Written by Rob Scott
Interview conducted by Henry “Dis-com-bob-u-lating” Jones
“Apollo Kid” Climbs the Foundation He Built Himself
In boxing, many fighters never truly think about the future and what life will be like after they hang up the gloves. In many cases, the structure of a fighter’s future will only be as strong as the ground work and bricks that are laid today. Recently, twenty-five year veteran ring announcer, Henry “Dis-com-bob-u-lating” Jones, spoke with recently crowned ESPN Boxcino Jr. Middleweight Champ, John “Apollo Kidd” Thompson of Newark, NJ., who is definitely a fighter with not only a head for the game, but also possesses goals and a path beyond the ring.
Jones: Knowing how spiritual you are, let me begin by saying “GOD morning” Champ!
Apollo Kidd: (laughs) GOD morning!
Jones: How are you doing today?
Apollo Kidd: I’m just like Marvin Hagler… Simply marvelous.
Jones: That’s what’s up. Hagler just happens to be one of my All Time favorite fighters, so you definitely starting off this interview on the right note. Ok, just like your style in the ring, let’s get busy and cut to the chase, shall we?
Apollo Kidd: Ok.
Jones: You are the Newly Crowned and Defending ESPN Boxcino Jr. Middleweight Champion, which you won last year at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, NY, right outside the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canostota, NY, correct?
Apollo Kidd: Yes.
Jones: Of course that historic accomplishment didn’t come overnight, so how did you get to that point, what is your life’s background?
Apollo Kidd: First of all, my Dad got me started in amateur boxing around 9 yrs of age and I immediately took to it like it was natural for me. I liked the feeling of winning, placing 2nd in the Nationals in 2009, went on to capture Six Golden Glove Championships, a Diamond Gloves Title, won the highly competitive Ohio State Fair Title, the WBC Latin Americas Belt in 2013, and the Fight for Children Title in DC. I had a couple of setbacks after I turned pro which further motivated me to not just get in shape but to live that way and stay ready. ESPN called me as a possible fill-in for a fighter who was overweight for their Tournament, called me back to say they didn’t need me, then called back again the day before the Official Weigh-in at Turning Stone to ask me if I could get there. What they didn’t know is that I was already en route there, just in case. I only had the one day of preparation time for my opponent but that’s all I needed.
Jones: So tell us what happened in that bout and afterwards.
Apollo Kidd: The guy’s name escapes me right now but I researched that he was a boxer. I saw on tape that I was much faster than him and of course styles makes fights. I adapted to his, was able to get the decision, which led me to the next bout versus a Russian fighter. I saw that he was pretty basic and liked to hit off breaks and clinches for his knockouts so I refused to let him do what he wanted and I won convincingly. Winning that led me to the Title Bout against Brandon Adams, who had finished 2nd the previous year against Willie “El Mongoose” Monroe. Adams, a short, powerfully built guy, was the so-called favorite in our match-up, so I knew I had to dictate the pace and control the bout with my jab. I ended up slipping on the canvas and the referee called it a knockdown, giving me an 8 count. That only motivated me more and I caught Adams with a classic 1 -2 punch combination on the button, stopping him by TKO to win the Belt.
Jones: I saw all of that on tv. It seemed to me that you are pretty comfortable fighting orthodox or as a southpaw.
Apollo Kidd: Exactly. I take pride in being ambidextrous.
Jones: I’m impressed that you know that word and used it in context. I asked a fighter a few years ago the same thing and he said he was “amphibious!” I asked him if he was a Pisces like us. True story.
Apollo Kid: (howling with laughter).
Jones: Speaking of… you just recently celebrated a 27th birthday on March 5th, so happy belated. I celebrated my 60th the previous week on February 28th.
Apollo Kidd: Thanks, and happy belated to you too.
Jones: Thanks. You are also much accomplished as a Mural Artist with your drawings and paintings. Tell us about that please.
Apollo Kidd: I began drawing in 3rd grade, just on a lark, something to do that I enjoyed, beginning with coloring books. I never stayed within the lines or followed directions for it, which others discovered was due to my creativity. That led me to enrolling in the Cicely Tyson School for Performing Arts in 5th grade. I stayed with this interest and in the 9th grade I also took up Creative Dance, which has helped me with my footwork and balance in the ring to this day, so I’m of the mindset that all things happen for a good reason. I became so good with my drawings that I sold my first one in 2014, gave one as a gift to current Undisputed SuperMiddleweight Champ Andre “ S.O.G.” Ward, as well as one to Miley Cyrus in 2015.
Jones: Wow! Was the one to Miley of her twerking?
Apollo Kidd: (laughing) No, but it was of her on a Wrecking Ball.
Jones: (laugh) Yeah, that’s appropriate too! I mentioned that you recently had a birthday…are you aware of a renown painter whose birthday is today, March 7th?
Apollo Kidd: No I’m not, who is it?
Jones: The guy who painted the Sistine Chapel…Michelangelo.
Apollo Kidd: Oh snap!
Jones: So , you really in select company, birthday-wise.
Apollo Kidd: I try to keep in great company too, so thank you for sharing that with me. You’ve given me even more inspiration now.
Jones: My honor to do so. Where did the ring name Apollo Kid originate?
Apollo Kidd: Kidd is spelled with 2 d’s because I am not a child but I am youthful at heart. Apollo comes from the son of the Greek God’s Zeus, and Neto, who was very talented. Apollo also comes from the Apollo 11 Space flight in 1969 when Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. He said “ One small step for a man, one giant leap for Mankind!” To me, that is about one man opening the door for everyone, not just for himself. I also have that philanthropic mentality.
Jones: That’s noble and conscientious… and I’m not the least bit surprised. Personally, I first started following you when I saw on ESPN how you depicted yourself in one of your own paintings winning the ESPN Tournament BEFORE you even entered it. That’s when I knew you were a different kind of fighter, one with foresight and vision. Speak to that please…
Apollo Kidd: It was really for my own inspiration, to MAKE my dream come true. That’s what we teach to the youth… Self-Motivation… for something honorable… is the key!
Jones: Absolutely! When Ray Mccline, CEO of the forthcoming Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame, and I spoke with you at Boardwalk Hall for the Showtime card promoted by your Promoter, Vito Mielnicki of GH3 Promotions, you mentioned that you had another business venture you were really excited about, can you elaborate please.
Apollo Kidd: Thank you for asking, I would be glad to do so. I’m the President of a newly formed company, Y&SM, which is the acronym for “Young and Successful Men.” As a matter of fact, let me bring my Director of Marketing on this call now… Malcolm Simms… Malcolm are you there?
Malcolm: Yes I am. How are you Mr. Jones?
Jones: Blessed and highly favored young man, thank you for asking. Tell us about Y&SM please.
Malcolm: We are a multi-faceted Community Service organization set up to empower youth and young Adults in the areas of Non-violence, helping them with more appropriate attire, basically motivating- then activating- them to be successful at an early age as possible by changing the mindset of those living in Urban settings. This is our way of giving back to the community, by mentoring those young males who are receptive to positive change. We give workshops in schools, rec centers, and have a “Walk of Success” Event coming up soon which will instill hope to those who feel hopeless. That is our mission. There are 8 of us in total: John, myself Malcolm Simms (VP of Marketing and Michigan State University Grad Sociology Major, Double Minor in Business/Chinese), Eric McClemore (VP of Y&SM/President and CEO of MedLife Labor Union & NJ State EMT, Saleem Phelps (VP of Finance and Creative Director/Freelance Stylist, most notable work w/ Scotch Porter beard Balm), Dasheek Touchstone (Navy Vet/Singer and Videographer, currently works for Department of Corrections), Kasib Smith ( “Wreckless the Rapper”/Dance Artist), James Odom, Transit Employee, and Jacob Harrison (current student at William Patterson University, Psych Major). That’s our Crew.
Jones: Impressive and I want in! Most people don’t know I’ve been a Masters degree Social Worker with DC Government for 33 years now, and work to empower Teens and Teen Parents, a real tough population. It appears we are on a similar mission with the same demographic group, so I would be honored to bring my resources and skill set to your organization, if you will have me.
Malcom: We would love to have you come on board!
Apollo Kidd: Indeed. Mr. Jones what Malcolm didn’t say, that should be noted, is that he is well traveled, has been to China, knows the language and the keys to success as practiced and implemented in the Far West. We plan on learning from any and everyone who is successful, so that our youth can be successful too.
Jones: I’ve never been to China… but I certainly have a … YEN… to go there… (silence on the other end)… ok, that didn’t work… see I started off 30 yrs ago trying to be a comedian, so I’m glad I kept my day and night jobs…
Malcolm: (laughing) That was wise!
Apollo Kidd: Yep!
Jones: Apollo Kidd, what are your thoughts on the State of the Sweet Science of Pro Boxing today?
Apollo Kidd: Its certainly different than what I’ve seen and heard from yesteryear, more politics involved, you have to know the right people, get the right fights…most fighters don’t want to jeopardize their record but I’ve always believed that TO BE the best you have to fight THE BEST. I put my undefeated on the record early and suffered 2 losses (now 17-2 w/ 6 ko’s). I lost on paper but it prepared me for the success I’m having now.
Jones: Do you have your next bout scheduled and if so, when/where/ who?
Apollo Kidd: Nothing is concrete right now, my Promoter, Vito Mielnicki and my Manager Artie Pellulo, are in negotiations with several people and networks. It will be soon however and I will keep you posted.
Jones: Who would your $$MONEY$$ bout be against?
Apollo Kidd: As I said, we are in several negotiations, so I can’t speak to that right now. I can say that I am looking towards the Premier Match-ups against whomever. I won’t call anyone out…but let it be known…I WILL ANSWER whenever they call me, just as I did for the ESPN Tournament. I’m not ducking anyone, never will.
Jones: Most appreciated Champ. On behalf of myself and the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame, I’d like to thank you for this exclusive interview and wish you much success in all of your career ventures in/out of the ring. Like the hit song says, you are truly “A Classic Man”…and one who gets THE BIG PICTURE as well. I look forward to introducing you in the ring at our next fight card, March 19th at the Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, featuring Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna, along with the comeback of Former IBF Cruiserweight Champ Imanu Mayfield, Promoted by Rising Star Promotions.
Apollo Kidd: You are quite welcome. Thank you for the interview, it was fun. Have a Blessed Day.
Jones: And you as well Champ… Ladies and Gentlemen… that was Newark, New Jersey/Brick City’s own… John “the Apollo Kidd” Thompson!
UPDATE: This interview took place on February 19, 2016 during Black History Month. John “The Apollo Kidd” Thompson will be back in action on June 11, 2016 at The Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY against Willie Monroe, Jr. in a 10-round middleweight bout that will be shown on SHO EXTREME at 7pm est. The bout will be part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
Disclaimer: All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame is not liable for any errors or omissions in this information. Any opinions or inquiries that you may have you can forward them to Rob Scott at email@example.com or Henry “Discombulating” Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.