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There are rules! (To clear up the chance of any uncertainty, you’ve heard that on a very popular television series.)
The rule is basketball information will be found on this site majority of the time. The exception is news about another sport will occasionally be found here, and that is necessary when it pertains to family and friends who are doing something special.
Professional boxer Luther “Lights Out” Smith fits right into that category since he’s a longtime friend and fellow alum of New Hanover High. When we departed from the Port City, officially known as Wilmington, North Carolina in the late 90’s, Fraz never spoke of boxing being in his future, and I didn’t know I would be writing about sports.
But that’s why it’s called life and now Smith owns a 9-1 record with eight knockouts, including this vicious KO against Darnell Pierce this past February.
Before Smith aims to earn his fifth straight knockout in a bout against Demetrius Banks on October 14 in Washington, D.C., he spoke on this edition of 1-on-1 about boxing, and some of the frustrations that come along with the sport, Floyd Mayweather improving to 50-0, a recent acting opportunity, being an entrepreneur and today’s music.
When you started out boxing over two years ago, you were a heavyweight. Now you are a cruiserweight. Why did you switch weight classes?
I’m not a real big heavyweight. I’m a smaller heavyweight. Today’s heavyweights are 250-260 and even bigger. Anything over 201 is considered a heavyweight so if I’m closer to 200 I might as well drop down to cruiserweight–176 to 200 is the cruiserweight division. I’m closer to that so I decided to go with the more natural weight, cut those 17 pounds and fight at a comfortable weight versus trying to fight as the smaller heavyweight.
It’s not bad if you want to do a lot of dancing around, running around the ring trying to outpunch your opponent but I like to kind of get it over with as fast as I can. If I can land my shot I’m going to go for my shot. It’s more risky to do that with the 250-60 pound guys. You can’t really bang with them like that when you are 218 or whatever. My coach and I talked about it and decided to drop on down to cruiserweight and take over there.
Most of your fights have been in the mid-Atlanta area. Any chance of you having a bout in other parts of the country or in your home state of North Carolina?
I would love to. Anybody can get it. I’ve reached to people here in Maryland, in California and people all over. They look at my record and research me and they see my age  and say, ‘Ah man this should be easy.’ But then they start looking at video clips and say, ‘This is not a smart fight’ because I’m knocking big people out.
Knowing fighters are not confident about getting in the ring with you and having the right to avoid you has to be frustrating right?
That’s why I’m actually kind of mad at boxing right now because I’m putting a lot in and not getting a lot back. Being that I started late I expected things to be moving a lot faster but I learned there are several routes I could have taken. I choose the hard route, which is quality fights over quantity. So you see guys fighting a bunch of ‘cab drivers’ to get their record built up–20-0 with 20 knockouts but they might have fought a cab driver or somebody working at McDonald’s that boxes part-time but their numbers look good on paper. I like quality opponents. I haven’t been saying no to anybody but people have been telling me no cause they want ‘cab drivers.’ That’s smart if you got time to do all of that–pad your record and make it look like on paper you got a whole bunch of fights.
Yeah that sounds good but when you face that real opponent he is going to put all of that to the test. I pride myself on being ready for whoever is next. Whether they got a pristine, undefeated record or whether they got a few losses on their record I really don’t care. I just want to fight. It has been coming back to bite me in the butt lately because father time waits for no one. With me turning 39 in November, I don’ t have too much longer in this sport so I’m going to keep pushing along until I feel the need to chill out.
Hopefully some big fights come. I’m going to get something out of boxing before I stop. TV time or something. I’m not going to let this be in vain. If I got to finish my career like this, waiting for quality fights then cool. I’ll do that versus taking the ‘easy route,’ padding my record. I just wish other fighters felt the same and were willing to put their undefeated record on the line instead of dropping out at the last minute. I’ve been having to find cab drivers to knock out at the last minute. That’s the nature of the game–the business. There are all types of separate governing bodies not one solid governing body but you got to do what you got to do. Since I’m up against time, I have to get it how I can so whoever says yes that is who I’m fighting.
Despite the issues boxing sometimes presents, being a part of the sport did lead to you getting time in front of the camera on the TV One crime series For My Woman, reenacting the role of Reginald Coleman, who was a hit-man and personal trainer. What led to you landing this role?
I had mentioned to one of my clients I personally trained at the time that I had been going to these casting calls already. She mentioned she knew a casting director. The conversation died down but a month or so later a role came up. She needed a boxer. A bearded guy and bald guy. A big guy and a personal trainer. Obviously, I fit the bill to a T. I auditioned for the part, crushed it and got the part. We filmed for a week. It was fun. I want to do more acting.
Even though you have reduced your role as a personal trainer, what do you like about that occupation?
Getting people where they want to be. I like motivating people. I don’t call myself a personal trainer actually I call myself a motivator. For the people that know me one thing they are going to have in common to say about me is that I’m always smiling and always uplifting somebody. I feel like we are put here on this earth not for ourselves but to make somebody else’s life better–that is what I try to do everyday. When somebody comes to me with a goal for fitness not only do I help them with fitness/boxing but I also try to give them a better outlook on things as far as being a glass half full kind of person. I listen to them and give them whatever advice I may have.
Many of your clients have shown their support for your brand IFFI (I Fight For It) and have definitely seen you wearing the different types of clothing and accessories. How has being a boxer contributed to your business?
Boxing is a platform for me to capitalize on my brand. I made my brand before I had my first fight. Since I’m not going to be able to box forever, I need something to take from that to take forward after I decide to leave the sport of boxing. My brand is my brand. That is why I’ve been doing several things with it to make sure I can continue this entrepreneurial journey after boxing and kickboxing. All of the things I’m doing now is to set up what I call ‘Operation Legacy.’ It would be dumb for me not to think about life after boxing at my age. The shelf life of a fighter isn’t that long. So I’m just trying to make the best of it and do what I can with it.
But I Fight For It is not just about combat sports. It’s about anything. I’m working on a line of suits, formal wear. I started it a month and half ago. Everybody has a T-shirt line and that’s cool but I want to do something that is more representative of my age, do something with fedoras too and get a couple of fighters to wear them. I’m going to shoot my shot.
You also found success in the music business, recording five albums under the alias S-Roc. Hip hop is much different now from when we were influenced by it so what are your thoughts on the sounds the youth hear today?
No comment. Nah it’s still good music out there you just got to go dig for it Right now, I’m listening to a whole lot of Lecrae, Andy Mineo. I also listen to a lot of Curren$y. I still listen to a lot of the greats like Jay-Z, Slum Village. But this new stuff ‘mumble rap’ is a bunch of garbage. It’s a time and place for it. If you think about it, our parents and grandparents said the same thing about the stuff we listened to. I’m not going to say all of it is garbage but most of it is. You can’t understand anything that anybody is saying and they keep repeating the same two words over and over again–that’s garbage.
But check this out. Who am I to get mad at some of these guys with no talent that found a way to make no talent make them money so that is a talent in itself. If they can get on the mic and say blah, blah, blah and put a beat behind it and call it a song of blah, blah, blah, and make a million dollars and get a million people to say blah, blah, blah, I really can’t get mad at an artist. You have to give them credit for influencing a million people to buy a talentless track.
Last month, millions were made by Mayweather and UFC fighter Conor McGregor in a highly anticipated bout. I thought it was somewhat of a joke and wasn’t crazy about seeing it but it was a decent fight. What did you think of it?
It was a decent fight. Conor lasted a lot longer than I thought he would. Ten rounds with arguably the greatest fighter to ever lace up the boxing gloves in today’s time. In the first three rounds, he was actually handling his business with that ugly jab he was throwing. It was very awkward obviously since he was coming from a different background. Business wise it was a brilliant move on both of their parts. My man Conor McGregor made his pro boxing debut against arguably one of the most talked about, defensively sound and celebrated, undefeated fighters of our generation period–Floyd Mayweather.
He was able to come in the door and face the big shot instead of working his way up the ranks. Keep in mind, Conor, four or five years ago, was on welfare. For him to excel like this means he has made some great leaps and bounds in his career. He talked himself into a good fight and millions of dollars. I ain’t mad at him. I still feel he didn’t take enough of a boxing butt whipping like I feel like he should have. Floyd didn’t beat him bad enough. I wanted him to really feel the wrath of boxing.
I feel like Floyd carried him a little bit but I wanted him to bring that hammer. No mercy–get him out of there in at least the first two rounds to show the world. Conor held his own. I actually picked the round. I told my wife after the fifth round how he was gassing out and in Round 10 he is gone. If I was a betting man, I would have won a lot of money. I felt like the ref could have let it go a couple of seconds longer to make sure but he saved him. That was his first boxing match so you don’t want to let it go too far. Either way, he still won financially.