Livingstone Bramble Still Going On
Livingstone Bramble Former WBA World Lightweight Champion wants to Conjure up More Movie Roles and One More Boxing Title.
“Keep fighting at 49? Why not, look what’s out there”
Livingstone Bramble born September 3, 1960 in Saint Kitts and Nevis is the first world champion boxer from that area. He won the title by a 14-round TKO over heavily favored Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini in Buffalo, New York on June 1, 1984.
He proved his right to the crown with an extremely close, however, unanimous decision over Mancini on February 16, 1985 in Reno, Nevada. His record at the time of the initial defeat of Mancini was 20-1-1 (13KO’s) and his boxing future was bright. Fast forward 25 years, Bramble still listed as an active fighter although not having a fight since 2003, displays a record of 40-26-3. Losing his championship by knockout in two rounds to underdog, Edwin Rosario on September 26, 1988, Livingstone has lost 24 bouts since 1990.
Still colorful and charismatic at 49 years of age, Bramble, who has also fought under the names of Ras-I-Bramble and Alujah Bramble, hoped changing his name may bring him a change of boxing fortune, has now reverted to his given name. He admits that Livingstone, his name given at birth, is a good one and memorable. Bramble appeared in the last Sylvester Stallone Rocky film, “Rocky Balboa (unbilled) and would like to do more in that industry. Bramble currently lives in Saugerties, New York where he helps run a studio with his son, Alujah. It is: Round 15 Fitness Boxing. Located at 251 Partition Street, Saugerties, N.Y.
On the subject of witchcraft, which Livingstone was accused of practicing, he says simply, “I used any edge to win that I could.” Rumors that he would cut off either a dogs or rabbit‘s ears before fights for good luck and that he would cut off birds heads to offer their blood to witch spirits so that he would not shed any blood of his own, were unsubstantiated. However, these stories made good copy and were given credence by the fact that Bramble would walk around with a snake as a pet and often walked into the ring with one wrapped around his neck. He even appeared on the cover of the famed Ring Magazine with his snake. He is not your ordinary personality.
Bramble enjoys being a marathon runner and competes each year at the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s Celebrity Marathon where his autograph is one of the most cherished. Bramble is quick-witted and genuinely a pleasure to interview. In fact, it is nice to hear his clarity considering the fact that he is still an active pugilist at 49 and has been in the ring with such stalwart opponents as; James “Buddy” McGirt, Freddie Pendleton, Roger Mayweather, Rafael Ruelas, Kostya Tszyu, Charles Murray, and so many others. I present the boxer with many names, Livingstone Bramble.
DH: I viewed your first bout with Ray Mancini, what a great fight. Was that the highlight of your career?
Yes that was the highlight, it was the ultimate of me trying to be at my best and reaching that goal. I’ve never really gotten to that point again; there were a couple of times I came close, but not like that. I don’t know what possessed me to train so much harder than he did; it’s hard to repeat because Ray was really tough you know. He was right up there with the Arguello’s and Camacho’s and would probably given all the best fighters a really good fight.
DH: You were so good in that fight that I thought you’d be champ a long time.
You know, everybody hopes that their training could be like that all the time, but it can’t. That time everything was right. and I think Ray went into the fight with a slight injury to his neck and my timing was perfect that night, the moves, my style, everything. That was my first time at 15 rounds and it just went well, I listened to my trainers, they looked at me and saw what I had and I sneaked in with the southpaw stance which I worked on for quite awhile and it was a squeeze play. In general it was a very tough fight, I wasn’t the most talented athlete in those times but I did the best with what I had with a good defense and very short punches. Everything just fell into place.
DH: Who would say was your toughest opponent?
I had a couple of tough fights coming up, Anthony Fletcher was tough, and some of those 4-rounders were tough. I think I made some of the fighters tougher than they should have been by not being in top condition. Once I became champion I was ready and in good shape. We’re not talking about that, we’re talking about the tough 4 and 6 rounders. Kenny “Bang Bang” was very tough.
DH: So you remember the early years as being the toughest.
Yeah, the early years were very tough and you have to be very skillful for those kinds of fights and later on it was a matter of hometown decisions and you not fighting to your full potential. I remember being over-qualified for the Oba Carr fight also, but Oba Carr had some good rights and he was able to survive in that fight. I just couldn’t really cut the ring off and put him away. Those were highlight fights, Kostya Tszyu was tough, but I had no left hook, I went 8 or 9 years fighting without a left hook. I needed an operation to correct that.
DH: Why did you fight under different names?
After I lost the championship, you know when someone gets their ass whupped they change their name or go to initials to try change their luck or go into the ring with a different feeling and correct a lot of mistakes that you are making. But it doesn’t happen man, you know, it doesn’t happen with a name change. I also felt that I wasn’t worthy of carrying the name of Livingstone Bramble, I kept the other name in the Bramble family, but it really wasn’t worth it because to this day I think as Livingstone Bramble I can always stand tall. It’s a great name and when I become a citizen I’ll change it back, but I’ll keep Ras_I and Alujah, I will get rid of the Sylvester though.
DH: Did you change your name mainly to change your bad luck?
No, mainly it was the drive. I had lost the drive. As a boy the other kids would call me Ras-I and they called me Alujah also, so that’s basically a name I put together myself, Ras-I Alujah Bramble, Alujah means “Fight for God”. Those names meant something and I never really got the credit for changing my name for a good reason. That’s what it was all about.
I got rid of Sylvester; I never even got to tell Stallone that my name was Sylvester too. He called me Livingstone so much I forgot about Sylvester. Hopefully one day we’ll laugh about it. I was in the Rocky Balboa film, I became an actor in that movie and I haven’t done nothing about it. I’m going to get out there and do something about the acting within the next six months when my son comes here to help me out. I have to go through a couple of surgeries, my left rotary cup and I think the right one may be going too. I have to get sharp and I do have a tumor in the back of my neck, that’s the main reason that I have been inactive.
DH: Have you finally, formerly retired?
No, I have to get those surgeries out of the way first and after I start training for awhile I’ll see how I’m doing. If I’m alright, why not come back, there’s a bunch of bums out there. That’s their problem; they count their money before they fight. Everybody looks at me and asks why are today’s boxers so shitty. It just that these guys are counting their money before they fight. They just check the computer and forget about training and really fighting.
DH: So then you’re saying, why not?
Exactly, why not? Look who’s out there! Why Not, there’s nobody out there. Nobody ever really hurt me, even the Oba Carr fight, look at the videos, I found out three years ago that he head butted me and that’s what caused all the damage. Look at the tape, you’ll see. If you don’t believe me about boxing today, do yourself a favor and watch the original tape of Bramble-Mancini and you’ll realize how much boxing has changed for the worse. I still got the talents, are they gonna take it from me now? Are they gonna stop me from training others? Are these new guys gonna look better than me in competition, and who cares, I never looked pretty. Most of the judges can’t judge, and I don’t hate them I’m just disappointed that no one ever taught them how to judge and recognize a block from a punch.
DH: Well, I sure do wish you the best.
The opportunity to train champions, that’s all I wants now.
DH: Tell me about your marathon running.
I’m back to 5K & 10 K runs, I’ve slowed up but I have to cook it back up. My hair is getting pretty grey now; I’m getting that mix, so I have to try getting that youth back in me.
DH: Are you married, Livingstone?
No, I’m divorced; I’ve been divorced for like 10 years now. Now, I’m hoping to find that special one. And I have 51/2 kids.
DH: 51/2? Are you expecting another?
No, I’m joking, you’re smarter than most, everybody else falls for that.
DH: You sound great, you are full of enthusiasm.
Well, for a guy that was misdiagnosed with Dementia and for six months was on medication that had me feeling terrible, I’m doing well. During that time things were very hard living with the thought of having Dementia/Alzheimer was a frightening experience. The day to day medication was sapping my power and will to live. After visiting a specialist and getting a full brain scan, it was concluded that there were no signs of Dementia or Alzheimer‘s, I guess my defense wasn’t so bad after all! They finally said, “This guy don’t have brain injuries”. he has a problem with cognizance. The most expensive brain tests you could think about and all I end up with is a problem with cognizance.
You know what? I knew that for years, I could put information together but I never knew what it was. It might have gotten a little worse through boxing but it was a problem that I have always had. Like at contract time I may not have known how to ask for more money. Everybody always got paid though.
When I go to the Social security offices they say, “Wow, you’ve made a lot of money”, and they seem surprised that a brown skinned guy could do that.
DH: Livingstone, I’ve read that you were into Voodoo and witchcraft was that real or just part of the hype?
That was mostly hype and it sounded good because I was Caribbean. You know guys like Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker thought it was real. When they were 30 feet away from me, they wouldn’t come near me. If you walked down the hallway, they would walk on the other side of the hallway.
(Lots of laughter) I had them all psyched! The other day I went up to some of those guys, because I felt bad for pulling these jokes and I said, “Listen guys, how come you never came around when I was in training camp and other places?” Pernell Whittaker and others said, “You were just weird man, you were just weird.” I met Mark Breland the other day and he said the same thing! We did it right, Mancini thought about a lot of things and he thought about that. In no time his fears were real and I played my role well. The Caribbean people that knew me never thought that stuff was true and my family, they know how I live. But Americans, they really believed it. It was very real man, it was very real.
DH: Would like to add something else for your fans?
There is not much I can say, the fans have treated me great all over the world and they still treat me good. I am so happy that they call me, whether it’s Livingstone, Sylvester, Ras-I Alujah or just Bramble, they call my name and give me their support. Thank them all.