Middleweight On A Mission. An Interview With Top Middleweight Boxer, Ishe, 'Sugar Shay', Smith.

As a Contender Semi-finalist, Ishe, 'Sugar Shay', Smith, has shown us what he can do. Find out in this interview what Ishe is up to and what his future plans are.
Popular boxing series, The Contender, hosted by Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard, has proven to be a major step forward for several top professional middleweight boxers. After an exhausting selection process, in which 15 boxers out of an impressive 9,000 won the right to contest their abilities, and an equally intensive series of preliminary bouts, eight boxers faced the challenge of fighting for the opportunity to become the first Contender.

Arguably the most popular of these boxers was 26-year-old Ishe Smith, a previously undefeated middleweight from Las Vegas. Ishe, who considers God, his family and boxing (in this order), to be the most important factors in his life, feels a world championship is well within his reach, and his boxing ability, attitude, and work ethic would certainly back up this belief.

With a professional record of 16 wins, one loss (Ishe lost to eventual Contender winner Sergio Mora who fought Peter Manfredo at Caesars Palace on May 24 for the $1 million prize and a 4-year contract), and 100 wins as an amateur (including an unprecedented 10 straight Nevada State Golden Gloves titles), Ishe has an impressive boxing history.

One of Ishe's proudest moments was his selection to contest the 1996 United States Olympic Trials in Oakland, California. Winning his first 12-round fight, and being selected for the Contender, are also career highlights. Above all, Ishe thanks God and his family for giving him the guidance and support to continue his journey to become one of the best in the business.

An Interview With Pro Boxer Ishe Smith!
Check our first interview with Ishe Smith as he talks about his career and the time he spent as a participant on the 'Contender' series!
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] Hi Ishe, thank you for granting us this follow-up interview. Although you didn't win the Contender, you certainly made a lot of new fans with your tremendous fighting ability, and winning attitude. Describe the experience of having been part of such a major production.

    A: Being on the Contender was one of those "once in a lifetime things" that you just cherish for the rest of your life. I was glad to be a part of the Contender, and it was a great experience getting in there with Sly and Ray. I made friends with all of the production team on the show, and it was just a great experience all around.

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[ Q ] It looked like fun. What did you take away from working with Stallone and Sugar Ray? What was it like training with these guys?

    A: They were great. Ray gave me a lot of great advice - told me about the good and bad parts of boxing, and what mistakes to look out for in the ring. Sly, I mean, is a legend, so it was great being around him.

[ Q ] You fought excellently throughout the Contender. Do you feel you should have won?

    A: Yes, well I lost to the guy who won the whole thing (Sergio Mora). So in one way that's good, but we fought and it was a very close fight, it was a split decision. Hopefully one day we'll do it again. I have no complaint. It was a split decision and I hold my head high.

[ Q ] So is a re-match likely at some point?

    A: Yes definitely. That's one of my first priorities. There are also some other guys on the show I would like to fight, Jeff being one. We'll have to see what happens in the future. Sergio is definitely on the radar, one of my top priorities right now.

[ Q ] Speaking of top priorities, what is next for Ishe?

    A: At the moment me and my wife have been handling a lot of business, and just relaxing. Hopefully in August or September we will be back in the ring again. At this stage we are just training and getting ready for this.

[ Q ] Do you know who you will be fighting at this stage?

    A: I don't know yet. Probably one of the Contenders. Sergio possible, or Jesse Brinkley, Peter Manfredo, one of these guys. We'll have to see what happens, see what unfolds. For the most part, I think it will be one of the Contenders. My management team will let me know when the time comes, as to who I will be fighting.

[ Q ] Among your fellow boxers on the Contender, who did you develop the most respect for, and why?

    A: I think I would have to say Alfonso because a lot of people doubted him as he was the underdog. He went very far, and almost made it to the finals, so I would have to respect him. Tarick Salmaci I respect because he tried his best after being away from boxing for three years. He came back to measure his heart to see if he could do it, so you have to respect this.

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Ishe & Alfonso Gomez.

[ Q ] Which of your Contender fights did you enjoy most and why?

    A: I really enjoyed both of them. The Ahmed one was the best fight as there was so much build-up for this one. You could just feel the tension in the house, like it was a super-fight, like Mike Tyson fighting.

    Everybody was so ready for that fight, from the production team to the boxers. I liked the Sergio fight too because here you had two undefeated fighters. He was undefeated, I was too. This came down to a split decision, and he came up the victor. It was just an unfortunate event for me.

[ Q ] What kind of shape are you in at the moment? Are you ready to fight at any time?

    A: I think I am in great shape right now. I've been doing a lot of weight training to get real strong. Trying to get my bench press up to around 300 pounds, which is pretty strong for my weight. Right now it's like off season, but I'm still doing a lot of running and other things to keep in shape, and maintain my strength.

[ Q ] How heavy do you get in your off season, how much does you weight fluctuate?

    A: I get up to about 175-180 before getting down to my fighting weight.

[ Q ] And exactly what sort of role does weight training play in your boxing routine?

    A: Yes, weight training definitely plays a big part in my routine. During my boxing mini-camps, as I like to call them, I lift weights a lot, about five days a week. When getting closer to a fight I still lift weights, just not as much.

[ Q ] With your weight training, is there anything specific you do to help develop speed and strength for boxing?

[ Q ] Is there anything special you do to prepare for a boxing match that the other guys possibly don't do?

    A: I think for me, I just work really hard. We train our best, and run a lot, and focus a lot on speed. Diet and trying to relax are also important. We just try to do everything right.

[ Q ] What is your diet like at the moment? Do you place a lot of importance on eating?

    A: Right now I'm not on a strict diet, but I do eat a lot of fish, chicken, but not a lot of red meat - baked Salmon is a popular choice for us, stuff like that. I also eat a lot of salads and brown rice.

[ Q ] Do you have personal chef?

    A: Yes definitely. I have a personal chef who comes in and cooks for us. In fact, this was the first time I tried a personal chef and it was great to have him as part of the team, as important a part as anybody else.

[ Q ] Are personal chefs common in boxing?

    A: I think a lot of boxers have them, at least the more serious ones do. Some boxers just play around and don't really care about nutrition, and things like that. The ones who are serious about their craft would have a personal chef.

[ Q ] What supplements do you use at the moment, and do you recommend that boxers use them as part of their program?

[ Q ] How often do you take glutamine?

    A: I take glutamine around 4-to-5 times a day, depending on how much I'm training. I usually take it before and after training. I think all the supplements can be beneficial for boxers.

[ Q ] Where are you based at the moment?

    A: I am based in the North side of Las Vegas.

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[ Q ] Is you community receptive to you as a boxer? Are they supportive?

    A: I think so. It is pretty quiet here, with a lot of families and I really cherish this environment. I think this is a good area for my family.

[ Q ] What has been your greatest boxing achievement Ishe?

    A: I would have to say it would be a combination of things. Making the Olympic trials at the age of 17, winning my first 12-round fight, and coming in and being a part of this show (the Contender). I think this show was a great opportunity, and I think I faired real well against the other guys. I think I was well prepared.

    Ishe's Pro Record (most recent fight first):

    • 2005-05-24 Anthony Bonsante Caesars Palace
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W UD 5
      Watch This Fight Here.

    • 2004-09-01 Sergio Mora Pasadena, CA, USA L SD 5
      Watch This Fight Here.

    Who Should Have Won The Episode 9 Fight Of The Contender? Ishe Or Sergio?

    Ishe Smith.
    Sergio Mora.

    • 2004-08-24 Ahmed Kaddour Pasadena, CA, USA W UD 5
      Watch This Fight Here.

    • 2004-01-15 Randall Bailey Chumash Casino
      Santa Ynez, CA, USA W UD 12

      Click To Enlarge.
      From The Randall Bailey Fight.

    • 2003-07-31 David Estrada CKewadin Casino
      Sault St. Marie, MI, USA W UD 10

    • 2003-06-20 Sal Lopez Home Depot Training Center
      Dominguez Hills, CA, USA W KO 2

    • 2003-04-24 Sam Garr Grand Casino
      Gulfport, MS, USA W UD 10

    • 2002-12-27 Edson Madrid Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W KO 1

    • 2002-10-18 Gerry Balagbagan Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W UD 6

    • 2002-07-26 Charles Blake Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W TKO 2

    • 2002-05-17 Michael Soberanis Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W UD 4

    • 2001-12-28 Norberto Bravo Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W UD 6

    • 2001-10-19 Sean Holley Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W TKO 3

    • 2001-06-15 Alfonso Gomez Orleans Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W UD 4

    • 2001-05-18 Tony Sanza Orleans Hotel & Casino
      Las Vegas, NV, USA W TKO 1

    • 2000-09-09 Steve Verdin New Orleans Arena
      New Orleans, LA, USA W KO 1

    • 2000-07-29 Jose Meraz Grand Casino
      Tunica, MS, USA W TKO 3

[ Q ] What are some of your strengths?

    A: I work very hard and am committed 100% to boxing. Also, I feel I have a natural talent, and am blessed with good boxing skills. My speed and power are also key attributes in the ring. My ability to think inside the ring is also good.

[ Q ] How is your personal life Ishe? How does your family (wife La Toya, and son Ishe Jr) complement your boxing career?

    A: Oh yeah, no doubt. I thank the Lord every day for keeping my family healthy, they are the most important thing in my life and help as far as supporting me as a boxer goes. It's great having my family there. They support everything I have accomplished. To me it's very important to have someone who will support you through the highs and lows.

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    Ishe With His Family.

    I've been with my wife for eight years now, married for almost four of these years (four year anniversary on September 20). I just thank God I have a wife who I can turn to, who will tell me everything will be OK, when times are tough. There have been times when I wanted to quit, but my wife just told me to keep going.

[ Q ] How old is your son Ishe Jr, and would you agree if he chose to become a boxer at some point?

    A: My son is three, and he likes boxing, he loves it. It only seems like yesterday I was holding him, and now he stands there and says "who's that guy you fought dad".

    As far as him becoming a boxer, this would be totally up to him, but I would sit down and we would have a long discussion about the dedication involved with being a boxer, the hard work and the long hours. It's up to him. I will just pray to God that he is safe. It would be a great personal goal for him.

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[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] You obviously have a strong faith. Is this something you have always carried with you?

    A: Yes, always. God has always formed a major part of my life. God first, family second and boxing third.

[ Q ] So how long do you feel you can continue on as a boxer?

    A: Well, I'll be 27 on July 22. I've always said at about 35 I will be almost ready to wrap it up. I'm still at my peak right now, so I have a lot to achieve in the sport.

[ Q ] What would you like to achieve, ultimately, as a boxer before you retire? A world title?

    A: I think definitely, a world title. I think this is what every boxer who does sit-ups, and runs for miles and miles every day wants to achieve. I would love to become world champion, because there are a lot of things I have never had, and being world champion would give me the opportunity to live my dream.

[ Q ] When do you see this happening?

    A: Definitely in the next year or two, but I don't think you can put a time limit on this sort of thing. It could happen at any time.

[ Q ] At the moment, does you whole life revolve around boxing, or do you have anything else career-wise you are pursuing?

    A: You know what, my whole life does revolve around boxing because to be the best I need to train extra hard, and need the time to do this. The most important thing for me is to have no outside distractions when preparing for a fight.

[ Q ] Given your successful boxing career to date, do you feel there are any secrets which have helped you to separate yourself from the average pro middleweight?

    A: I think dedication, that's my greatest attribute. I am completely dedicated to the sport of boxing at this point, and that is what is responsible for my success.

    What I want to achieve, to accomplish, every mile I run, every sit-up I do, comes down to complete dedication and commitment. I take everything in boxing seriously, and train myself to the limit. With boxing there are a lot of highs and lows and grumpiness.

[ Q ] Tell me more about the grumpiness. Is this a side affect of all the hard training that a boxer does?

    A: I often push myself to exhaustion. Some days I train to the point where I'm almost throwing up due to the intensity. It can be very hard, so of course there are times when you're grumpy, when you have a short fuse, especially when it's really, really close to the fight when you're losing weight and you can't eat as much.

    When a boxer is trying to make weight, getting grumpy is just normal, you know. But my wife knows this goes with the sport, and is probably used to it by now.

[ Q ] What do you recommend a beginning boxer focus on primarily? Should they show a similar degree of commitment?

    A: I wouldn't say dedicate your whole life to it. I have been doing this since I was nine, so it's all I've known. But I would say to someone starting up, just dedicate yourself to the sport of boxing.

    What I mean by that is that the beginner should focus hard on their training, and dieting and stuff like that. I'm telling you, to be successful as a boxer you have to do those things. Be dedicated to the sport, and success will come with this.

Should Young Athletes Focus On One Or More Sports?
Young athletes benefit their skills in any sport by playing a multitude of sports. A young athlete does not need to be exposed to a single sport to get optimal stimulation and skill development for his/her age.
[ Click here to learn more. ]

[ Q ] You spent time training with top professional Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, and Fernando Vargas. In your view, what one thing did these guys have in common that has helped them to become the champions they are?

    A: Once again, these guys are just dedicated to the sport of boxing, and all of them have won championships at one time or another. I was really young when I trained and sparred with those guys. It was a great experience. I definitely think I learned something from each and every one of those guys. They are now ready to wind down and I wish them the best.

[ Q ] What exactly did you learn from these boxers, that has helped you to become the boxer your are today?

    A: The training aspect - how to work really hard. I want to become a world champion so definitely this has helped me to reach my goals. I sucked up all their knowledge as far as training is concerned.

[ Q ] Is there anything you would like to say to your next opponent?

    A: Be aware. I'm training really hard right now, and on a mission. This is the first opportunity I've had to step up to a new level, and I pray to God this will be the time for me. Like I say, I'm training hard to ensure everything goes to plan, and I am not defeated again.

[ Q ] Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and to those who have supported you over the years Ishe?

    A: I would just like to thank all the people who have supported me. This is a hard sport to train for and without support it would be all the more harder. I appreciate every vote I got from the fan favorite voting and just their support in general. Boxing would be nothing without the fans and supporters.

[ Q ] All the best with your career Ishe and thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

    A: No problem David. God bless.

    To give feedback to Ishe he can be contacted via email at: sugarshay@sugarshay.com