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Livingstone aka 'Ras-I-Alujah' Bramble

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THE CRAZY WORLD OF LIVINGSTONE BRAMBLE : Snakes, Dogs, Voodoo--He Even Has His Manager a Little Punchy

February 16, 1985

RICHARD HOFFER | Times Staff Writer

RENO — Livingstone Bramble is angry with the media because all they want to do is write about an eccentric, a kid who trains with a boa constrictor named Dog around his neck and whose most beloved companion is a pit bull terrier named Snake.

It's like this: You hire a witch doctor for just one fight--what if it does turn out that Dr. Doo was a high school basketball coach--and nobody lets you forget it for the rest of your life.

Well, you can see what Bramble, 24, the World Boxing Assn. lightweight champion, is up against, even as he trained for tonight's rematch with Ray Mancini, 23.

It's "Hey, Bramble, hear you've been sparring with a caged chicken." Or "Hey, Bramble, hear you've been shadow-boxing with bubbles."

There is no letup. No wonder, then, the chip on his shoulder. No wonder he refused to tape a segment with CBS, which just happens to be providing part of his $750,000 purse.

There is a serious side to Bramble that everybody chooses to ignore. The other day at a press conference, for instance, he unwrapped a voodoo doll and began probing the eyes with a needle. "Ray, tell me how your eyes feel. See how your eyes are jumping now."

Then there was the solemn presentation of a ceramic skull--made in China and bought at a pet store. Bramble would like to know just what they mean by eccentric.

"Don't believe it," said Wily Lou Duva, Bramble's long-suffering manager, when asked about these reported troubles with the media. "He loves it. I mean, what we have here is a nut, a real coconut head, a cuckoo."

Duva, no stranger himself when it comes to promoting a fight--he nearly started a brawl with Mancini's manager, Dave Wolf, the other day--said he doesn't mind Bramble's zaniness, only his protests to the contrary. Duva's attitude is: Why should a man who plans to wear a skull and crossbones on his trunks complain about his coverage? Does the Pope whine because everywhere he goes people look on him as a religious figure?

If Bramble is not, in fact, what the psychiatrists like to medically classify as a coconut head, he is at least showing many of the symptoms. Since winning the title from Mancini last June in a 14-round upset, Bramble has done little to change his image from the dread-locked Rastafarian who is full of that Virgin Islands voodoo.

It is almost easy to forget that he is really a champion, an excellent counter-puncher with a 22-2-1 record whose strength was more than equal to that of the stand-up slugger, Mancini, whose record of 29-2 was forged largely by presenting his face and daring anyone to hit it. Bramble's activities outside the ring tend to overshadow those within.

The glory of his reign, a reign that will be tested in Reno's Lawlor Events Center and will be televised nationally by HBO, has been obscured by a certain unpredictability, a behavior that has often veered onto a very low road, indeed, even beyond voodoo dolls. Before the first Mancini fight, for example, Bramble said he was going to sew the name of Duk Koo Kim on his trunks, in reference to the fighter who died after a title fight with Mancini.

There is little doubt that all this had an effect on Mancini in that first fight. Mancini was somewhat psyched by those goings-on. "The Mancini people, they don't know how to hype a fight," Duva said. "They think everything is for real."

Mancini, of Youngstown, Ohio, says it was more a case of overtraining for that fight, that he had absolutely nothing that night. All the same, those close to the promotion say Mancini has been working hard to stay above the fray this time, that he has resigned himself to whatever Bramble has up his sleeve. After Bramble had his way with the voodoo doll, Mancini simply asked if Bramble would be his valentine.

Wolf, who put a recent press conference in high gear by tossing out some vague drug allegations, said Bramble's efforts for the rematch have been boring. "I have to fault them for their creativity," he said. "They should have done something better than this. This is supposed to be a psych-out?"

To tell the truth, there is some question as to whether this is, indeed, supposed to be a psych-out. Duva ordinarily welcomes anything that gets his fighter attention, but Bramble's behavior has been getting even to him. And he's not sure it's all so calculated, either.

"Some of it's BS," he said. "But you have to remember, he's a kook. I don't know from hour to hour what he's going to do. He doesn't either. I've been spending all my time here covering up for him, for the things he's been saying."

In the beginning Duva could laugh it all off. It's been a standing joke when he said: "I've got an appointment already made. After any Bramble fight, I commit myself to a mental institution for 10 days."

But it doesn't always make him laugh these days. In fact, he's at the point where he's ready to walk away from a champion. See, not all this bizarre behavior makes it to the press.

http://articles.latimes.com/1985-02-16/sports/sp-2991_1_livingstone-bramble

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Taken from a deadlink on uscombatsports

Livingstone Bramble Still Going On

By: Dan Hernandez
Date: 01 April 2010

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.

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