Lem Satterfield

Q&A: “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble’s” Buffer’s going strong at 66

Michael Buffer turns 67 years old on November 2, and he’s walking with a cane from back surgery that he endured last month.

But that didn’t stop the originator of the catchphrase “Let’s Get Ready To Rumble” from working just 12 days after the operation, assuming his familiar position at center ring prior to Sergio Martinez’s 11th-round knockout of Darren Barker on Oct. 1 in Atlantic City.

Known for igniting boxing crowds with his electrifying introductions, Buffer will be back in the ring on Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles when 46-year-old RING and WBC light heavyweight titleholder Bernard Hopkins defends his belts against Chad Dawson on HBO Pay Per View.

Buffer also has joined Thomas “The Hit-Man” Hearns, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and trainer Freddie Roach, among others, as the most notable newcomers who are listed on the 2012 ballot as potential inductees to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.

Buffer’s resilience includes having overcome throat cancer in March of 2008, his first fight back from that ailment being Hopkins’ loss to Joe Calzaghe’s by 12-round unanimous decision in at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in April of 2008.

Buffer spoke to RingTV.com about his career in this Q&A.


RingTV.com: Why is enunciation of names so important?

Michael Buffer: That’s really important. The boxers really deserve the best. For Spanish names, I really like to role the “R,s.” I like to do that even though I’ve had people tell me, “You know, when there’s only one ‘R,’ you really not supposed to roll it.”

But it’s show business, and it’s a great effect. If you’ve ever gone to a Spanish-speaking country and listened to the radio, listen to a D.J., they really love to roll those R’s, and it’s just part of effect. Shakespearean actors roll their R’s when they speak English when they’re not supposed to.

It’s just something that became a habit for me. I like to do a lot of playing with the names and making sure that the nicknames get a lot of punch. As a fan, I think that’s what the fans want to hear. I check to make sure that the names are correctly pronounced.

I work in Europe a lot now, and we work with a lot of Eastern European fighters. This year alone, I’ve worked in Poland and Romania. I’ve worked in Austria and Germany, of course. There are a lot of the names from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

There are some really difficult names from Thailand and Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries. So you have to be able to say it right so that at least the fighter’s wife knows who you’re introducing.

RingTV.com: Can you discuss your trademark appearance?

MB: It’s funny that you would mention that. One of the things that I did years ago, was I would contact the people who hired the ring announcer. Years ago, once, I contacted the hotel where boxing was three, four times a week in Atlantic City, and I was making a living as a model then.

So I sent them a head shot, and I was in my middle to late thirties, and I used a picture with a tuxedo. I kind of put the thought into their heads that the hotel’s image would be better served with a — and pardon me for using this phrase — but a James Bond type of character.

You know, an image that sort of adds some sophistication to the event. It was just an idea and a thought, and it kind of got my foot in the door. That’s kind of why I’ve always been that way. I’ve always felt that image was important. I’m pushing 70 years old, and I still try to maintain a weight of 175 pounds.

RingTV.com: I understand that you just had back surgery?

MB: I just had back surgery about three weeks ago, so, yes, I’m walking with cane right now. But I still try to keep my weight down. I had back surgery, but then, eight days later, I had to fly to Germany for an appearance. Then, I had to come back to Atlantic City for Sergio Martinez against Darren Barker.

So I’ve been resting up this eek to try to get ready for Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson this weekend. Martinez- Barker was 12 days after my surgery, and I had my cane at ringside.

I’ve gotten some questions, sure. Most people that I ran into in Atlantic City I’ve known for three decades, so it’s like, “What’s up?”

You know. It’s a disc problem, and it’s just one of those things that you’ve got to live with. With the back problems, you know, I’m fortunate, because it’s started pretty late.

RingTV.com:  Do you care to share your thoughts on the cancer-related passings of Nick Charles, George Kimball, Jay Larkin and Genaro Hernandez?

MB: Oh, that’s so unfortunate. They were all great people. It’s heartbreaking. It’s really unfortunate. Genaro, as a person, was just one of the greatest guys that you ever want to meet. All of those guys were amazing individuals.

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