Cornerman - Buddy McGirt talks big wins, big losses, comebacks, building and ending careers


In Season 1, we had James “Buddy” McGirt on to discuss his legendary boxing career and how he got started in the sport. To go along with our theme of Season 2, we had Buddy back on to discuss how he became a Hall of Fame boxing trainer.

There are a lot of trainers that were boxers themselves and that’s with good reason. They are able to see what makes a good fighter and they are keen to insights during a fight that boxing fans and announcers aren’t. In this week’s sit down, Buddy and I discuss how he started training other boxers while he was still fighting, when he started training fighters for Don King, just what it takes to help a fighter rebound after taking a tough loss, and what goes into the decision to call a fight. Buddy touches on his hard decision to call a fight for his fighter, Maxim Dadashev, who ended up dying shortly after the fight and how his decision was applauded by those in the boxing community but it sticks with him to this day.

We break down how you know when your fighter is ready for the next step, his evolution during his coaching career, how his regrets have made him the man he is now, and what his plans are for the next 5-10 years (hint: he doesn’t expect to stop training any time soon.) As with any coaches, there is so much advice to be gathered from Buddy, who has a unique ability to garner trust from his athletes. He talks about why getting an education is so important, how adapting as a communicator makes getting through to people easier, and that not everybody can be taught the same way.

Listen to me go a few rounds of conversation with Buddy and learn why you never want him to give you a cigar.


  1. Educate yourself about money. .You always need lessons to fall back on.

  2. After suffering a setback, you have to be able to get back up and put it behind you.

  3. Thinking too much can be a bad thing. You have to trust yourself and your instincts.

  4. Sometimes you have to be the person to tell someone to move on. You don’t want to be a part of the destruction of a person, so you want to be a part of the next step in their life.

  5. Self-awareness is important as a leader. It is difficult to develop that, but those who have it can lead.

  6. If you see a noticeable change in someone, you should reward with a shot or challenge. You have to give people a chance to prove they are ready for more.

  7. There are different ways to get the best out of people. It’s up to you as a leader to be able to read them and figure out what motivational tools work.

  8. You aren’t going to be able to get through to everyone right away. Don’t get discouraged. Go home and come back with a solution.

Buddy McGirt Career Accomplishments

  • 73-6-1 boxing career with 48 KOs

  • WBC Continentals Americas light welterweight champion in 1985

  • IBF junior welterweight champion in 1988

  • WBC welterweight champion in 1991

  • 2002 “Trainer of the Year” honors by the BWAA

Key Conversation Takeaways

  • 1:22 – How Buddy started training

  • 3:01 – The main thing he told his amateur fighters

  • 4:45 – How he started up with Don King coaching marquee fighters for title shots

  • 11:07 – What the steps are to bringing back a fighter physically after a bad loss

  • 17:23 – What it takes to bring back a fighter psychologically after a bad beating

  • 22:42 – How he knows when a fighter is ready for the next step

  • 30:19 – Handling the moment in a fight when you have to throw in the towel

  • 34:12 – How to take care of a guy with a bad cut

  • 39:04 – How he has evolved as a coach over the years

  • 41:55 – His regrets during coaching

  • 43:16 – What his plans are for the next 5-10 years

  • 45:02 – What young coaches need to be prepared for

Notable Quotes

  • 2:52 - “At the time, I was helping young men pursue their dream and their goal but at the same time, I would remind them all ‘Make sure you get an education while you’re doing this as an amateur. Because this doesn’t last forever.’”

  • 5:23 - (On Jameel McCline) “He couldn’t fight a lick but, what I loved about him, was that he was there every day. He would get his ass kicked Monday and, Tuesday, he would be in the gym. He was there nonstop.”

  • 14:02 - “Part of what we’re trying to do with athletes is making them feel invincible. When they go into the ring that way and feel that confident, that’s when you get great fights.”

  • 17:29 - “Everyone’s different. You have to feel them (your fighter) out. You have to see what they’re willing to share with you and what they’re not willing to share with you. So you have to become their psychiatrist or psychologist, the person who they can feel comfortable to talk to.”

  • 20:32 - “I tell every fighter, ‘If I ever hand you a cigar, that means the game is over.’”

  • 26:17 - “He told me, ‘I have to get my cardio up.’ And I said ‘I’m going to help you get your cardio up. I’m gonna walk you to the door.’”

  • 36:02 - “At the end of the day, you have to save people from themselves. You have to put your relationship on the line to do it and it’s hard.”

  • 39:10 - “I got to understand people more. With this job, if you love it, you have to study your athlete day in and day out. I’ve learned different ways because everyone is different. You can’t talk to every fighter the same way.”

  • 42:02 - “Without regrets, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.”

  • 43:17 - “If God keeps me healthy, I want to develop a few more champions and do it for as long as I can. Then, if I get too old, I’ll just do it from a wheelchair.”

  • 48:14 - “Trust is at the core of all of this.”










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