John Duddy Nails It

By Robert Ecksel on December 22, 2014
John Duddy Nails It
John Duddy will portray Scottish lightweight champion Ken Buchanan. (Robert Ecksel)

“I trusted with my heart and kept fighting with my heart, but your heart can only take you so far in that business…”

Overstaying one’s welcome in the sweet science can lead to disastrous consequences. Few fighters have the good sense to get out when the getting is good, but former middleweight contender John Duddy, who retired from boxing in 2011 with a 29-2 record, is one of them.

When I asked the 35-year-old Duddy if retirement agreed with him, he told me he had grown “tired of being hit.” He’d also grown tired of the shenanigans going on behind the scenes by those entrusted with watching his back.

“Boxing is a tough business,” Duddy, a master of understatement, told the New York Times. “I never knew how much money my fights generated, or how much money was coming in or going out. I was always kept in the dark. I was definitely mishandled, kind of like a horse led by a carrot from one fight to the next, always being told that my next fight would bring in more money. I trusted with my heart and kept fighting with my heart, but your heart can only take you so far in that business. After a while, you have to open your eyes and start thinking on your feet.”

It hasn’t been easy. After he left boxing, Duddy worked as a bartender. He now works as a “removal man.”

But Duddy, who left boxing with his good looks, Irish brogue, and level head intact, has been making forays into showbiz.

He portrayed young Bobby Cassidy in “Kid Shamrock,” a 2011 Off-Broadway play written by Robert Cassidy Jr. In 2013 Duddy played a boxer in a Bon Jovi video. And last year he worked on the set of “Grudge Match” — an abomination of a boxing movie starring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone — where Duddy choreographed the boxing scenes.

The downside of “Grudge Match” is that it is unwatchable. The upside is that Duddy formed “a bit of a friendship and a great rapport” with Robert De Niro during the six weeks they worked together.

De Niro’s boxing bona fides are well established, having portrayed Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s incomparable “Raging Bull.” The Academy Award winning actor’s next project, which was recently shot in Panama and L.A., is “Hands of Stone,” where he portrays Roberto Duran’s trainer, the legendary Ray Arcel.

De Niro, based on the “bit of a friendship and a great rapport” he established with Duddy, placed a call and arranged an audition, which the Derry Destroyer nailed. He’ll portray Scottish lightweight champion Ken Buchanan, who lost his title somewhat ignominiously to Duran at Madison Square Garden in 1972.

“Being involved in a project like that was one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Duddy told the Times. “In one scene, we were filming a news conference, when it finally hit me. I’m standing there thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m shooting a scene with Robert De Niro.’”

Anyone who has ever met Duddy can’t help but wish him the best.

“And hopefully, one day, they’ll also remember me for what I accomplished on the stage and on screen.”

(The complete New York Times article can be read here.)

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  1. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:17am, 12/23/2014

    Friggin’ North Korean commies at it again!

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:14am, 12/23/2014

    Tried to comment on the Kronk article but got shoulder rolled again!

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:07am, 12/23/2014

    All things considered, I’d say he’s doing pretty durn good…..pretty durn good indeed!

  4. Pete The Sneak 05:51am, 12/23/2014

    I’m glad Duddy is getting some good opportunities…One of the real good guys in this sport of ours…Had the pleasure of meeting him at MSG one time and the dude was super engaging, polite and totally down to earth. Damn near charmed my wife out of my arms with that smile and Irish brogue. Glad that he got out of boxing when he did. His heart, which was huge, superceded his talent in the ring and that was always a recipe for disaster. His fight with Yory Boy Campas was one of the more exciting fights of 2006… It demonstrated his tremendous heart in the ring, but at the same time it also showed that his skills were limited and that he could not last much longer fighting these type fights. By the by, I could not think of a better person to play the tough Ken Buchanan…Peace.

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