In anticipation for the upcoming release of “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym: Boxing and Manhood in Appalachia,” we are checking in with some of the most accomplished and respected boxing figures from the state of West Virginia. These are road warriors, guys who fight anyone, anywhere, anytime — Appalachian underdogs of the squared circle. Their toughness mirrors the toughness of West Virginia. Today’s guest is no different.
Like West Virginia greats such as Tommy Small, Billy Fox, and Christy Martin , his boxing career began in the Toughman circuit. After becoming a Toughman Champion, he quickly made a name for himself around the state – going 9-0-3 in his first 12 professional bouts. But make no mistake about it, today’s guest is more than a local fighter. He has taken on the likes of Oleksandr Gvozdyk (current WBO Lightheavyweight Champion), Mike Lee (current USBA Lightheavyweight Champion), and Lane Bellows of Floyd Mayweather’s Money Team. He has fought in New York City, Las Vegas, and California. Today’s guest is a West Virginia road warrior with dynamite in his fists. Please welcome to the “Lo’s Gym Blog,” my second favorite Mike Snyder in the fight game, Fleming, West Virginia’s Super Middleweight slugger, Mike Snider.
One of the central characters in my upcoming book, “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym,” is Curtis “The Ice Man” Wright (Cowen, West Virginia). Curtis was a two-time Toughman Champion who fought out of my father’s gym. His only loss came in the championship bout of the Elkins Toughman Contest against you. Any memories from that bout? It was a pretty good fright, from what I can remember.
Curtis was tough. I can still remember that match like it was yesterday. Lots of action and lots of heavy punches thrown in that fight. As to one particular thing that stands out, I guess there’s not just one thing because the whole fight was action packed.
Before the opening night of the Elkins Toughman Contest, my father looked at the bout sheet and joked that “Mike Snider” had to be the toughest guy in the tournament. You and my father have since become friends. Give us your take on the other Mike Snyder in West Virginia boxing?
Your dad is a great man. Very respectful and kind. Nothing but good things to say when we talk. He’s a one of a kind and I’m glad the Lord gave me the opportunity to know and become friends with him. Every single time I meet someone from the area and I tell them my name, more times than not, the next words that come out of their mouth will be “I know of a Mike Snyder who trains fighters — any relation?” I tell them we aren’t related and then I go on about how great of a guy he is. I really just appreciate the words of wisdom I’ve received from your dad and all the support I’ve received from him. He’s truly a good man.
I recently interviewed Jeremy “The Beast” Bates and he said your victory over Bellows last summer is a sign that West Virginia boxing is about to enter a new era of respectability. Why do you think it is so difficult for West Virginia boxers to break into the industry?
I think there is a lack of respect for West Virginia fighters. That is why we’re having such a hard time opening doors to the boxing industry. You know we’re working 40-50 hours a week plus training and trying to make time for our families, which I have to say I’m blessed when it comes to support. My family and friends are behind me 100%.
Okay, now let’s talk about your big upset back in June. Take us back to your memories of your bout with Lanell Bellows in Las Vegas.
Man, not a day goes by that I don’t think about the whole week and how great it was and how nice everyone was to us even before the fight. You know everyone calls it an upset but my team and myself never once saw it as an upset. We saw a very good fighter who makes a lot of the same mistakes over and over. I knew that if I listen to my trainer Tim Wheeler in between rounds and implemented the game plan we would walk away winners.
Your trainer, Tim Wheeler, was also my trainer when I boxed as an amateur. I interviewed Tim earlier this year and he said that you guys only had three weeks to train for the Bellows fight. Did you see something in the tape that you felt you could exploit?
Tim was very excited about this fight. He knew this one was ours. Before I even knew about the offer he was watching video and studying Bellows and then when I saw him I believe we were at Jerry Thomas’s office, Jerry told me the offer and Tim smiled and said if I listen we will win. I listened and we won!
How does it feel knowing that you upset one of Floyd Mayweather’s top prospects?
You know it feels good, but as I set back and think about it, they are thinking the same thing as a lot of people are thinking. They are thinking it was an upset or a fluke. I believe I should’ve been there. I believe that I should’ve won in the fashion that I did. I’ve been fighting my whole life. Nothing has ever been easy for me in my life. I regret walking away from boxing in 2005 but in the same sense I believe God has a plan and there was a reason I left for awhile. Now I’ve got a great team great, great sparring partners, and a great supportive family. I know I’m old in boxing years but I believe I have a little more noise to make in this sport.
What’s next for Mike Snider?
In not sure what’s gonna be next but whatever it is I’m gonna make the most of the opportunity and hopefully be blessed with another big win!
Thanks for your time, champ. You represent West Virginia boxing very well, both in and outside the ring.
Thanks, Todd. It’s an honor to be a part of your book. Please tell your dad hello from me and hope he’s enjoying his retirement from coal mining.
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