Paul Williams celebrates his victory over Winky Wright with his son Paul Williams Jr. and trainer George Peterson
after their middleweight boxing match, Saturday, April 11, in Las Vegas.Â Peterson is clear cut trainer of the year candidate.
Veteran Coach a Leading Candidate for 2009 Trainer of the Year
From the days when he was a really skinny kid with little amateur experience to today where he is now a skinny young man that has unquestionably become the most feared boxer on the planet, the man behind Paul “The Punisher” Williams has been manager-trainer George Peterson.
The well-respected Peterson, a Washington D.C.-native who now resides in Aiken, S.C., has been in Williams’ corner for 11 years. The classy and honorable Peterson is overdue in his worldwide recognition with the prestigious ‘Trainer of the Year’ honors.
Peterson was a policeman in D.C. for more than 20 years before becoming involved in the toughest of all sports. “I boxed as an amateur and did some amateur coaching with the Police Boys Club in D.C. for a few years,” he said. “Several guys, after their modest amateur careers, wanted to turn pro but they didn’t want anybody else to work with them but me. That’s basically how I got into boxing.”
Since 1998, Peterson has served the Al Haymon and Goossen Tutor Promotions superstar in countless capacities – most notably as a father figure but also as a manager, coach, trainer, confidant, mentor, inventor, and friend. You name it he’s been it for the talented Williams.
“By the time we got together, Paul had reached a point where he wasn’t satisfied with his amateur career and wanted to become a professional boxer,” Peterson recalled. “He thought he would be able to accomplish what he wanted in the pro ranks so he just decided to turn pro.”
In the beginning and even today, it wasn’t merely Williams’ talent that impressed Peterson, but his dedication and attitude.
“I saw that Paul had the love and passion for boxing, and that’s all I needed to know,” Peterson said. “I told him, ‘give me 110 percent and I’ll make a champion out of you. That’s all I need from you is 110 percent.’ People always ask, ‘what did you see in him?’ It wasn’t so much what I saw; it was just what I believed, and I believed in him.”
“And Paul believed in himself too and that was it. From day one, I didn’t have any doubt.”
Knowing he had something special, the wise and knowledgeable Peterson formulated a plan designed to polish the skills of the aspiring World Champion.
It began with the pair visiting countless training camps and traveling the South in search of the best sparring partners. That worked for a while, and Williams gained some experience and his fundamentals improved.
Eventually, they outgrew the local gyms and the scarce opposition in South Carolina – Peterson owns a gym in Aiken – and in Augusta, Georgia.
“We had to get on the road and move around quite a bit,” Peterson said. “We moved all around the South, went up to the Poconos, went to Puerto Rico. There wasn’t anything local about us.
“I wanted Paul to get different looks and eventually he was able to recognize those different styles. He learned how to protect himself defensively and how to use those skills offensively. It was a simultaneous training and development process that he went through and he did well every step of the way.”
Looking back at his start with Peterson, Williams said, “I’d been in the ring with so many champions. But he was like, ‘I’m going to take you to every gym I possibly can and let you spar with every champion there is to get a different look and atmosphere. You’re going to need this when you get in the ring years down the road with other champions.’ He was right!”
The confident, workmanlike attitude Williams and Peterson displayed in their early years together is still intact today as Peterson has expertly molded the stylish, six-foot-two-inch southpaw into a polished, multi-talented boxer-puncher who remains a dangerous threat to any prizefighter from 147-168 pounds.
Of course, only a handful in those four talent-rich weight classes have been brave enough to take on Williams, a trend that has followed Williams’ for the past few years. Former World Champion Winky Wright, one of the most experienced and respected fighters of this generation, stepped up to the challenge on April 11, 2009 and was thoroughly beaten like no other time in his Hall of Fame career.
“Before we fought Winky, we thought nobody with a name would fight Paul,” Peterson said. “It was a big surprise that Winky agreed to fight us and we have tremendous respect for him for doing so.”
So, now, Williams and Peterson find themselves at the top of the sport after his recent dominating performances.
“I just want to keep working hard and have Paul improve in every fight,” said Peterson, who has developed a menacing fighter very few dare to step in the ring against. “Paul wants to fight anyone who believes they are the best.”
“He wants to let his fighting in the ring show the fans that he is the best fighter in boxing. The other fighters that think they are the best eventually will be forced to fight Paul to prove it. “
Peterson, who should know, considers Williams one of the most prolific fighters in the last 20 years. “Paul makes a statement every fight. Everybody he’s fought, he beat convincingly. Paul Williams is in a situation where we believe he can match the great accomplishments of Tommy Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, and then some,” Peterson said. “It’s just this guy’s time.”
“This is absolutely the best trainer/fighter relationship, in and out of the ring, I have ever witnessed,” stated Williams’ promoter Dan Goossen. I ask any fight fan, promoter, or boxing historian to tell me what fighter in the history of our great sport has had the high-energy, punch output that Paul exhibits round after round, fight after fight? The credit naturally goes to the fighter, but we have to recognize the driving force behind the fighter. I certainly do.”
“Paul being as feared as he is, is a good thing. I remember the Marvin Hagler years of trying to get a big name into the ring after winning his World Championship. It took the “destroy and destruct” left-hander three years after winning the championship to get the big fight (Roberto Duran) he so desired.
“Paul got Winky after one year of his championship, and Paul’s well on his way of being the marquee attraction in our sport as reflected in his April 11 HBO rating that outdistanced the highly anticipated Shane Mosley-Antonio Margarito broadcast. Fans appreciate his toughness and work ethic in the ring and it shows in the television ratings.
Concluded Goossen, “George Peterson has taken this skinny young kid and transformed him into being one of the most exciting fighters in the World today as well as the “Most Feared.” End of story.”