Legendary MC, former boxer Cormega (Photo courtesy of slamonline.com)
Sacrifice comes with the dedication it takes to become a legendary MC, but forgoing boxing and not knowing what he could’ve accomplished in the ring weighs heavy on Cormega’s mind.
Cormega (Twitter: @realcormega) is awaiting the autumn release of his next album, a collaboration with Large Professor entitled “Mega Philosophy.” Cormega has released seven retail albums, including the hip hop gem, “The Testament,” flooded mixtapes, been featured in an abundance of other artists’ songs and rocked mics across the globe for nearly two decades. His finely crafted music is evidence that Cormega is passionate about real hip hop, however, the Queensbridge MC is equally enthusiastic a combat sport.
Cormega, though, not an avid MMA fan, is well-versed in boxing. Cormega’s experience with the sweet science is unique, as he competed as a welterweight behind the walls of Rikers Island penitentiary. If the lyricist chose four-punch combos over 16-bar verses upon release from prison, the world may have witnessed the New York native perform on a different stage.
“I definitely had medals in boxing,” Cormega told Jason Kelly and Step Easy on MMA Cypher Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “I was a USA amateur registered boxer, I used to actually box. I won a few gold medals in amateur boxing. I worked with Donald Hayes, I sparred with David Telesco before.
“It was predicted I’d win Golden Gloves when I came home, it was predicted by people that knew of me. I was ahead of the game, boxing came easy to me, so it was like I was playing. People used to compare me to Pernell Whitaker, actually, people used to call me “Sweat P” in jail. They used to call me “Sweat P” and “Sugar Ray” (after Ray Leonard). Like, some of the stuff (Anderson) Silva does, like stick his head out and that, I definitely did all of that. I was pretty good, and boxing is actually my biggest regret, that I didn’t follow that dream when I came home.”
Being fortunate enough to have such athletic potential in the sport makes one wonder why Cormega did not see his boxing dreams through.
Options are something that are weighed when a person has choices. Cormega’s choices, whether it be the street, the ring or the mic, all appeared to be fruitful. When the outcome of one involves death or jail, and the other could possibly result in facial fractures and concussions, Cormega selected a route that was running familiar amongst his peers.
“I came home to a (expletive) record deal,” Cormega said. “I came home to “The Firm.” Plus one of the main things you can’t do is have interactions with a female, and you can’t just tell someone who just came home from jail that. I’m ready to train, but I’m ready to do other things too. Meanwhile, my friends are some of the most popular rappers in the world. When I came home, (Mobb Deep’s classic) “Shook Ones” was the new record. (Nas’) “Illmatic” was a year old, “It Was Written” was being recorded, everything was taking off so quickly it was like, ‘Damn.’ So I definitely didn’t feel like going back to the ring.”
Sure, Cormega has had a successful career and will be remembered as one of the illest MCs to ever rock a mic, but he still has the “what if” questions. Being a naturally talented human being at anything is a gift, so to walk away from something you were blessed with and not explore its full potential usually leads to wondering. Cormega is comfortable with his decision to hit the recording booth, but the thoughts of what he could have been still haunt him.
“If you have something that you love, and something else comes forth, don’t stop what you love, you can do both” Cormega said. “I regret not doing both. I was watching something recently and my back started sweating just from watching the fight, I get anxiety. There’s other times I’m watching a fight and I’m like, ‘I would kill this dude.’ I look at someone’s technique and punch power and movement, and I’m like, this dude is wack.”
Having previous experience and keeping in tune with the fight game allow Cormega to intelligently dissect current and potential matches. He may not have the MMA prowess of a Bas Rutten, but he has seen enough to know he is a fan of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Cormega said he is impressed with every part of “The Spider’s” game, from the knockouts to the submissions. When talks of Silva vs. Roy Jones Jr., who Cormega is also a fan of, in a boxing match came up, the creator of “Born and Raised” provided his thoughts on the bout.
“Roy is a different fighter, last few fights he’s had he’s been a different fighter, so, I don’t know,” Cormega said. “And Silva? Silva, I don’t know how good Silva is at boxing, I know he’s a jack of all trades in fighting, he has many different styles, but that would be interesting.”
As much as Cormega would expect a competitive match between Silva and Jones in the squared circle, he views a boxer’s chances of succeeding in MMA much slimmer.
“A lot of boxers are arrogant and they didn’t give the mixed martial arts fighters their proper dues, they didn’t give them that respect,” Cormega said. “They looked at it like, ‘Man, I’m a boxer, I’m a professional, my hands are registered, I knock people out, blah, blah, blah.’ So they’re looking at (mixed martial artists) as they’re not really polished fighters, but they need to understand there’s different techniques that boxers don’t have. In order for a boxer to be successful (in MMA), you have to erase his whole memory of what he knows and become novice at a new sport. Master the takedowns, master the submissions, master that craft because there’s different angles to winning. You might be a better boxer than this guy, and this guy knows you’re a better boxer, so he’s going to use other ways to beat you. You have to know how to use your feet, hands, everything. Your defense has to be flawless. Your defense has to be to the point where I’m down on my back, but now I’m going to use my feet to attack this dude and choke the (expletive) out of him. The same way you study greatness in boxing, you study greatness in (MMA). I think that a boxer that does that and does things the right way would be a dangerous mother f’er.”
To Cormega, like most fans of the sport, boxing has lost its luster due to the politics. He finds most weight classes require more depth, and has come to terms that Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is not likely ever going to happen. He still watches the bouts he can, but notices a lack of star quality athletes. However, the sport will always have a place in his heart.
“Boxing to me is like that good girlfriend you let get away,” Cormega said. “You’re just like, ‘Damn.’ I regret that I didn’t continue boxing, I regret it.”
*Editor’s note: Radio interview contains detailed stories of some of Cormega’s matches,including knocking an opponent out of the ring, plus a lot of hip hop talk.