On Monday, October 9 from 5:30 – 11:00 PM, Pittsburgh area boxers will take on boxers from Italy at The Grand Hall at the Priory.
The event is presented by Pittsburgh Building Trades Donnybrook. Former World Champion and Boxing Hall of Fame member Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini will coach top amateur boxers from Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, while Olympic Gold Medal boxer Roberto Cammarelle will be managing the best boxers from Italy.
One of the Pittsburgh boxers is a friend of Ciao Pittsburgh, Michael Manna. We interviewed Michael about 4 years ago, but chatted with him again and updated our Q&A with him below.
Ciao Pittsburgh: How many years have you been fighting?
Michael: I had my first actual fight in 2011.
Ciao Pittsburgh: How did you get into boxing?
Michael: To prove something. When I was a kid, I would mess around in the boxing gyms but never fought until 2011. I wanted to do something to occupy my time plus I wanted to prove a point that no matter what life or someone throws at me, I will still be standing at the end.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What kind of training do you do during the year to stay in shape?
Michael: A lot of running and a lot of boxing-training which consists of shadow boxing, bag work, mid work, sparring, jumping rope, and running for rounds. Running for rounds means that I’ll take the number of rounds I will fight and try to run as hard as a I can on a track for three 3-minute rounds with a minute break in between. This allows me to get used to the rounds and catching my breath after each round.
Ciao Pittsburgh: How do you mentally prepare for a fight?
Michael: Everyone thinks you should listen to crazy music to get yourself pumped. That’s not the case. Throughout the day, you have to remain calm and relaxed. Because when you’re tense, that’s how you lose speed and can get knocked out. You don’t react as quick and you need to stay loose. I try to relax and keep my mind at peace. Before the fight, I try to warm up by shadow boxing so I’m loose and ready to go.
Ciao Pittsburgh: Is there anyone in the boxing world that you aspire to be like?
Michael: I’m a street fighter turned boxer. But if I can be like anyone, it would be Rocky Marciano. I’m associated with him because of the way I fight: I’m an exciting fighter and I always come forward. Although I take massive amounts of shots, I just keep coming forward. I’m a tough fighter and usually end up getting the knockout. I like Rocky because he would never allow himself to get defeated, kind of like myself. I can lose — and I have lost fights — but I have never been beaten.
Ciao Pittsburgh: Let’s talk about the Pittsburgh vs Italy boxing event next week. You’re one of the top amateur boxers going up against the best boxers from Italy? What does this event mean for your career, and what can fans expect come fight night?
Michael: I wasn’t picked because I’m the best or I’m anywhere in the area of being a very good boxer. I was picked because I’m an exciting fighter to watch and everyone knows I work hard. I’m not going to give up. Every boxer at the event is more technically sound than I am.
What this means for my career as a boxer is something I have been working towards for awhile and trying to get something like this to happen for awhile. It means a lot to have an Italian team come over because my heritage is Italian. It also means a lot to be able to fight the best. Their coach is an Olympic Gold Medalist and I told him when I fight, I want to beat the best. And if I lose, I want to lose to the best.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What kind of fight are you expecting?
Michael: I’m expecting to be hit with a lot of fast shots and an in-and-out style—a lot of jumping, throw a punch and jump back out.
Ciao Pittsburgh: Anything else to add?
Michael: I fight to give people hope that no matter what is being thrown at you, if you keep moving forward, you’re going to be standing in the end.
Ciao Pittsburgh: Have you ever been to Italy? If yes, which city was your most memorable?
Michael: Yes. In Sicily Campofelice Di Rocella. It is where my family is from and is right on the beach.
Ciao Pittsburgh: Do you and your family keep up with any Italian traditions? If yes name a few.
Michael: Yes. Scopa – Italian card game. We watch Italian soccer every Sunday. We make Sopressata and wine every year.
Ciao Pittsburgh: When you hear the word Italy or Italian, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
Michael: How people think we are suppose to act like the scum on Jersey Shore! To me I think of where I have come from and the example I should set for my kids.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What does being Italian mean to you?
Michael: It means that I have a proud heritage and am proud of my people.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What is your favorite Italian food or dish?
Michael: Martrigiana. It is famous in Rome and if it’s made right it is the best thing you will ever eat.
Ciao Pittsburgh: In Pittsburgh, where is your favorite place to eat?
Michael: Piccolo Forno. Everything is made right the way it is in Italy.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What do you love most about Pittsburgh?
Michael: Everything is convenient and a very livable city.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What is your occupation?
Ciao Pittsburgh: How or what made you choose your career?
Michael: I wanted to help people and build a great life for my family.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What do you do in your spare time?
Michael: I love boxing.
Ciao Pittsburgh: What is your favorite car?
Michael: Cadillac Deville.