(When this man talks, you listen. Occasionally you even understand.)
I called The Ultimate Fighter’s Al “Stankie” Stankiewicz for an interview and ended up getting a motivational speech. He can’t help it. That’s just what he does. As Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s eccentric old boxing coach, “Stankie” caught our eye early on this season with his antics, and as rumors filtered out about things he did off camera, we knew this was someone we wanted to talk to. Turns out the rumors are all true, but they don’t begin to tell the whole story.
We talked with “Stankie” recently to find out who he is and how he came to be standing next to Big Nog, going on semi-coherent rants about sardines. What we learned is that from working undercover during the Watts Riots, to training Oscar de la Hoya for the Olympics, here is a man who has lead an interesting life. And he was more than happy to tell us about it, in his own roundabout way.
CagePotato.com: Thanks for talking with us “Stankie.” I’ve read some about your background, but is it true that you were a cop in Los Angeles before becoming a boxer?
I joined the department in August of 1962. I came from back east, I went to college at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. I came out to California just to see the California girls and to surf. What happened was, it was so beautiful I fell in love with it. It was October and there was Rafer Johnson, the decathlon champion, playing volleyball with Wilt Chamberlain down in Santa Monica. I called home and talked to my sister and told her about seeing these two superstars on the beach playing volleyball, and she knew what a jock I was and how big that was for me. And she said, “Al, it’s twenty degrees below zero here and we’re having a blizzard.” That’s the point where I told her, “Sis, I love you, but I’m never coming back.”
I got a job selling shoes at first. I was twenty years old. I fell in love with almost every girl who came into the place. It was 1962 and jobs were kind of scarce. There was this big advertisement that said, “Join the LAPD! Be part of the thin blue line! $650 a month.” And in 1962, that was big money. So I went down to city hall and took the test. For the psych test there was a Rorschach ink blot test. I had gone to college and written a paper on that thing, so I knew what to say. If you looked at it and said you saw two dogs fucking underneath a tree with blood all over it, you know, you’d be in trouble. So I got through and suddenly I was a cop.