History | Aug 22 2015

I confronted Mike Tyson’s bodyguard and told him to get his own towels

Matt Christie talks to veteran whip Ernie Draper about the manic life behind the scenes of British boxing
Mike Tyson long counts

ERNIE DRAPER has been a fixture in British boxing for over 40 years. Working as a whip behind the scenes of Frank Warren’s boxing shows, Draper has been up close and personal with most of the big-name fighters who have fought in Britain over the last 40 years. As he prepares to retire after Warren’s September shows at Limerick and Wembley, the 75-year-old shares some stories with us. It was the kind of chat that left Boxing News wanting to hear more, and preferably over a pint or three. We’ll see you down the boozer, Ernie. The first round is on us…

Tell us what your job has entailed over the years.
I go to the venue, go the dressing rooms and make sure they’re warm. You look down the list [of bouts], work out who don’t like who – and this is just a personal thing for me – and make sure they do not share a dressing room. Then you go on from there. Make sure there’s toilet rolls in the dressing rooms, give the gloves to the trainers, and as Frank [Warren] said to me when I started all those years ago: “You make sure everything is there for them.” Also at the weigh-in I get the weights, the short colours, get a list of the music, make sure they see the doctors before and after, and make sure the appropriate medical rooms are there for the doctors.

What has been your most hectic night?
Probably Frank Bruno-Oliver McCall [at Wembley Stadium, September 1995]. Those two had the main two dressing rooms where all the football teams go, you know but the undercard fighters were right at the other end of Wembley Stadium. It was a hell of walk. When I got out of bed the next day my legs would not work. They were completely stiff. But it was also my favourite event. The atmosphere was unbelievable, it really, really was.