Chuck Zito talks about Joe Palooka, falling out with Charlie Sheen and everything MMA in this interview

Since MiddleEasy began a few years ago, I always envisioned snagging an interview with a guy that has more testosterone in his fingernail than the entire male population of Idaho combined. Hollywood writers only wish they could come up with something as entertaining as Chuck Zito’s life. Golden Glove boxer turned active member of Hell’s Angel who created his own bodyguard company and eventually became a stuntman and later joined the cast of ‘Oz’ on HBO. Of course, I left out a couple hundred street fights in between, but I’m sure you can use your imagination. Chuck Zito sat down with us to discuss the new restart of the classic comic ‘Joe Palooka‘, along with Nick Diaz, Charlie Sheen, Fedor, Hell’s Angels and a potpourri of other topics that I’m sure you will take interest in.


[important title=”A few weeks ago you mentioned that you were going to move to California, what exactly happened with that?”]”Oh, I don’t know. I was supposed to go out there and do a hit show with Charlie Sheen, ‘Anger Management.’ When I went out there for the roast, I mean I was living with Charlie when I first went out there and then I went back a couple weeks later and started training again every day. Then I went back out there again three weeks later and Charlie never saw me, never called me, nothing. I don’t even know what’s going on.”[/important]


[important title=”If you did move to the West Coast, what would happen to that tattoo shop that you opened up?”]”The tattoo shop, I’ll keep it running. I have a partner here. That’s where I’m at now, they’re doing a pilot for a possible TV show right now.”[/important]


[important title=”Any possibility of re-opening the dojo? It seemed you put a lot of sweat and passion into getting it up.”]”Now that I’m not going to California, yeah. There’s a place right across the street that we’re looking at. Right from the tattoo shop that I’m going to put my dojo.”[/important]


[important title=”So it’s decided, no more California?”]”Nope, no more California. Going to ‘Plan B.'”[/important]


[important title=”It seems like a lot of people have, for a lack of a better word, ‘screwed’ you around, including Charlie Sheen. Why do you think that is?”]”That’s Hollywood, sweetheart. It seems a lot of people bullshit you. You learn from life. It’s happened to me over and over again and I keep learning I guess…but no more. I’ll never take Charlie’s word anymore, because he promised me…he gave me his word that I’ll be doing his show, promised me that I’ll be getting points on his show that’s worth a few million dollars…and that’s it. So now I don’t take anyone’s word anymore. On my dojo, I went on a handshake. I’ll never shake anybody’s hand again when it comes to business. Never.”[/important]


[important title=”Was there any explanation as to why things went sour with Charlie?”]”No, no…I went down there to go see him because I had a birthday gift for him, his assitant came out of his house and said ‘Charlie said it’s a bad time, you should call first. He’s in a meeting.’ I said ‘Well when did I ever have to call Charlie to come to his house?’ He said ‘Things have changed.’ I said ‘What, in three weeks?’ That was the only explanation I got. He said ‘[Charlie] will call you when he’s ready’ and I never heard from him again. It’s been two months, so I don’t expect to hear from Charlie Sheen any time soon. “[/important]


[important title=”So what are you doing at the New York Comic Con?”]”Basically my friend, Joe Antonacci, bought the rights to the old comic book fighter ‘Joe Palooka.’ So now he’s doing a new comic book, instead of a boxer he’s an MMA fighter. I’m involved with the MMA, I’ve been involved with boxing my whole life and I’m the new spokesperson for the comic book. I’ll be signing the new Joe Palooka comics and just doing a bunch of interviews.”[/important]


[important title=”Were you a fan of the first Joe Palooka comic book that was released some years ago?”]”Oh yeah, of course. My father was a professional fighter so I used to read that. I think it dates back to the 1940s if I’m not mistaken.[Joe Antonacci] has got all the rights to it and now he’s making him an MMA fighter which is a very good idea because everybody’s into MMA today. I think it will do well. I’m happy for him, I’m happy for me because I’m going to be the spokesperson for it. They said 200,000 will go to the [New York] Comic Con, so I’ll be looking forward to meeting and greeting everbody and signing comic books.”[/important]


[important title=”In ‘Chuck Zito’s View‘, you seem to throw in a few references to MMA each show, how long have you been following the sport?”]”I’ve been doing mixed martial arts before MMA was even born. The UFC started in 1993, I went to the first UFC fight that was in Denver, Colorado and there was only 20 people in the audience. I’ve been following the UFC since the beginning. I tried to make all the fights, but now it’s so big, they’re all over the world…they’re in Abu Dhabi, they’re in England — at the end of the month I’ll see Georges St. Pierre fight Carlos Condit in the Mandalay Bay in Vegas.”[/important]


[important title=”Who do you have in that fight?”]”Well Georges St. Pierre is a dear friend of mine, he also trains at Renzo Gracie in New York City so of course I’m going to go with Georges St. Pierre.”[/important]


[important title=”Why didn’t we see you participate in the early UFCs?”]”Well you got to realize I was married, a father and husband at seventeen and that’s why I didn’t follow my boxing career. I did want to get into it when it first came around. When the Fertittas bought the UFC, I told Dana White I wanted to be a commentator, I wanted to be a referre…I wanted to fight. A lot of people were skeptical about the Hell’s Angels. I was a Hell’s Angel for 25 years, they were a little nervous…they didn’t want to get involved.”[/important]


[important title=”It’s rumored that Art Davie considered offering you a slot in one of the early UFC shows, but he felt that your affiliation with Hell’s Angels may ‘complicate’ things.”]”I think people want to go and see a fighter, especially if he’s a Hell’s Angel. But a lot of people didn’t want to, for business reasons I guess. It held me back…I did a reality show thirteen years ago called ‘Street Justice.’ I was the judge of the streets. I would show up on my motorcycle or my corvette, I would listen to your disupute and then I would make a decision. USA [Networks] shot the pilot, it cost $500,000 to shoot the pilot. Two nights before it aired, they pulled it because they said the FEDs called them and they said they didn’t want a Hell’s Angel to have his own reality show. I feel that show would still be on today, that’s how good it was. They were overreacting. Of course, they didn’t want the Hell’s Angels to be popular with anybody. Like they said, it would make it too big in the public’s eye. Don’t forget the Hell’s Angels are the biggest motorcycle club in the world, everybody else is just a cheap imitation. The Hell’s Angels were top of the food chain, so to have a show with me being a Hell’s Angel, it would glorify the club and that’s why the FEDs stopped it. They scared the producers from showing it and who are you going to listen to: the government or me?”[/important]


[important title=”You’ve been following the sport for a while, why isn’t Fedor, Fedor anymore?”]”Well I never thought Fedor was a good fighter to begin with. I didn’t think he was a good boxer, the only thing Fedor had was that he was a hard puncher. That’s what he did, he knocked a lot of people out. Andrei Arlovski, he didn’t even last a round and he was beating Fedor to the punch and then for some stupid reason when he got Fedor against the ropes, he tried to hit him with a jumping knee. Fedor threw a overhand right, hit him on the chin and knocked him out cold. Fedor always hit hard, but I didn’t think he was that great of a fighter. I always thought Randy Couture would beat him. Look at Fedor, he lost his last three fights…so it all came out.”[/important]


[important title=”Do you think he was competiting against lesser competition prior to coming to Strikeforce?”]”Ah…it wasn’t that. He was OK, he wasn’t a great fighter. If he was great, he wouldn’t have loss three in a row, maybe he would have lost one. The greatest of all is Muhammad Ali, he got beat and came back. The greats get beat and they come back.”[/important]


[important title=”What do you think about his comments that he lost because it was ‘God’s will?'”]”Nah, it was the guy’s right hand. That’s the ‘God’s will.’ What, God doesn’t want him to win anymore? Don’t forget, you have more younger guys coming in. They train harder. The sport gets better and better. So these guys are adapting to all these old fighters. Look at Royce Gracie, I mean he was beating everybody. He was only 170 lbs and he was beating guys 200 lbs, taking them down and choking them out. Look what happened, throughout the years, the fighters got better and Matt Hughes knocked him out.”[/important]


[important title=”At the moment you don’t have a professional MMA record, but what would your Street MMA record be?”]”Oh, I’ve had hundreds of street fights. I’ve never been knocked out in my life and I’ve never been beat since I was five years old…so I’m doing pretty good.”[/important]


[important title=”If a promoter offered you a fight, Chuck Zito vs. Kimbo Slice in a MMA fight, would you consider it?”]”I was supposed to fight Kimbo Slice. We were going to fight because he was known as a street fighter. It would have been great because he was 34-years-old and I was 56 at the time. Now he was up-and-coming, beating everybody and we were supposed to fight. Then he was supposed to fight Ken Shamrock, then Ken Shamrock pulled out so they put the guy on the undercard, Petruzelli and he knocked Kimbo out in one round. So once he got beat, there was no sense in fighting him anymore. He wasn’t a legend anymore, he wasn’t undefeated.”[/important]


[important title=”So no plans in the future for MMA?”]”You never know, if they come up with the money I’ll do it. It doesn’t matter who it is, as long as they paid me the right money. If I wanted to fight Randy they would say ‘he’s an old man’ even though I’m older than him. He wasn’t even born when I had my first ring fight.”[/important]


[important title=”Do you think James Toney has a future in MMA or was that fight against Randy Couture just a novelty thing?”]”Forget about it, forget about it. He’s got no future in MMA, he’s got no future in boxing no more. He’s out of shape, overweight…everything. He’s a joke. For him to go against Randy Couture, I knew Randy would just shoot on him and take him down and ground and pound…and that’s exactly what he did. That was a joke, he’ll never fight again. If he does then that means he got brain damage.”[/important]


[important title=”When Dana White took away Nick Diaz’s title shot against GSP, do you think it was justified? Was it the right thing to do?”]”I don’t think so. I mean, I like Nick Diaz. I thought that would have been a great fight. The reason being, they said Nick Diaz did not come to the press conference, now he’s fighting on the same card? I don’t understand that. If they don’t want him to fight, then take him out. But to put him on the same card? That’s retarded, if you’re going to put him on the same card, keep him in the main event. I thought that would have been a great, great fight. I love Nick Diaz. Now he’s fighting BJ Penn and I’ll be ringside for the fight, so I’ll see what happens.”[/important]


[important title=”So based on that, you have Nick Diaz over BJ Penn?”]”Well I’ll tell you what, it depends on which BJ Penn comes in. BJ is a great fighter, he has good striking and great jiu-jitsu, but then again so does Nick Diaz. That’s going to be a good fight. I know them both so I’m not really rooting for either of them…may the best man win.”[/important]


[important title=”Sort of off topic, but is Charlie Sheen into MMA? I assume you guys have watched a few MMA events in the past”]”Well I was going to take him to some of the fights, I was actually going to take him to the GSP fight [UFC 137] but now since I haven’t talked to him, I guess he’ll watch it on TV. He likes it.”[/important]


[important title=”Oz has to be like one of the top ten shows in TV history, when can we see you on television again?”]”Oz was the best show on HBO, hands down. I just read for a movie with Mark Walberg and Russel Crowe called ‘Broken City‘ so I think I’ve got the part. I went to auditions the other day so I’ll probably be in that. They want to do a reality show with my tattoo shop, so I might be on TV for that.”[/important]


[important title=”Finally, what does ‘Baba‘ mean? Is that an East Coast thing?”]”Baba! It’s an Italian thing, it means ‘friend.’ You see a guy, you say ‘Hey Baba!'”[/important]

Published on October 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm
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