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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 May, 2005, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
When Rourke sparred with Duran

Mickey Rourke
Rourke showed softer hands in the film "Nine-and-a-half Weeks"
Better known for roles in "Nine-and-a-half Weeks" and "Sin City", Hollywood star Mickey Rourke was also a half-decent professional boxer in his time.

He sparred with legends Roberto Duran, James Toney and Thomas Hearns, and has many an interesting tale to tell, as BBC Radio Five Live's Colin Paterson found out on The Eamonn Holmes Show.

How good a boxer were you?

It's hard to tell. Some days I was good, some days I was not so good. It's like anything else. But I was in the gym most of my life from the age of 11 until several years ago, and my pro record was 11 wins and two draws.

So you never lost?

No, but I got my arse kicked every day in the gym.

I was working out with James Toney and Roberto Duran and the best guys in the world. My trainer was Freddie Roach, so I had the best people around me.

And when I was a kid I was in Angelo Dundee's gym with Muhammad Ali.

What's it like boxing with Duran?

I used to watch Nigel Benn throw punches - he had thunder in his hands

Scary. I sparred with him at the later stages of his boxing life when I had some height and strength on him. But he was so crafty.

I remember one time I'd been sparring with him in Miami ahead of one of his fights and I was kind of having my way with him - still getting my arse kicked but not that bad.

All of a sudden he's in there with another kid and he knocks him out cold for 25 minutes, and he says: "Come on Mickey", but he was alright with me.

I got hurt a couple of times, though.

I once did a little sparring with Tommy Hearns. He hit me at two in the afternoon and I went down to a knee. At four in the morning, I was still throwing up.

And then there was Nigel Benn. He was down in Miami and I used to look at him throw his right hand and I thought: "I don't ever want to spar him." He had thunder in his hands.

How painful is it?

Hollywood star Mickey Rourke is declared the winner of a boxing bout in 1991
Rourke celebrates winning a fight in 1991
You know, you get de-sensitised to a degree. If you get an uppercut or a body shot that can hurt, but you don't really feel much, and that's where the trouble starts.

What injuries do you still carry from boxing?

Too many to mention. I stopped boxing when I failed a neurological test and started to get short-term memory loss.

I could remember stuff from 15 years ago but 15 seconds before was tricky. I was advised to stop.

Do you still follow the game?

Yes, very much so.

Who is the best pound-for-pound fighter?

I love Arturo Gatti and Kostya Tszyu is real good.

I'm a Ricky Hatton fan but he's going to have his hands full when he meets Tszyu (on 5 June) I think.

Kostya's levelling out and Ricky's coming up. It's going to be a real tough fight - too close to call. I wouldn't bet on that one.

Interview: Micky Rourke on BBC Radio Five Live

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