Michael Buffer has one of the most popular catchphrases and vocal styles in sports. After the 2012 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee introduces the boxers in each corner, he emphatically pronounces:.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
Buffer, 75, has been a ring announcer for 38 years. He also has been in demand to emcee football, basketball, and hockey postseason games, wrestling matches, auto races, and weddings, among other events.
He was born in South Philadelphia, and grew up in Roslyn, Montgomery County. He’s proud of those roots. Buffer is one of the biggest Eagles fans there is, he loves Pat’s King of Steaks, and his favorite Philly boxer is Bernard Hopkins.
Buffer was a car salesman and model in Philadelphia before he found his calling in the ring in 1982. As a fan, he stayed around boxing as it flourished in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
“When you’re a horrible car salesman, it’s pretty easy to find another line of work,” he said.
Buffer joined Inquirer Live at Lunch to discuss his Philly roots, race in boxing, and his unique journey from car salesman to Hall of Fame ring announcer.
Boxing has long experienced issues with race. The “Great White Hope” was a nickname for any white boxer who could challenge African American heavyweight champion Jack Johnson in the early 1900s.
Muhammad Ali’s social activism and the 2017 Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight evoked signs of racism in the ring. Buffer also pointed to the Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney fight in 1982, where Cooney was described as the “Great White Hope.”
“It’s amazing ... 1982," Buffer said of the racist reference in the not-so-distant past. “The sport of boxing does have that. For me, it’s been a blessing to work in such a great field that has diversity in the ranks.”
Growing up, Buffer was a big Ali fan who “lived and died with every word he said.” That caused him to not like Philly’s own Joe Frazier, whom he saw as the enemy when he was younger.
“As I got to know him through the years, [he was] just the sweetest guy,” Buffer said of Frazier. “It broke my heart when he passed.”
Buffer has seen some of boxing best matches up close and personal over the years. He pointed out a few matches that came to mind in his career.
Prince Naseem Hamed’s fourth-round knockout of Kevin Kelley in 1997 to retain the WBO featherweight title stands out, as does heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis’ second-round knockout of Michael Grant in 2000 stood out. Grant had gone into the bout 31-0 and had dominated his competition.
“Lennox came out and just took him apart in a real heavyweight massacre,” Buffer said.
While the excitement around a 2021 heavyweight championship unification bout between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua has picked up steam, Buffer isn’t ready to break it down just yet.
“[My] early predictions are I predict they both have to get through their next fights,” Buffer said.