New Castle native and legendary boxing champion Dave Tiberi is a fixture across the Delaware business, civic, non-profit, media and sports scenes. The founder of TNT Video, Dave and his wife Angela recently formed Emergency Response Protocol, a company that uses digital technology to help first responders gather critical location-based information before responding to an emergency. Dave also continues to remain involved in boxing, and recently created a new program for professionals called the Dave Tiberi Boot Camp.
TSD: You are everywhere. Between your businesses, your continued involvement in boxing, chairing non-profits and raising a family, you must be so busy. What is your day like?
DT: Boy, my day! Early in the morning, before I start my workday, I train state leaders and corporate executives in groups of 8 to 10, and it’s called Dave Tiberi’s Boot Camp. So that keeps me in shape. On the personal side, it’s exciting, but my most important thing is my three daughters. My top priority is with my wife and daughters, so in the evenings I do my best with my schedule to make sure that time is with them.
TSD: What does the boot camp focus on? Is it more about boxing or self defense?
DT: It’s actually addictive. For 12 weeks, it’s a whole group of either government leaders or executives, because their schedules are so stressful and all. In those 12 weeks they actually live the intense life of a professional boxer. They come to the gym, we teach them how to wrap their hands and they go into the ring. While we’re teaching the skills, we’re working on their cardio. We teach them how to hit everything. Within the first few workouts, they’re really picking everything up.
So that’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a lot of fun for me, it gives me an outlet to connect with the men and the women who are our state leaders, business leaders, because it’s a stress reliever for them. My number one rule in the gym is: you are not allowed to come into the gym and talk business. The whole idea is to get you loose, get your mind off your executive position at the bank.
TSD: Aside from the boot camp, you and your wife also have a fairly new company. What does Emergency Response Protocol do?
DT: Well, let me give you a little background. In 1993, I was brought in to develop a defensive tactics program for the Delaware State Police and municipalities, and so I worked for many, many years at the Police Academy down in Dover. I meet with the police, I train all the new recruits that come into the academy. While I was doing that, my full-time living was in the video and multimedia business. About seven years ago, I was meeting with some state leadership and pubic safety, and they asked me what I do for a living, and I told them what my business is. The concerns that responders have when they arrive to a property were brought up—not knowing the make-up of the property. So that’s how Emergency Response Protocol was created, with that need.
It’s a web-based application software, so the firefighters, police, bomb squads would have access to that property that we map. It would show them access to live cameras, what HAZMATs are on that property, it would show them panoramic access to rooms, it would show them measurements, it would show them which way hinges of doors turn. It’s very comprehensive, so that way it would speed up reaction time when they get there.
TSD: Getting back to the sport of boxing, so many people see it as a violent sport. How do you develop aggression in a person who isn’t naturally be inclined to be a fighter?
DT: It sounds like an oxymoron, but the majority of boxers that you will meet are the most pleasant kind of people because they’re so well disciplined. When people meet me, they say, “You don’t seem like a boxer,” and I say, “Well, what does a boxer seem like?” And I’ve fought for two world titles. A lot of times, with people’s perceptions of boxers, they think of one person, two people, like Mike Tyson—he’s angry, this and that.
People think you’ve got to be really intense, and “I’ve got to hate that other person to do what I do,” but you’ll hear people that follow boxing say, “Wow, that guy or that woman knows the sweet science.” And the sweet science basically is knowing the art of boxing—not losing your head, staying comfortable, staying relaxed, finding a way to win. To do that, you’ve got to be loose and flexible.
TSD: In your 1992 fight against James Toney, you were famously robbed of a victory that would have made you the world champion. The fight also led to an investigation by the U.S. Senate of corruption in professional boxing. You received enormous media attention during what must have been one of the hardest times in your life. How did you get through it?
DT: When I spoke on the Senate floor, I was humbled but I was honored to play a part in getting the first ever boxing bill passed, which is called the Ali Bill and addresses health and safety and rules in the sport of boxing. I do reflect on the fight sometimes, because I turned down over $1 million to fight the rematch, which was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my life because of my family, and I had young kids. I was walking away from my career, basically, taking a stance on the injustices.
The things that I’ve been able to do, specifically because of the controversy, have really made a difference in other people’s lives. I really believe the Lord put that fight in my life as the most controversial fight in boxing history because I was going to be the person he was going to use to make a difference, not only in the sport but in the community I serve in and I live in.
TSD: What are some reforms that have come about as a result of the Senate’s investigation?
DT: Boxing is a very wealthy sport, but it does not have a national commission, and there’s one of the major issues. If a boxer is fighting in Pennsylvania, which has a stronger commission, and the promoters decide they don’t want to do that because the rules are too tough, they’ll go down south to West Virginia or Kentucky to have a weaker commission. Now, what they’ve started doing is if your state doesn’t have a commission—Delaware doesn’t have a commission—a neighboring state has to pick your state up, so at least every state starts having some rules. There’s a lot more to do, yes, but the Ali Bill took the first step, most importantly to address the health and safety of the fighters.
Most fighters that enter a boxing ring have no health insurance. Many fighters that end their careers have no pension plans; they end up as paupers, they end up on the street, homeless, many with drug problems, many with alcohol problems. The numbers are astounding. I really believe to solidify what we’ve done in the sport of boxing, we need a national commission, just like baseball, just like football, NASCAR. These organizations have done well just because there’s a unifying body that everybody has to report to.
TSD: Who are some of your favorite boxers right now?
DT: Well, of course my friend Bernard Hopkins. He just beat George Foreman out as the oldest person to ever win a title, at 46. Manny Pacquiao is a big hit right now in the sport of boxing. He’s very charismatic, he gets in there, he finds ways to win. He’s fun to watch. You know what I like about him? I don’t just look at the fighter in the ring. Manny Pacquiao is also a congressman in the Philippines. He’s not only a model inside the ring, he’s also a role model outside the ring. That’s what I look for in a fighter.
TSD: Speaking of congressman, would you ever consider running for office?
DT: I’ve always had a passion for politics, and the more I see, I just feel like not enough good people are stepping out and stepping up. And I think that would drive me more than anything else, because I really believe in anything I do, if I have a passion, I can make a difference. I have a commitment to my family right now. It’s probably in my blood right now and I think I would someday in the future, but my top priority right now is to continue to establish this business.
TSD: As a Delaware native, you must have a favorite pizza place down at the beach. Which do you like better, Grotto Pizza or Nicola Pizza?
DT: I have to tell you, that’s a tough question for Dave Tiberi. I’m friends with both owners. I’m going to call that a tie. They’re two of my favorites. When I go to the beach, those are two of my favorite hangouts. Don’t be surprised when you walk down the aisle and you’re going to see Dave Tiberi sitting in the corner at Grotto’s or Nicola’s.