From the Boxing Ring to ‘Dumbo’: Michael Buffer Is Still Ready to Rumble – Smart Media Magazine

From the Boxing Ring to ‘Dumbo’: Michael Buffer Is Still Ready to Rumble

Now, for the millions reading The New York Times around the world in print, on tablet or on a computer, ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to readdddd an interviewwww.

O.K., so maybe it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But it probably would have sounded better from Michael Buffer, the prolific ring announcer who, beginning in the 1980s, made the phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble!” a pop-culture staple. When the live-action version of “Dumbo” opened last weekend, viewers were treated to Buffer’s latest cameo. He doesn’t play himself, as he usually does. Instead, his character is actually given a name — Baritone Bates — and instead of his classic quote, he says, “Let’s get ready for Dumbo!” The Tim Burton-directed movie has been using the clip in advertisements.

Buffer, a 74-year-old Philadelphia native, has a lengthy film and television résumé, mostly in projects that involve fighting. He appeared in both “Creed” movies, as well as “Grudge Match,” “The Fighter” and last year’s critically panned “Holmes & Watson.” He has even had a role where he moved beyond simply announcing: the villain Walbridge in “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan.”

But Buffer is first and foremost a ring announcer, he said in a phone interview, with little ambition to go beyond that. It is his catchphrase, combined with an instantly recognizable deep baritone voice, that has allowed him to do so.

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How did the cameo in “Dumbo” come about?

Susie Figgis was the casting director, and we got a feeler from her to see if I was available. It sounded like something great and something that I’d love to do.

How many requests for cameos do you receive each day?

I don’t know if I receive requests on a daily basis. I’ll get two or three a year for movies. I’ve been in about 20 movies. Most times, I’m playing myself in films, like “Rocky” or “Creed.”

I know you’ve done weddings, bar mitzvahs and birthday parties. What are some of the more unusual requests you’ve received?

You just named a few of the unusual ones. It’s been a while since I’ve done a wedding or a bar mitzvah, but I have done quite a few of those. One time, a hedge fund gentleman in Connecticut brought in a bunch of professional wrestlers and myself at a very hefty price for his son’s 11th birthday.

Have you ever thought about trying out more acting?

One of my careers just before ring announcing was that I worked as a model. I did get a lot of requests for soap opera stuff and that sort of thing. I have to give it to actors, it’s a lot of work. I don’t think I could see myself getting up at 4 a.m. every day and going to makeup at a studio.

I read that you once recorded your signature phrase to help motivate the troops during the war in Iraq. Where does that rank in terms of unconventional gigs?

I’ve done quite a few gigs for the military. Some of them had to be kept under the wire. I’m a three year Army veteran myself, and I’m always available to do stuff like that. I’ve even done some things for the British military, too.

What percentage of your work is in the ring now?

It’s still my primary job. Now, I have an exclusive contract with DAZN and Matchroom Boxing. For the 37 years I appeared on HBO, I never had a contract with them. I was always an independent, working for the promoters.

When you developed “Let’s get ready to rumble” in the early 1980s, what were some of the other phrases you were thinking about?

It wasn’t that there were a lot that I was looking to try out. I was just looking for something that would get the fans’ attention. When I say attention, the primary purpose of sticking with “Let’s get ready to rumble” was when the fighters would come to the ring, it was exciting, and then ring announcers were introducing all their buddies on the boxing commission. It just killed the crowd. So I wanted a hook that would be comparable to, let’s say, “Gentleman, start your engines.” Everyone knows the race is about to begin. I tried “Man your battleships” and “Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.” They didn’t seem to have any pizazz.

Do you get tired of it?

Not when I wake up every morning at my house and look around at my garage and that sort of thing. I’m not tired of it at all.

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