Petros and Nikos Spanakos, twin brothers and professional boxers, remember growing up in Brooklyn.
NS: We were basically raised in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. When my childhood friends played cops and robbers there were real cops and real robbers.
PS: It was a rough neighborhood. And you gotta understand the ethos of Red Hook growing up. If you asked a kid, would you rather be president or world boxing champion, they’d all say world boxing champion.
N: We had to learn how to box out of necessity.
P: We were always small and were the only Greeks on the block so they would pick on us
N: In Red Hook they had at least 3 or 4 gyms and one night we went to the gym just to learn how to defend ourselves and we decided, hey, this is a sport that we can excel in.
P: I had a very auspicious debut, I lost my first four fights. But I stuck with it.
N: My first fight they put me in with the all city champion, a guy named Bobby Saint John. I think he was an Irish kid
N: He came in with boxing shoes and a fight robe and everything else and I came in with bathing trunks and a pair of sneakers. But I held him to a draw. For a 14 year old kid for his first time in the boxing ring it was an unforgettable moment.
P: You have to realize that going into the ring, climbing up those three steps is very intimidating and I always realized it was a mental game so I would, like, move my feet and look very confident, you know, sort of wink at the guy but inside I was very nervous.
N: This element of fear. You would think as years go on you would over come it and I never could. So people who say they’re not afraid, to me, they’re liars. The most you could do was to control it. But you never conquered it.