Winky Wright: Don’t Call Me Ronald

BY Rick Folstad ON April 13, 2005
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Steal his parking space, tease his dog or tell him he couldn’t punch his way out of a grocery bag. Call him a bum, let the air out of his tires or park your car in front of his house late at night and lean on the horn for awhile.

Just don’t call him Ronald, all right? He doesn’t like it. Not one bit. It riles him, puts him in a foul mood.

Destroys the moment.

Sure, Ronald is his real name, but if it doesn’t fit him, what are you going to do? Besides, some guys deserve respect. You call them what they want to be called. Mister. Sir. Your Highness.

Ronald Wright just wants to be called Winky.

Winky didn’t exactly raise his voice and clench his teeth Tuesday when someone called him Ronald. But he did sound a little like an exasperated math teacher trying to explain long division to a class of stooges.

“I like the name Winky,” he said on a conference call promoting his middleweight fight with Felix “Tito” Trinidad on May 14. “I don’t want to be called anything else.”

That’s good enough for me.

Winky said the nickname was a gift from his grandmother when he was still just a kid. He doesn‘t know why she picked the name “Winky” but he’s worn it proudly ever since.

“I love it,” he said. “And once people hear it, they never forget it. Being called ‘champ’ is cool too. But I just want to be called Winky.”

Of course, that’s when the guy on the other end of the line asking a question called him Ronald without thinking.

Whoops.

“I don’t want anyone to call me Ronald,” Winky quietly interrupted, driving the point home.

Nicknames and grandmothers aside, Winky (48-3, 25 KOs) will be moving up to middleweight next month when he fights Trinidad (42-1, 35 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO pay-per-view). For a guy who has spent most of his career fighting at junior middle (154 pound), Winky said he’s looking forward to bigger dinners as fight night approaches.

“I feel great,” he said from his training camp in Las Vegas. “And I don’t have to lose that extra six pounds.”

Neither does Trinidad, who slipped comfortably into the middleweight division years ago.

On paper, this fight belongs to the hard-hitting Trinidad, who is still the bigger name and the bigger draw. But Winky has made a career out of making fools out of the fight crowd, catchy nickname and all. He‘s the guy who hasn’t lost a fight in almost five years, the guy who was the undisputed junior middleweight champion of the world for awhile, or until he decided the real money was in a  fight with Trinidad.

“I don’t care how big you can punch, you’ve still got to be able to hit me,” he said, not letting out any big secrets about his plans or his style. “This fight is like two trains colliding, and we’re going to see which man is still standing. I think it’s going to be me.”

Wright’s trainer, Dan Birmingham, said they have a blueprint for beating Trinidad. He’s been watching a lot of tape of Trinidad’s previous fights.

“But we‘re not worried about what Trinidad is going to do,” Birmingham said. “We’re working on what Winky can do. We’re looking at Tito as just another fighter along the way, though I do respect Tito.”

Tito and Winky.

The Brown Bomber must be spinning in his grave.

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