Sometimes a pep talk is all it takes to get the juices to flow.

Especially when that speech comes from a legendary figure known the world over for his boxing prowess.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes recently visited with Anthracite Chapter Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association officials.

Nicknamed the Easton Assassin, Holmes, 61, told the officials that it's important for them to loosen up beforehand.

"Hard work ain't easy," Holmes said. "But, you want to feel good when you're running up and down the field."

Originally from Georgia, Holmes said his family moved to western PA in 1955.

"I was always athletically inclined," said Holmes, who dropped out of school in the seventh grade. "That's what got me into boxing."

Holmes, who boxed in the 1972 Olympic Trials, turned pro in 1973, and won a four-round decision against Rodell Dupree.

Early in his career, he served as a sparring partner for boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Earnie Shavers and Jimmy Young.

Holmes began to lay his claim to fame when he upset Shavers in March 1978, which set up a title shot between him and then WBC Heavyweight Champion Ken Norton on June 9, 1978 in Las Vegas, NV.

Three weeks before his scheduled fight against Norton, Holmes said he tore a muscle in his arm. But, he continued to train, and ultimately defeated Norton by split decision in the 15th round.

"When I become champion of the world, that changed my life," he said. "It just shows you can do anything you want to do if you work hard at it."

Holmes, who continues to reside in Easton, said he was involved in boxing for 37 years.

"I sacrificed; I wanted to be the world heavyweight champ," he said. "I studied everybody; I took advantage of what I could."

Prior to Holmes, the officials heard from Kerri Jahelka, founder of Dedicated Fitness in Palmerton.

Jahelka offered pointers on how they can better take care of their bodies.

"You can be physically conditioned and be skilled; but, you need both to be the best official you can be," Jahelka said. "If not, you're doing yourself a disservice, and the kids."

Jahelka said it's important to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol.

"I encourage you to take a diet, small steps and do a little at a time," she said. "You want your body to feel better not just the day of the event, but the days leading up to the event."