Maurice Watkins (born August 29, 1956) is a former boxer from Houston, Texas. Nicknamed Termite, he was born into a family that was in the insect killing business, and he is a professional fumigator.
He turned professional as a boxer on May 21, 1974, beating Cesar Cortez by knockout in round one at Houston. Through his career, Watkins fought some of the best fighters in the Lightweight and Jr. Welterweight divisions. He beat Marion Thomas by a knockout in round seven, Rocky Ramon by a decision in twelve, Arturo Leon by decision in ten, Bruce Strauss by knockout in three, and others. His fight with former United States Lightweight champion Norman Goins resulted in a three round no contest. He also lost to Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr.. and Alfredo Escalera. On October 2 of 1980, at the Caesar's Palace hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, he got his only world title shot, losing to Saoul Mamby by a fifteen round decision for the WBC's world Jr. Welterweight title. He retired with 59 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws (tie), one no contest and 40 wins by knockout.
After retiring, Watkins went back to Texas to work as a fumigator. He remained in obscurity there for many years.
In 2003, the American military, needing personnel to work rebuilding Iraq's infraestructure, contracted him as a fumigator to work on Iraqi homes that had been decaying and infected with insects during Saddam Hussein's presidency. The military did not know of Watkins' background as a boxer.
After the IOC announced that Iraq would be allowed to compete in seven sports at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, including boxing, the United States military, overviewing the new Iraqi Olympic committee, set about to find a new boxing coach for the Iraqi national boxing team. With research, they found out about Watkins' background, and invited him to coach a team of young hopefuls in Baghdad. When Watkins arrived there, he saw what he described to a Sports Illustrated columnist as not too much talent, but a lot of heart.
Realizing he needed to train the team in a setting different to Baghdad, he moved his team to a city close to Baghdad, but much more quieter than the capital city. He is currently training nine Iraqi boxers who hope to reach the Olympics.
During the training period of these young prospects, he invented a phrase that has become widely popular in Iraq: Every morning, after arrival to the gym, he would chant Iraq! Iraq! Iraq is back! to help inspire his boxers. The phrase has become so popular in Iraq that the United States military has ordered 1,000 t-shirts to be printed with the phrase, to be handled among Iraqi citizens.