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A Conversation With Johnny Archer

With the upcoming Johnny Archer Classic only days away (October 12-14 at the Marietta Billiard Club in Marietta, GA) we felt it only fitting to touch base with this larger than life pool professional. Geoff Conway sat down with Johnny at the recent Turning Stone Classic.

Johnny Archer picked up his first cue when he was twelve years old. But his career really started when he turned professional only six years later. Since then his career has been a star-studded journey of some 26 years.

Johnny Archer was born November 12, 1968 in Waycross, Georgia. He grew up just down the road in Twin City alongside his two brothers and two sisters. By the time he was 22 Archer was a seasoned pro and had become one of the top 9 ball players in the world. In 1992 he laid testament to that when he won his first World 9 Ball title. When he defeated Bobby Hunter in the final it awoke the world to the power of this quiet warrior. He repeated this same feat in 1997 and by winning his second World 9 Ball title drove the stake deep into the voice of any who doubted him. He also was runner up for the World 9 Ball title in 1998.

In 1999 Johnny won the US Open. Over his career to date Johnny has won over 60 major titles and is no less a threat now than he was 20 years ago. As he told us: “When I started my pro career I never thought I would still be competing 26 years later, much less still competing for the top spot.

I believe my biggest achievement in pool is still being able to compete at a high level 26 years after I turned pro.”

When we asked Archer about the things that matter most to him he replied: “My life changed 180 degrees when I met Melanie. (His wife, married in 2002.)  I was lost and had no direction. God and Melanie are the reasons why I am where I am today both in life and in pool.”

“My two children Lee and LeeAnne have made my life whole. The hard decisions I make today are based solely around my family. Whatever is best for them.  My son Lee has been a BIG inspiration for me. He has battled medical problems his whole life, and he has never complained. I never realized how small my problems really were until I saw what he had to go through. I can fight all the hard players on tour as long as my family is there beside me.”

There is more to Mr. Archer than the playing champion we all know. He is also a business owner. “I bought a pool room with Kim Davenport (Marietta Billiards in Marietta, GA) because I wanted to leave something big behind me one day. I will leave it to my children to carry it on. Business-wise the stars happened to align at the right time for me.”

We wondered aloud what advice he would have for the young players of today that will be the stars of the game in the future. He told us: “My advice to any young player is to never give up on your dream. Get all the negative people out of your life. Keep your eyes on the target and never waiver from that. You will no doubt have to take different roads than you imagined, but there is always a road that leads to the finish line. Age is only a number. You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it!”

And what does the future hold for this legend? “I would like to play for another ten years, health permitting. I expect that one day I will wake up and feel that I can't win any more tournaments. I guess at that moment I will just ride off into the sunset.” (A smile creeping across his face.)

His illustrious career has garnished him many accolades: BilliardDigest awarded him the “Player of the Decade” at the end of the nineties. In 2009 Johnny was inducted into the “BCA Hall of Fame” at the age of 41.  And his wins are legendary. What title has he not lifted at some time? He has been World Champion, U.S. Open Champion, and champion of most every other event that has been held on U.S. soil.

Johnny who has been a fixture on the USA Team for the Mosconi Cup since 1997, has played 15 consecutive years to 2011. He is yet again in the running to be picked again but needs a good finish in the US Open in October in Virginia Beach, VA.

When asked what he would like to finish with Archer said: “I want to say thank you to some people for helping me along the way. My father for giving me wisdom. My brothers and sisters and step-mom for taking care of me. Art Wiggins for being a great friend and keeping me out of trouble on the business side of things. Chester Flynt for being a great mentor to me. My kids Lee and LeeAnne who are my inspiration. My wife Melanie is my best friend who I want beside me should I have to go into battle with anyone or anything. Thank you so much for being there for me. I love you so much. Last but not least, thank you to God. I would not have anything without Him leading me to it.