"You can’t cook with cold grease” means that one should (usually proverbially) turn up the heat, or make things more intense. The Chicago (IL) Tribune cited in 1982:
“Aaron Pryor, the World Boxing Association World junior welterweight champ, on why he warms up to disco music before a bout: ‘I’m crazy, but then you don’t cook with cold grease.’”
The expression has been used by boxers Larry Holmes (in 1988) and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (in 2011 and 2013), and by boxing promoter Don King (2001). Jesse Jackson said “you can’t cook with cold grease” in 1986, but the expression has not been found in cookbooks.
Wikipedia: Aaron Pryor
Aaron Pryor (born October 20, 1955) is a former boxer from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was World Junior Welterweight Champion from 1980 to 1985 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996. Pryor was voted by the Associated Press as the #1 junior welterweight of the 20th century in 1999.
Chicago (IL) Tribune
22 October 1982, Chicago (IL) Tribune, sec. 4, pg. 7, col. 4:
Aaron Pryor, the World Boxing Association World junior welterweight champ, on why he warms up to disco music before a bout: “I’m crazy, but then you don’t cook with cold grease.”
24 November 1983, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Cavs win, end losing streak at 7” by Elton Alexander, pg. 15-C, col. 1:
“It just feels good to play a good game and win,” (Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Cliff—ed.) Robinson said. “You just can’t cook with cold grease. Now we have to start building something.”
18 February 1985, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “Kent State’s Jefferson keeps breezing along” by Bill Livingston, pg. 7-C, col. 6:
As boxer Aaron Pryor, who warms up at exhaustive length before entering the ring, would say, “You don’t cook with cold grease.”
Google News Archive
21 November 1986, The Daily Item (Sumter, SC), “Jackson calls for new ‘focus’” (AP), pg. 7B, col. 1:
“When the heat is turned up, tensions rise, sometimes tempers flare, but you can’t cook with cold grease. You’ve got to turn up the heat.”
(Spoken by Jesse Jackson.—ed.)
Braman Gets Brusque In Briefing On Buddy
By Stan Hochman, Daily News Sports Columnist
POSTED: December 19, 1988
IRVING, Texas — Yo, Norman Braman, how about ending all that contrived suspense about your 1989 coach now that Buddy Ryan’s Eagles have finished 10-6 and won a division championship in his third year?
Perhaps Braman was just using tactics he has learned from Ryan, keeping the griddle hot because you can’t cook with cold grease.
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA)
Hey, Santa, You Didn’t Forget Us?
December 25, 1988 | by JOHN KUNDA, The Morning Call
LARRY HOLMES - Some kind of citation for coming up with boxing’s quote of the year - “you can’t cook with cold grease” - a few days before he fought Mike Tyson. Unfortunately for Holmes, he was the one who was cooked.
The Good, the Bad, and the Famous
By Len Sherman
New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group
“You want to be a leader? If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. You can’t cook with cold grease. You’ve got to stand up to be a leader.”
(Spoken by Jesse Jackson.—ed.)
Los Angeles (CA) Times
If You Listen to King, You Haven’t Learned
December 16, 2001 | JEFF JACOBS | HARTFORD COURANT
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. — He isn’t a boxing promoter. He is the tour director of Madame Tussaud’s. Wax is real life in Don King’s world, and real life is just another wax job. History is a museum for his freakish metaphors, and pop culture figures are merely a figure of speech for his unrelenting pitch.
In stretching his point that Ruiz-Holyfield III is a defining moment in his life, the combatants’ lives and in the life of American sport, King somehow connected the dots of history from Sherlock Holmes to George Armstrong Custer, Demosthenes, Hannibal, Rodney Dangerfield, Aretha Franklin, Vince Lombardi, Iago, Tony Blair, Moses, the O’Jays and Dracula.
“Woohoo!” King shouted at one contentious point during the press conference to promote this WBA heavyweight title bout. “You can’t cook with cold grease. You got to turn the stove on.”
Cotto can’t cook with cold grease in Pacquiao fight
By Michael Marley
October 15, 2009 6:49 PM MST
Larry Holmes liked to say “you can’t cook with cold grease.” With that in mind, I’m sticking with Megamanny and Chef Freddie because they not only serve up a sizzling steak, they slather it with comeback sauce that leaves you wanting more.
Originally Posted: September 19, 2011
As he prepares to return to the ring, against Victor Ortiz, Floyd Mayweather Jr. faces a family feud, felony charges, multiple lawsuits and the unthinkable possibility of defeat
BY CHRIS MANNIX
Whenever the cameras are on, so is Mayweather. A public workout is a performance, the ring a stage. “Turn the air off,” Mayweather barks at a member of his team. “You can’t cook with cold grease.” The gym heats up, and so does Mayweather.
Think Larry Holmes said it best when he said, “You can’t cook with cold grease!” #LarryHolmes #Boxing
9:28 AM - 1 Aug 2013
The last great American prizefighter
Floyd Mayweather still spends big and draws big. But for how much longer?
Originally Published: September 4, 2013
By Tim Keown | ESPN The Magazine
But right now, Floyd has more immediate concerns: He is cold. Mayweather’s preference for heat is famous among his crew; the gym in Vegas is always warmer inside than out, regardless of season. He asks the flight attendant to bump up the heat and says, “You can’t cook with cold grease, baby.”
Boston (MA) Herald
Borges: Tuukka Rask just rolls with punches
Bruins’ anemic offense keeps pressure on overworked goalie
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
By: Ron Borges
The situation reminded you of boxing promoter Don King’s old saying when his fighter simply hadn’t been offensive enough to win: “You can’t cook with cold grease, y’all,’’ King would bellow, his hair standing at attention as he spoke.