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Tragedy, Redemption, and the Potential Future of the Heavyweight Division: American Heavyweight Rashad Minor Speaks to RSR

Interview by Geno McGahee

“I don’t really like to boast too much but I would like to say that I’m going to give this heavyweight class a problem.” –Rashad Minor

The United States has had a strangle hold of the heavyweight title forever it seems and now that it has been several years since we can claim that distinction, we have been feverishly looking for the one to come and take it back. Lamon Brewster and Tony Thompson seemed to have the tools to do just that but have since fallen by the wayside and with Nikolay Valuev, Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, Sam Peter, and David Haye near the top of the heap, the American heavies seem to be fading away, but there is a very interesting one on the horizon.

Rashad “Hit’em Hard” Minor, 1-0, 1 KO, obviously doesn’t have the professional experience to jump right into a title fight, but he has several things going in his favor and making him a man to watch in months to come. He was a acclaimed amateur, winning the 1993-1994 National Junior Olympic Championship, and drawing comparisons to Muhammad Ali with his hand speed and natural ability. He would abandon the sport and succeed at Basketball, showing his versatility as an athlete, but he has returned home to pugilism and may be coming along at just the right time.

After some bad decisions and some time in State prison, Minor has emerged and found Trainer Sean “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is well known in Massachusetts and had a very successful career in boxing himself, retiring with a record of, 29-2-2, 11 KO’s, and may be best known for his near victory over legendary Roberto Duran before running out of gas and collapsing from a body blow. Fitzy shifted his focus to training, opened a gym “Camp Fitzy’s” and is now trying to guide young fighters in the area in the right direction and protect them from the corruption in boxing. Fitzy is one of the good guys in boxing and the meeting between he and Minor is a match made for success. Out of Fitzy’s stable, Minor’s got a major chance to stand out.

On September 6, 2008, Minor made his professional debut with a 38 second stoppage of Joel Eduardo Jaquez-Colon at the Roxy in Boston, Massachusetts. He will be fighting in the very near future and plans to keep up a busy schedule, focus on boxing and his family and he has the personality to win fans over and outgrow the boxing city of Worcester and become a sensation nationally.

I had the opportunity to sit down with the hopeful heavyweight and bring RSR a man on the rise. Ladies and Gentlemen, RSR presents Rashad “Hit’em Hard” Minor…

GM: You won your pro debut in 38 seconds. Was it your intention to go in there and just make an impression to the boxing world?

The day before, when we were at the weigh in, he kind of said a couple of sweet things if you know what I mean. I can be very gentleman like and I can be really, really rude, and that’s how I carried myself my entire life. I just came out of state prison, so it’s not like I was around a bunch of nice guys and I couldn’t be nice all the time, you know. This guy came out and he said a couple of things that I didn’t like, so I said, you know what I’m just going to go in there and take it to him. I wanted to make an impression on my fans…a couple of them were pissed off because they came all the way from Worcester to Boston for just 38 seconds.

I did more work hitting the mitts then I did in the ring. Something just came over me. I hadn’t been in the ring for a long time and I have never been in the ring with no headgear on and shirt off, so it was like my animal instinct kicked. I felt like an animal. It’s probably not a good thing to say, but I did.

GM: The stuff he was saying…was it in relation to your time in prison?

No, he was saying something when I got on the scale. When I got on the scale, I heard a commissioner or one of those guys say: “That’s a heavyweight.” And he said something to the effect that it didn’t matter the size, it’s the heart, and he then said: “Did you hear that?!” He said it really tough…you know what I mean? We’re fighters, so automatically my instinct went up and I said: “We’ll see if you have one tomorrow” or something like that.

GM: Now did you know anything about this guy before you fought him? Did he have any amateur experience or any other fighting experience that would make him this confident that you knew of?

I really didn’t know too much about him. It was weird. I had been out for six weeks…training for five. So I felt good and I decided just to take it right to him. I should have relaxed and boxed and see where he was at, but once I touched him once…I saw that jab touch him, I could just see that look in his eyes and just knew that I had to get him out of there.

GM: You are fighting in a couple of weeks. How is training going for that and do you have an opponent lined up yet?

I don’t know who my opponent is going to be but I feel bad for him. I don’t mean to talk junk about him, but today Fitzy gave me some leeway and picked me up at 9 AM instead of 6 AM, and the training is extensive. I feel like a whole new person. I have been in the game for a long time but I have never felt this hungry before. I can actually taste it.

GM: Are you planning on keeping this schedule that seemed to work for the Mike Tysons and George Foremans of the world, where you box once or twice a month and keep busy?

That is my plan…to build it up. I guess that we are going to be going independent for a little while and we are going to talk with a couple of managers actually and see if we can get one that can manage my career and to back me because that helps (laughs). Hopefully we will get a promoter soon once I build up this record, but I don’t want to be fighting dudes that are not fighting back. Hopefully as it goes on, we get better opponents.

GM: Do you think that it’s an edge for you having Fitzy in your corner because he was a fighter and dealt with the nonsense outside of the ring that you will encounter and perhaps he can counter that and get around it and sort of look out after you which is something that didn’t happen in his career to a large degree?

It’s like this. I’m sure that you are familiar with Jose Antonio Rivera and Rocky Gonzalez, Sean Fitzgerald, Bobby Harris…we are all brothers. We all come from our father, Carlos Garcia. So when I get a contract, and just because Jose is not training me or Rocky is not training me, I can call any one of those guys at any given time like me and you are talking right now and ask them because we are brothers. We don’t take things personally. They are looking out for my best interest.

As far as Sean, he’s had a couple hard moments over the fight years…he’s been on both sides, the winning side and the losing side and I put my life in his hands because he’s not going to allow me to get hurt. He won’t allow me to dive in head first into an empty swimming pool.

GM: You were 291 for your pro debut. I’m assuming that this is not your ideal weight. Are you going to be gradually coming down and if so, what is your ideal weight in your opinion?

I’m like 278…280 right now because we’ve turned it up a lot, especially with the running and the rounds inside the gym. My ideal weight would be 260. At 260, I will be really unbelievable. I think I’m unbelievable now (laughs). I’m also my worst critic. I’ve seen that youtube fight and I do not like that…where the extra weight is and I have to get this weight off but they tell me to relax and that it’s going to come. I just keep running and keeping myself in shape. I’m 280 right now and I have stepped it up to five miles in the morning of running. So, I’m feeling really good and that’s sort of going against scientific facts.

GM: A lot of fighters have fought at a heavier weight and have been effective and have been in shape, despite what the scale says and what the critics believed.

Exactly. It’s a little tougher though when you have the extra weight. I have a little excess that I have to get off and I think that it will help out a lot.

GM: Style-wise, what boxer do you compare yourself to?

When I was an amateur, I always said Muhammad Ali. They would tell me that my movement for a heavyweight was unbelievable, but now, because my jab is so powerful and quick, I have to say Larry Holmes. Holmes had the best jab of all time. When I would fire the jab off, I would see him, and then with the size of a young George Foreman…there’s a bunch of ways that I can go with it.

GM: Why don’t you think American heavyweights aren’t ruling the division as they have in the past?

It seems like the guys from overseas are hungrier. They are the ones that are taking all of the belts and I don’t see any American heavyweights that really want it like that, outside of myself. It is kind of unbelievable not to see an American with the heavyweight title. The division has been owned by American heavyweights back in the day. It’s tricky. It’s a tricky question. It’s hard to answer. Those guys are hungrier and they are huge!

GM: Absolutely. You have Nikolay Valuev who is seven feet tall and the Klitschko brothers who are also in that range.

Yeah, John Ruiz just lost to Valuev.

GM: He did but I’m hearing mixed results. It seems that Ruiz gets screwed over a great deal and in Germany, there is a lot of talk about unfair treatment of American fighters.

John Ruiz makes everybody look bad. I don’t care what anybody says. This guy had eleven title fights. He is no bum being in eleven title fights. He won like three or four of them.

GM: And he beat Hasim Rahman, Kirk Johnson, and Golota…

He beat Evander Holyfield…come on! This guy is good. John Ruiz is the real deal. I’ve always watched him when I was young and this was maybe in 1996 and he fought Jeremy Williams in the amateurs at light heavyweight, I think. I was there to see that and I remember him then and when I saw him as a pro, I thought: “Wow this guy is good.” He does everything by the books. He buried his head in his shoulder, jabbed, buried his chin in his chest…everything is so textbook but he makes everybody look bad.

GM: I also think that he gets a lot of negative press unfairly. It is sad that he is a 2-Time Heavyweight Champion and everyone trashes him but they remain on the Hasim Rahman bandwagon, a man that he clearly beat.

I don’t understand that at all.

GM: Do you know the location of your next fight? Where is it going to be held?

Well, they’re talking about another Cappiello Brothers card, if not in Boston then in Worcester, my hometown and that would be nice to bring it back to my hometown fans. I was shocked in Boston that two hundred plus came to the fight from Worcester and showed me the love and I wasn’t even the main event.

GM: Worcester has always been great for boxing. When Jose Antonio Rivera would fight, they would pack into the DCU Center to support him.

I went to his one fight when he fought Luis Collazo and when Jose came out and I saw the crowd, it was unbelievable! I couldn’t believe it. He brought everybody out!

GM: And you have to wonder why that wasn’t the main event instead of Jean Marc Mormeck versus Wayne Braithwaite.

Why would they do that? It didn’t make any sense. That’s one thing about Worcester though. That’s one thing that we do. In a way we are like Brooklyn. Whenever they have a fighter or anything that they have that’s a star or anything like that, they come out and support.

I looked around after the fight and congratulated so many people and now they are coming and congratulating me. As I looked around I brought four or five different rivalries together. They were in there…I’m not going to say gangs or whatever, but rivalries. I could not believe that I brought this many people together like this. Maybe I’m the next Obama or something like that (laughs). It was a real blessing and when I got to the ring and heard the crowd, I was in awe. It turned me into another person…like I had an alter ego, as if I was on the outside looking in at myself. It was just the weirdest feeling.

GM: And you have something very marketable going on. You are a heavy handed heavyweight from Worcester. If you continue to knock people out, they may have to build a new stadium to fit the people. With the retirement of Rivera, Worcester is looking for the next big thing.

The definition of a Worcester boy is me. I grew up in the Boy’s Club, I went to college at Becker, I went to North High School, I got into a little trouble, but I cleaned up my image. I’m a Boy’s Club kid. I’m trying to get it right. I don’t want to be looked at and for people to say that: “He went to Becker and the Boy’s Club and North High School, but he also sold drugs.” I don’t want that to be the end of my story.

GM: Boxing has provided a platform for redemption for many and everyone does stupid things when they are young. This is going to be your second chapter of life here but you are still going to have people focus on the negative and your misdeeds in the past. Is that going to hurt you mentally?

It’s like I told my wife. We sat down and talked about it because we got sort of ridiculed and I should have because it was my fault. I did it. I did my time and there is nothing else I can say about it, but all publicity is good publicity, especially in the sport that I’m in. Look at Mike Tyson. He was accused and did time for rape, and he is still one of the most popular people ever.

GM: When he came out of prison for rape, he became bigger than ever.

And it wasn’t all positive. It’s just unbelievable.

GM: You have also excelled in basketball. Do you find that experience and the training that you had in that sport beneficial in any way to your boxing?

When we were younger, I never really trained. I never really put any thought into training. The first time that I trained was when I was on the US Junior Olympic Team and I think that it kind of scared me away. The training was unbelievable. You wake up in the morning and run a mile and a half just to get there to the track to run six miles. I came back in the best shape of my life. When we fought against Ireland and Canada, I ended up fighting some kid from Canada named Adam Coppola or something like that and I made this kid look so bad. The training is unreal. There wasn’t a time in the day that you could kick back and relax.

When it came to basketball, I just did what I wanted. I just went on the court and was dunking on people and this is Junior College Basketball. It was just a natural ability and all of my older cousins played basketball. My cousin was an All American. He played for the University of North Carolina. He was unbelievable as a basketball player. He was 6’10” and that’s my background. My Uncle was a boxer and he got killed in 1979 and he was a great boxer. It all stems from the Boy’s Club. You play basketball and you box.

GM: Why did you choose boxing over basketball?

In 2004, I came up with the assumption that basketball isn’t going to make it because there are only so many people that make in the sport. I knew that boxing was my avenue, plus I love to fight. I have always been a fighter since day one and anyone in my family will definitely tell you that since I was four or five years old. It just came natural.

GM: Do you have anything to say in closing…whatever you want to say.

Whatever I want to say? Be careful because “Hit’em Hard” is coming. I don’t really like to boast too much but I would like to say that I’m going to give this heavyweight class a problem. I’m going to give them a real problem and tell them that here it comes. I also would like to thank all the people that supported me when I was down and out…my wife, my kids, my family. I don’t really want to get too deep and have you write a book. I do have a RIP that I want to do my brother. I have been going through his trial for the last two and a half weeks. He was murdered in 2006 in August.

GM: I’m sorry to hear that.

Thanks…it’s the way that life is man…you know what I mean? I just want to give him a rest in peace and my little cousin who drowned when he was five years old last summer. The tragedy is there, so it’s even a bigger push. And I hope that I can be the American Heavyweight Champion.

Rashad Minor
Division: Heavyweight
Professional Record: 1-0, 1 KO

Date Opponent W-L-D Location Result

2008-09-06 Joel Eduardo Jaquez-Colon 0-0-0 Boston, USA W TKO 1

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