Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Keith Thurman Interview

Keith Thurman is a man on a mission. On a mission to prove that he’s the best amateur welterweight in the nation. On a mission to prove he deserves to represent his country at the 2008 Olympics. Just speaking with him I can hear the conviction in his voice. He’s carrying his gym, his coach, and possibly all of St. Petersburg on his back and he’s not going to let anything get in his way for his date with destiny. Not Charles Hatley, not Demetrius Andrade and certainly not Tropical Storm Erin. Keith Thurman is coming Houston and he’s bringing his right hand and unconquerable spirit.

Just earlier today Keith and Coach Getty were stranded at the hotel as Erin raked across Houston. All amped up, and no place to go. But judging by his disposition this is just a tiny blip on a trip that he could only sum up as “incredible” mentioning as well the “great gym and great sparring.” In what is likely his last tournament as an amateur the kid is enjoying the ride.

For those of you that don’t know him Keith trains at St. Pete Boxing under Ben Getty. The heavy-handed righty has already made the rounds touching gloves with guys like Jeff Lacy, Winky Wright, Antwun Nichols and up and comer Francisco Bojado. In company like that there is knowledge to be gleaned from every punch.

The young boxer has been so dedicated to his craft, and you can hear it when you speak to him, that he had to shelf school to focus on his dream. A dream he’s been pursuing since he started training at seven years old.

Inevitably some people will read that and shake their heads disapprovingly but who doesn’t look back on missed opportunities once they reach middle age? Why not put everything you have into achieving that which you want most? You can’t argue with the results he’s getting.

He sums it up himself best, “This is what I do.”

I mentioned earlier the conviction in his voice but what I left out was the humility. Not manufactured but pure humility that only someone laying their heart and soul on the line can truly achieve. This is why Ben Getty speaks about his pupil with such warmth and confidence, I’m sure. And Getty has been around, working with guys like Olympian Ken Gould and Sugar Ray Leonard.

When asked what fight he was most looking forward to in Houston it wasn’t Boyd Melson who beat him earlier this year in what he calls his toughest loss, a fight in which Melson managed to tie the fight late and eke out a victory in the overtime session. No petty grudges here. Thurman has his eye on the prize, he wants Charles Hatley; the number one prospect at welterweight who Keith says is “just an all-around strong fighter.” He speaks of his previous fight with the young boxer from Dallas in reverent tones saying how it was a war they both fought their hearts out in and it was just a great fight to be involved with.

In this day of spoiled professional athletes it is the amateurs that remind us of why we love sports. Listening to him talk I couldn’t help mentioning the knowledge he displays about his craft and again Thurman’s humility shines through in his response.

“Bottom line you just got to hit the other guy more than he hits you.”

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