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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Mystery man in Charleston

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
08 Mar 2019

When my wife Menchu and I visited Charleston in South Carolina a few days ago, I never expected to be greeted by a former boxer upon arriving late evening to check in at our hotel.

Just by looking at him, I knew he was a boxer. He was squat, had a bent nose and looked like he’d survived some tough scrapes. At first, he didn’t admit it, deflecting my questions on whether or not he had once boxed. Maybe, he was trained not to talk about himself. He worked the graveyard shift in the valet service and doubled as a bellhop. His job was to help guests with their luggage or take their cars to the parking lot. It wasn’t as if he was unfriendly. At 11 p.m., his focus was to do the work expected of him, not get familiar with guests.

He brought up our bags to our hotel room. Then, he opened up a little, admitting he was once a pro boxer. I asked if I could interview him and he said he should be free to talk at around midnight at the lobby.

I went down to the lobby and sought him out. He gave me his name and asked if I could keep it a secret. Out of respect, I will not identify him in this story. But I later found out he was once a world superflyweight champion recognized by an obscure organization called the International Boxing Association or IBA.

He’s now 39 and he’s lived in the US for 10 years. He couldn’t recall if he ever fought a Filipino as an amateur or pro but said he has the highest respects for Filipino fighters, particularly WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao and WBA bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire, Jr.

He’s a big Donaire fan. “I think Donaire’s a monster,” he said. “I admire him the most because I used to fight in his weight class. I’m also a fan of Pacquiao. I’m amazed that he’s still fighting at his age. He has nothing left to prove, he has all the money in the world. From minimumweight to welterweight, there are great Filipino fighters. It doesn’t matter if there are no Filipino heavyweights. Filipino fighters are recognized among the best in the world.”

He said before moving to Charleston, he lived in Michigan with his family. He said he knows Cuban trainer Pedro Diaz who has trained former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux. His pro boxing career went from 2001 to 2009 and featured fights in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Thailand and the US.

His last fight was his US debut in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2009. He said he lost a decision to an underdog and suffered a broken left eye socket in the process. Before that, he had won five in a row. In 2006, he won the IBA superflyweight title on points over a Russian who was dropped four times.

“The hardest decision for a fighter is when to retire,” he said. “After I had my eye injury, I retired at the age of 29. I tried to come back twice, once when I was 36. But in the gym, I felt pain in my shoulder, then my arm and my leg. So I stopped. I tried again later but the pain came back. That was it.”

He said he hopes AIBA president Gafur Rahimov of Uzbekistan cleans up amateur boxing and brings it back to a high level of respect. He said boxing should remain in the Olympic calendar but must keep the “corrupt politicians” out of the sport.

Twice a week, he works in a hotel at Charleston. A hotel clerk said he probably works in other buildings for the valet company. But he mentioned he was involved in training kids in MMA when he’s not at work.

It’s gratifying to see how a man, who was once a world boxing champion, never mind if he was only recognized by an obscure group, takes pride in working hard in his job for his family and future. I asked some hotel employees about him and they were surprised to find out he was a former boxer. He never wanted to call attention to himself and preferred to do his work quietly. They all had kind words for him, praising his work ethic. The humble, dedicated man is quite an inspiration.


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