Rashad Holloway: Cincinnati's Most Talented Prospect Talks Fight Game, Future, and Antonio Margarito
By Vivek Wallace: When the city of Cincinnati comes to mind, most around the country immediately think of the Bengals or the Reds. For those who have personal roots to the city, they may identify it as the birthplace of the enigmatic Jerry Springer, the bodacious Carmen Electra, or perhaps comedian Katt Williams. When conversation about the city percolates to the fight game, generally two names come to mind; One of the greatest jr. welterweights of all time, Aaron Pryor, or one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, Ezzard Charles.
Article posted on 11.08.2008
Eager to change that, Cincinnati's newest 'Lord of the Ring' has gradually elevated his status in the sport with hopes of ultimately placing himself on that very same mantle. After spending many years near the same gym once entertained by the great Aaron Pryor, also within a shot of fellow Cincinnatian Tony "TNT" Tubbs, finally, Holloway has emerged from the shadows and effectively stepped into the spotlight himself. Talk around the fight game that started as a single whisper-in-the-dark has increasingly strengthened to a near deafening tone.
Most have taken note, few have not, but in his own words "those who haven't heard about him will soon enough". I had the opportunity to chat with Rashad about not only his life and future in the sport, but also the life he plans to lead once his legacy is sealed. In what turned out to be a very intriguing 20 minutes, here's what the talented Rashad Holloway (8-1, 4KO's) had to say:
VW: Rashad, for those fight fans out there who may not know a whole lot about you at this early stage in your career, tell us how you got started and who were some of your earlier influences?
RH: Well, I wasn't a bad kid, I was an average kid, typical street fights or whatever, and my Father took me to the gym for the first time when I was 11 years old and I fell in love with it. As far as influences go, Sugar Ray Leonard was my main influence as a child. I loved him. When I saw his Franklin commercials, my Mother got me the Franklin punching bags, the gloves, and from there I just fell in love with his talent. He was to me what boxing is all about. He was classy, he could box, he could punch, he was slick, he could do it all. He was just "it". And of course Mike Tyson. Mike was so exciting because he was just knocking everybody out.
VW: Anyone who's ever seen you can attest to the abundance of talent. For a fighter with only 9 fights under your belt, tell the fight fans out there - aside from an amateur career of 111 fights - how exactly have you managed to polish your game so well in only 3 years of your budding career?
RH: I think it has alot to do with the fact that I've spent alot of time around the right people. Being out here in Los Angeles at the 'Wild Card' (Freddie Roach's Gym), I get the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest minds in the game and spar with some of the greatest to ever lace 'em up.
VW: I understand that Freddie Roach recently spoke of you in a very high regard, stating that he would like Manny Pacquiao to spend time sparring with you because your skills will help him greatly as he prepares for a possible showdown with Oscar De La Hoya. Tell us about some of the pro's you've spent time in the ring with.
RH: Countless fighters. I've spent time with 'Sugar' Shane Mosley, who I learned quite a bit from and enjoyed working with. Peter Manfredo was another. Then there was Antonio Margarito. (voice elevating a few notches).
VW: Considering that he was preparing for the biggest fight of his career, against the most talented fighter he ever fought, tell us how it was to have to go toe to toe with Antonio Margarito at such an early point in your own career.
RH: Being in a training camp with Margarito was an amazing experience. We're about the same height, but he's a big welterweight. He's tricky, he's physically strong, and he keeps the pressure coming. To see him at a distance you think "Ok, he's slower than I am, so I can out-think him or outbox him". Straight up, in the beginning, he gave me hell! He's very heavy-handed and you can't hurt him. When I say you can't hurt him, I mean you can't hurt him! My plan was to prove to him that I could punch and I did that, and although he respected it, he just came back 10 times harder. It was great for me to work against a fighter threw over 100 punches a round in such a small ring. I learned that sometimes you have to box and dictate, while other times you have to keep that defensive posture. It wasn't easy but by the end of the week, things went my way a little more. I think that experience alone will help take my career to another level.
VW: So far, you've fought more in the light-middleweight range, slightly above 150 lbs or so. With your neighboring weight class (the welterweight division) being pretty much the deepest in the sport, have you given any thought to moving down in weight at some point in the future?
RH: Definitely. I'm a welterweight. I fight a little heavier now because it helps me get used to fighting bigger frames, and standing at 6' myself, I have a frame that can accommodate the few extra pounds, but make no mistake, welterweight will be my official division at least for the next couple years.
VW: So with all the experience you're gaining and all the knowledge you're soaking up, what's next for you?
RH: On August 30th, I get a chance to go back home and fight in front of my city. They've given me so much support, and there's so many people out there inquiring about buying tickets, it's amazing. I don't even really have any words for it. Just ready to do what I do in front of my city. In the gym we're still doing alot of work. Working on everything from foot movement, to the speedbag, to running the hills. Just getting ready to put on a show.
VW: Every fighter has a patented shot. I've watched you enough to know what I think your signature shots and strengths are, but coming from the horses mouth, what do you think makes you most effective in the ring?
RH: I love my left-hook but I'm a pure counter-puncher so it's no mistake that I love making a guy miss and making him pay, but overall I'm just trying to become a more complete fighter. As an amateur, I was considered to be more of a speed demon, but right now, I've learned to sit down on my punches alot more. I like my left-hook or that big right hand but everyone tells me my jab is my 'thing' so I guess it's my speed that's actually my best attribute. It makes all of those things effective.
VW: We've seen Kelly Pavlik put Youngstown, Ohio back on the map. It's been years since Cincinnati has had a fighter in the mainstream. Do you think you're ready to carry that torch?
RH: Considering the greats that came from here (Pryor and Charles), that's a big torch to carry and my backs only so big but I have broad shoulders and I'm ready to hold it up.
VW: Looking years down the road, when it's time for you to hang the gloves up, what do you see yourself getting into?
RH: I would love to develop a few inner-city youth programs. People completely underestimate the positive long-term effects of participating in a sport like boxing. You take a child who's only used to seeing those same four walls, and that same block they grew up on, and you take them to a boxing gym, and that one trip can totally change their lives. They may not develop into a world champion or become completely established in the sport, but it teaches them a number of life-lessons. They also get a chance to travel, if their great, even travel internationally, but the experience itself could give them a totally different outlook on life. I don't know for sure if my programs would be related to boxing only, but I just want to take kids who grew up in a similar lifestyle that I did, and help turn them into something they may not have ever become. Just basically give them that chance.
VW: In closing, what words do you have for the fight fans in our country and abroad who now have their eyes on you?
RH: First and foremost I just wanna thank everyone out there who supports me, and all of those out there who will soon start to. Every victory, every punch, ever success is because of you. To those out there who wanna find success in life, whatever you do, KEEP CHASING YOUR DREAMS. They won't come easy, but there's no crown without the cross. You have to go through those trials and tribulations but when you reach that goal and find success, there's no better feeling. I'm living proof. I started boxing at 11, gave it up at 16, destiny bought me back at 19. Now I'm living a dream every day. So keep chasing those dreams and watch them unfold.
As witnessed, this was a very insightful dialogue with a very insightful athlete. In an era where athletes are encouraged by society to give in to the ever-inflating ego, here's a talent that offers more substance than the lavish, and more talent than the average. Whether you find him boppin' his head in his car to the sounds of Jay-Z, or grindin' in the gym to one of his favorite alternative CD's, it's very clear that Rashad Holloway is a man on a mission. His laid back demeanor won't allow him to view himself as 'the man', but I'll take the honors by dubbing him the military equivalence, better known as the "C.O.". Hey, what other two initials could possibly be more fitting for the next official face of boxing for the city of Cincinnati, Ohio? Stay tuned.....
Eastside Boxing would like to thank Rashad Holloway and all associated for the opportunity and wish him the best of luck.
(Got Questions Or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at [email protected], 954-857-6858, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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