Hasim Rahman has miles to go before he sleeps
On April 22nd, 2001, a young fighter from the streets of Baltimore, Maryland, with a checkered past and a very limited amateur background, shocked the world in Brakpan, South Africa, by defeating a heavily favored Lennox Lewis to become the last American lineal Heavyweight Champion.
Since that historic bout, which represents the pinnacle of his career, Rahman has been somewhat of an enigma.
Although competing in 6 title fights after his shocking upset victory over Lewis, the 38 year old fighter has only been able to take advantage of one of his championship opportunities.
In 2005, "The Rock" defeated Monte Barrett in a 12 round unanimous decision to win the interim WBC Heavyweight title.
In his most recent title fight, which took place in December of 2008, the Maryland native was stopped by the current universally recognized champ, Wladimir Klitschko, in the seventh round.
With that TKO loss, the boxing universe felt that they had seen the last of a championship relevant Hasim Rahman.
If "The Rock" retired today, he would more than likely end up in Canastota, New York, due to his legendary performance in South Africa which earned him the same distinction held by all time greats such as Joe Louis, Mike Tyson, and Muhammad Ali.
He has no need to prove his worth to anyone in boxing, yet "The Rock" continues to trudge up the hill to complete his personal quest for boxing greatness once again.
"I still have the heart, determination, skill, chin, and one punch knock-out power to become a champion again," declares the former lineal Heavyweight Champion. "I know I do. It's what motivates me."
"I'm not finished yet," declares the 38 year old fighter. "Most people don't realize that I am a year younger than Vitali Klitschko and continue to be the only heavyweight in the division with true one-punch knock-out power."
"How many fighters in the division today could lay out Lennox Lewis with one punch?"
Rahman feels that he still has a lot to offer the sport of boxing, and more specifically, the heavyweight division.
"The heavyweight division needs a fighter like me," explains Hasim. "It seems that Wladimir Klitschko has done his best to ruin boxing with his constant holding and refusal to take risks."
"When I fought Klitschko in Germany, every time I was able to get inside his jab, he was allowed to hold. I've seen fighters get disqualified for holding less than Wlad, and for some reason, he is allowed to hold as much as he wants because he's so afraid of being hit."
"When you're a heavyweight who doesn't have the threshold to take shots from another heavyweight fighter, it just doesn't capture the imagination of the real fight fans."
The former champ also feels that Wladimir Klitschko's power is somewhat overrated.
"Klitschko throws his right hand straight down the middle every time, and so it doesn't have the same effect as a sharp, crisp shot that you don't see coming," professes Rahman. "How many one-punch knock-outs does he have on his record? The world of boxing needs to see the kind of knock outs that I have on my highlight reel in order for the Heavyweight division to live again."
Hasim Rahman is currently ranked 40th in the world, but the Baltimore native knows from experience that everything can drastically change with one big shot.
"When you have the kind of power that I have, anything can happen," claims Rahman. "If I continue to knock my opponents out, I'll eventually get another shot at the title. A lot of fighters would love to see the name 'Hasim Rahman' on their record. Unfortunately for them, it wouldn't be in the win column."
Realistically, the former champion is indeed correct. "The Rock" is only one victory over a top ten ranked heavyweight away from becoming a force in the division one more time; and what fighter wouldn't love to have the name of a former champion on their resume?
Hasim Rahman continues to hold the distinction of being one of only two men to ever defeat Lennox Lewis.
"I know I can become champion once again," exclaims 'The Rock'. "When you have the passion and the desire that I have, you can't just ignore that. You have to go after it with everything you have."
The 38 year old fighter also wishes to set a proper example for two young fighters who hope to one day become champions as well.
His two boys, Hasim Jr, who is currently a member of the Kronk Gym Fight Team and is trained by legendary trainer Manny Steward, and Sharif Rahman, who at the age of 14 is already becoming a complete fighter according to his father.
"Believe it or not, Sharif is a hybrid between Pernell Whitaker and Mike Tyson," describes the proud father. "He has great defensive skills but is also a potent offensive fighter. He can do it all."
Hasim believes that setting a proper example for his kids is the most important job that he will ever have.
"I have to show them that boxing isn't a game," states the veteran fighter. "It's life or death in the ring. If my boys don't take boxing seriously and don't put forth the kind of dedication needed to become champion, I won't support them in the ring. I won't even show up to their fights if they aren't serious about it."
"Both of them have a lot of talent, but you can't become a champion on talent alone," explains Rahman. "It takes countless hours in the gym and 100% dedication to the sport."
During his campaign on the comeback trail, Hasim has also discovered inspiration from another unexpected source.
"Seeing a guy like Bernard Hopkins win a world title at the age of 46 has inspired me to beat the odds and to prove my critics wrong," claims the 38 year old fighter. "If he can do it at 46, I can do it at 38; I know I can.
Defying the odds is something that Rahman has been doing his entire life.
Rahman has endured and prevailed over a life on the streets, riddled with violence. He cheated death on more than one occasion, and is the survivor of not only several shootings, but a near fatal car accident which left him with a permanent scar as a reminder of his troubled youth.
Now, at the age of 38, Hasim "The Rock" Rahman continues to lace up the gloves in his effort to claim heavyweight glory one final time.
"I have what it takes to get to the top. I'm not finished with boxing and I will become heavyweight champion once again."
Source: Eastside Boxing
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