Cornelius "DaBeast" White: "Boxing saved my life"
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (March 6, 2013)
“You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. You have to work for what you want”
For some, boxing is the last fork in the road.
With no direction or purpose, the aimless might be saved simply by walking into a gym and finding their passion.
Cornelius “Dabeast” White is a 31-year-old professional boxer. He’s won 19 of his 20 bouts, with 16 of the wins by knockout.
A victory that doesn’t appear on his record, but should, is White’s TKO on the rough streets of Houston.
How bad was the bruising Texas neighborhood?
was very tough,” White told this writer last week. “As a kid I got into a
lot of trouble just by being around negative people. It wasn't that I
had be around them, but being a kid and doing different things, I was
getting involved in bad activities.There were drugs, prostitution and gangs, a lot of activities like that."
In High School, White was All-City in basketball and football. The NBA looked like a lock.
Still, the mean streets beckoned, but so did boxing.
“I was a big Mike Tyson fan,” said White. “I used to pay attention when
Tyson was fighting. Everybody was in the house and around the tube.”
As an amateur fighter, White envisioned himself as a mini Tyson.
"I liked his
brutal mentality, the way he just went forward,” White said. “I started
fighting like that myself. I got into a lot of street fights being like
He quickly found out though that being a tough guy doesn’t guarantee success in the ring.
“I thought I
could go in there in and beat people because I knew how to fight,” said
White. “But, I wasn't doing any of the right things out of the ring. In
my very first amateur fight, I got dropped three times in the first
round. I had my hands down and he (his opponent) caught me with three
left hooks. I kept getting up.
boxing," he said. "I ended up in jail because of the fighting on the
streets. I got baptized and decided that I was going to do this the
right way. When I got out of jail, I got a job with the city (Houston).
My supervisor told me he knew someone at the George Foreman's Gym who
could help me out. That's how it started."
His nickname is one of the best in boxing.
"I got it when
I fought as an amateur,” White recalled. “One of my first coaches at
the Inner City Boxing Gym told everyone that the boy is a beast.
“So, at all my fights he would say that because I was knocking people out. I added the 'Da' and made it "'DaBeast'.”
In boxing, the Houston native found his calling.
love the hard work and dedication. I know I can do anything I want to
do. You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. You have to
work for what you want.
"I think boxing saved my life," White said. "It got me off the streets and away from the drugs."
After a short amateur career, White turned professional. He proceeded to knock out his first 13 opponents in a row.
A fighter with
power can be something of a mystery. Some boxers are sculptured like a
fine Greek statue. But they lack knockout power. Others can resemble a
toothpick (see Danny “Little Red” Lopez featherweight champion in the
1970s) and knock people out with one punch. White is tall (6’2”) and
wiry. Where does his power come from?
"I think it's a blessing,” White said. “I really don't know. When I get in there I just let my hands go."
White felt an
opponent’s power on Feb. 11, 2011 in Atlantic City, NJ. Don “Da Bomb”
George landed a wicked right hand in the first round that collapsed
White like a lawn chair. He admits that the importance of the event got
to him, as did some backstage bickering.
"There was a
lot going on behind the scenes before that fight even happened,” said
White. “I can't take the win from George. He came in that night as the
underdog and did what he had to do. There were problems with my
management. So, when I got into the fight I wasn't mentally in the fight. I was prepared physically, but mentally I wasn't.
“When he caught me, he hit me with a great shot. I fell on my ankle and fractured it. A lot happened in that one moment.
"I asked for
rematch, but nothing ever happened,” he said. "I had to move forward. I
think it's made me a better fighter. The people around me now, my
management, my trainer, if it (the loss) hadn't happened that way, I
don't think I'd be where I am now."
George fight, 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Frank Tate started to train
White. The two hit it off immediately. Tate’s goal was to refine White’s
style by teaching him the technical side of the sport.
boxing in my category,” White said with obvious pride. “Nowadays, you
have to know how to box. Fighting can only take you so far. That's what
Frank's been teaching me."
The road back hasn’t been easy. Five months after his stunning loss to George, White faced cagey gatekeeper Dfair Smith.
myself," White said. “They threw me back in there with a tough opponent.
That wasn't an easy fight coming off a knockout loss. I won, but I
still had the mentality of being caught with a punch.
"Everything I did was safety in that fight,” he admitted. "My next fight I was back with my old fire."
White wants to stay busy in 2013.
"I want to
beat everybody they put in front of me," he said. "I know eventually
that if I keep winning I'll get that world title shot. I can't jump the
gun and rush like I did before. Now I think I'm patient and humble. I 'm
going to let the promoters do their jobs and I'll do my job. I have to
be mentally and physically ready at all times."
back into the ring March 9 against veteran Otis Griffin in Costa Mesa,
CA. A win and he’s that much closer to his dream of fighting for a world
The streets are now a memory.
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