From Corporate Attorney to Boxing Prospect, Venroy July!
Interview by Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 14, 2011) Doghouse Boxing (Photos © Jamie Diaz)
Venroy "So Special" July left St. Catherine, Jamaica, and arrived in the US in 1994 to the Bronx, NY, with his family at the age of 11. Before he took up the manly game of self defense education played a major role in his life. He received a scholarship to Taft School, a private co-educational, preparatory boarding high school in Watertown, CT. He gained honors and captained the track and field, wrestling and football teams in his senior year. He was the New England State Champion in wrestling and the 200-meter track and field event.

July was awarded a full academic scholarship from the University of North Carolina. There he was on the Dean’s List and on the wrestling team winning the ACC championships. He would graduate in 2004 with a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Economics. From there he attended law school at Duke University.

After finishing his first year at law school he was introduced to the sweet science of boxing in 2005. In 2007 he joined Keely’s Youth & Boxing Center in Washington, D.C. After 4 amateur fights with Keely Thompson training him he tried several other gyms before landing at Round 1 where well known trainer Adrian Davis continued to train him. In his ninth bout he won the Novice Golden Gloves Championship of D.C. It was decided it was time to enter the pay for punch ranks.

“The transition to the pro’s was different but in a good way. At that point my style was better suited for the pros. I stalked and punched to hurt, that largely went unrewarded in the amateurs, so the transition to pros where my punches counted for something was a welcomed change,” said July.

At the age of 26 July would turn professional at the Shoreline Ball Room, Hilton Head, S.C. He made his debut against Melvin Miller, 4-1, of Montgomery, AL, on July 25th of 2009. When you are self-managed and unsigned by a promoter you have t o take what you can and with Miller’s good record and 5 fights under his belt they must have figured this would be an easy one in July. July is a southpaw with a build any red blooded American would envy. “We got the fight through a friend of Adrian’s, the trainer of former world champion Paul Williams, who was connected to that show,” said July.

Both July and Miller came in at 191. That is where the comparison ended as July would take the 4 rounder and could retire “undefeated”. Not so fast here! A month later he would move up the east coast to the Benton Convention Center, Winston-Salem, NC. His opponent would be southpaw Scott Hosaflook, 2-4, of Edinburg, VA. He had been in tough in his young career facing Mike Napple 4-0, now contender “Fast Eddie” Chambers, 2-0, Jeremy Bates, 13-4-1 and Adam Seal 6-1. July put Hosaflook down twice in the first round before referee Chris Wollesen halted the bout at 2:59 of the opening round. Both boxers came in at 198.

In November July would face Fred McClinton, 1-1, at the Hilton Hotel, in the District of Columbia. July would find himself in an unusual spot on the canvas for the first time. “It was my first time being down in a fight. That fight was a great experience as I was not focused. I made the mistake of going to work and working a full day the day of the fight. I left work at 7:30pm and then reported to the fight for 8:00pm. Additionally, at that point I didn’t want anyone from work to know I was boxing professionally and I knew there would be at least one partner from my practice group in attendance. The entire time before the fight I was thinking about what his reaction would be,” said July.

“My mind was not in the fight and I literally got knocked down with a few seconds left in the first round after winning the entire round. So I had to refocus and dig in. The funny thing is when I got up off the mat and got to my corner, the same partner who I was so concerned about came to my corner and yelled to me, go kick his butt,” said July. That changed the whole complexion of the bout for July.

“I thought I won every other round, which should have given me the victory, but the result was a rude awakening and I was pretty disgusted with the result. From that point on I decided to never let that happen again. I needed to strike a better balance between my 2 professions,” said July. He did get one of the votes at 38-37 but the others had it a draw and for his opponent.

In July’s fourth fight in January of 2010 he would fight at Michael’s Eighth Avenue, in Glen Burnie, MD. Promoter Scott Wagner runs his “Ballroom Boxing Series” there. His opponent would be Kevin Johnson, 3-2, from Edgewood Arsenal, MD. Only problem was Johnson came in at 217 and July at 200.

I had no problem with the weight difference. Initially we thought I would eventually be a heavyweight, so I wanted to get used to that weight. Now that I have my weight under control, that heavyweight dream is just that, a dream,” said July. By the second round referee John Gradowski had seen enough halting the action at 1:44 of the round in favor of July.

“You get a certain thrill when you knock somebody out, but I am not interested in stopping every fighter. You learn with every fight, see different things. Adrian (Davis) has been working a great deal on my boxing skills so that I do not become infatuated with my power, so sometimes it is necessary to get rounds in. Adrian (Davis) and Antonio “Starchild” Reese feel the power through the mitts every day. Reese is the assistant to Davis.

In April the promoter was able to bring in McClinton who was now 2-1-1. “In the rematch with McClinton I had something to prove. The night before at the weigh-in he tried to start a bit of a commotion with some members from my gym and actually said I beat him once before and they gave him a draw because it was in DC,” said July.

“In the fight he did every dirty thing in the book. He hit behind the head, picked me up and dropped me and hit me low multiple times. I could have easily retaliated but I wanted the knockout, so I kept my cool. Unfortunately the DQ came before the knockout, but the knockout was coming,” said July. The fight was finally stopped at 1:00 of the fifth round by referee Malik Waleed.

July would travel to Johnstown, PA, 2 months later in June and meet DeLeon Tinsley, 9-7-1, of Orlando, FL, in a 6 rounder. This was a major step since Tinsley had been in with some of the best fighters in the division and still had a winning record. He won his first 7 fights finishing with defeating Sharif Kemp, 5-0. He then had a pair of fights with “The Contenders” Joell Godfrey, getting a draw and losing by split decision.

July defeated another from “The Contender” in Alfredo Escalera, Jr., 15-0-1, after losing to Aaron Williams, 12-0-1. He then lost to Germany’s Enad Licina who is schedule to fight IBF Champion Steve Cunningham this month for the cruiser title. Then he followed up with a win over Lou Del Valle, 36-5-1, former WBA 175 champ. Then he was up against 4 opponents with a compiled 46-3-1 record.

“The fight against DeLeon Tinsley was actually my best performance to date. I was happy with that victory because he had beaten some tough competition and had some good ring experience. I hit him with a lot of good shots and things started coming together for me in that fight. I was finally starting to throw some of the shots that Adrian (Davis) had worked on in the gym but which I had not ever tried in fights,” said July. He would take the win on all scorecards by 60-54 twice and 58-56.

July spars with heavyweight Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm, 10-0 (7) out of Philly who comes in at 250, but training is the DC area. “He holds his own with the Freight Train and is very strong. He is smart and uses that in the ring,” said Byarm. This writer discovered July through George Hanson, Jr., Esq. Who writes for “the Mouthpiece”. A fellow writer Robert Coster of Fight News , living in the Dominican, was looking for a Jamaican boxer for a show coming up in Jamaica. Another FN writer Digital Williams also let me know about him being out of MD. July lives in Suitland, MD.

In addition to Byarm July trains with some of the better boxers in MD. “I have sparred a couple of times with Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell (out of GB stable), Henry “Sugar Poo” Buchanan and Vaughn Davis. It’s a good mix. I try to pick up things from each of them.

The Philadelphia fans got a good look at July in his next fight after over a 7 month lay-off at the National Guard Armory show promoted by Greg Robinson’s Power Productions. “I was supposed to fight several times but opponents dropped out on me and most recently I was to fight on Bobby McGruder’s card in Waldorf. Unfortunately during training I was running and tore my calf muscle, so that set me back a bit. The plan is to be much more active, but it is tough getting on cards,” said July.

“Me being on this card is all due to Renee Aiken (matchmaker). She used her contacts to get me this fight. I was eager to fight,” said July. Aiken is one of the most active matchmakers in the east doing shows in PA, NJ, OH, NY, MD and MS. “When Venroy came to me and asked for help he felt he just wasn’t fighting enough, for me as a matchmaker I welcome a fighter that believes in himself and his craft. I told him I would speak to the promoters I’m working with and see if we could get him moving. Greg Robinson (Power Productions) agreed to put him on. The best thing for me as a matchmaker is to be honest as I can with the fighters that come to me. I believe he has the tools if he continues to keep moving to make some noise in the cruiserweight division,” said Aiken.

Originally July was matched with Philly’s Pedro Martinez, 5-4 (3). He was replaced by Joe Broken Rope, 2-0 (0), out of Butte, MT. Rope felt July’s power early when a jab to the eye left a red mark the size of a baseball. He then either ducked low as if to tackle July or got on his bicycle running around the ring. July put some real hard body shots on Rope when he did corner him. July easily won all 4 rounds on the judge’s scorecards. Rope had over 50 amateur fights to the 9 that July had so their experience kind of evened out. “It was good to be back in the ring. I never thought the guy would run the whole time,” said July. Martinez would have been right in front of him trying to slug it out.

July agreed to take a few questions for this writer.

KEN HISSNER: How would you like to return to your homeland and fight in Jamaica?

I would absolutely love to fight in Jamaica. Jamaica has a history of great boxing champions (Mike McCallum, Glen Johnson, Trevor Berbrick, Razor Ruddock). I am just the next in line. I want my countrymen to see what next is coming, so I would love the opportunity to fight there.

KEN HISSNER: How do you balance being an attorney and a boxer?

I am a corporate attorney. The key is just balance and dedication and having a team that is willing to work around my schedule which is why I am so loyal to Adrian. If I have a deal going on, when I get to the office I just have to stay there until the work is done, so whenever I have a deal, I wake up at 5-5:30 run to the gym and Adrian or “Starchild” will meet me at the gym for 7:00am. We work out and then I am able to get to the office by 9-9:45. Then I can work until 12am and just follow that routine. If I don’t have a deal going on I normally get into work a bit earlier and am able to leave by 7:00pm and Adrian will wait for me until I get there. He sees my dedication so he dedicates himself to me. (“He is a clean liver. He doesn’t smoke or drink, goes to the gym 6 days a week and is really a hard worker,” said Adrian Davis.)

KEN HISSNER: You will be 28 this month. Do you feel you have a lot of catching up to do?

I don’t think I have to “hurry” my career along, more like “methodical aggression”. I am still learning, I am not like a lot of guys who have been boxing since they were very young so they are limited in how much further they are going to be able to develop. I have a lot of room to grow and am getting better every day in the gym. Furthermore I am a natural athlete so I just have a certain level of athleticism that simply cannot be taught. Additionally the great thing about my professional balance is that I don’t need to rush. I have an excellent job which I enjoy doing, so unlike a lot of boxers who see their careers ruined because of financial necessity, I don’t have to take bad fights just because I need the money. I have been approached with bad fights already. When I was 3-0 a promoter in my area approached us to fight a guy who was 15-1. That is a terrible fight, but if I needed the money badly I might have jumped at the payday. I am not at the mercy of people who themselves are only out for a payday. So we take fights to help with my development. In a little bit the same people who try to call now to “help” us will deliberately lose our number.

KEN HISSNER: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?

Well, I am not sure I have fans yet, but remember the name Venroy “So Special“ July. Know that when you see me at the top it’s because of hard work and dedication. When I am mentally exhausted from work I still train, when I am physically exhausted from training, I still work. Ken thanks again for the opportunity.

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