I grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Englewood area three houses down from the family home of Larry Hoover, the founder of the gangster disciples. The area left many things to be desired. However, it was still a community filled with awesome families, friends, and pride. My parents migrated from Belzoni, Mississippi with the intention of providing better social, economic, and educational opportunities for their children. Once they settled into their new environment, my parents, who had two children prior to relocation now, introduced four more. There were now six of us, four girls and two boys, with me being the youngest. With a seven-year age difference between myself and nearest sister, I truly felt alone.
Christian values, discipline, and education were a mainstay in our household. With no siblings near my age and a staunchly Christian mother, my mind grew restless. I gravitated toward unsavory peers on the street. Even with a stable home life and being very young, I found myself marching toward destruction. My father passed away leaving Mom alone with six children, and me spiraling out of control. However, my awesome mother noticed a couple of things that always stopped me cold and got my attention: watching boxing films and kung fu movies. Mom signed me up for martial arts classes despite having to support six children with a meager budget. I have to pause at this moment to thank my mother for having love and faith in me and never giving up. With your love, and the Creator’s blessing, my life was forever changed for the better. So, it’s 1976 and my first day of Karate class. I was welcomed in and began my work. The first thing I noticed was there was no “street” mentality. My peers were disciplined and I felt safe. After my first day, I was very excited, but even more exhausted. I can remember a few weeks later I sparred for the first time and caught a high round kick to the head.
Wow, that wasn’t awesome at all! Well, Mom picked me up from class; I showed her my not-so-awesome “hickey” and requested never to return. Her response was, “put some rubbing alcohol on that knot when you get home.” It’s hilarious to me now, but not so much back then. Needless to say, I continued and thrived, and my eternal love for martial arts was born.
In 1984, I signed up for boxing and wrestling at the Chicago Park district. These arts fit like a glove. I consistently trained/competed until 1989, winning Park District titles in both Boxing and Wrestling and earning an amateur boxing record of 32-0. That summer, I moved to Costa Mesa, California, to begin a professional boxing career. I trained at Westminster Boxing Club and 108th street Gym in LA. Boxing came naturally, and I amassed a 28-0 pro record. However, due to contract disputes with my promoter, management, and my eldest Sister Rosie taking ill, I returned home to Chicago. She later lost her fight with cancer and will be forever missed.
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