Close to 5000 people watched history Saturday night. Caleb Truax and Matt Vanda electrified the crowd for 10 rounds…

For 17 years Matt Vanda has been Minnesota’s most electrifying fighter and biggest draw. Win, lose, or draw, the fans were getting their money’s worth. Saturday night, in Vanda’s final fight, he brought the crowd, action, will, determination, and everything you’d expect from The Predator for 10 full rounds…. Vanda clearly did not come to just say goodbye, he came to end things with a victory… But “Golden” Caleb Truax had other plans.. On a night of great action, capped off by Truax/Vanda, the main event was also the fight of the night. Michael Faulk proved many, myself included, that he can bring the boom and excitement as he surprised most with a thrilling KO of crowd favorite Jon Schmidt…. It may have been the only stoppage of the evening, but it would be worthy of KO of the night on many a card….Follow MNBoxingLeague on Twitter. and MNBoxingLeague on Facebook.

Caleb Truax over Matt Vanda by UD in 10…… The scores from the judges had it as close as 2 points and as far as 9… I was too busy enjoying the great action to score for myself other than having Truax ahead in rounds… This was one of those rare local match-ups where the crowd was proud and loud for both fighters, every round ending with people standing and cheering on both men.. Vanda came determined and ready to rumble!! He attacked in every round… Equally impressive was Truax doing the same thing… This was the dance all had hoped for but some did not see coming… While Truax clearly won, Vanda did not lose.. As the rounds pilled up, so did Caleb Truax’s lead, but each round was its own fight and it lasted all 10, no breaks, no rounds off, just action, sweat and work… Both fighters hurt each other and both came right back to the middle of the ring… In the end, Truax’s size and skill won the fight. But they both won the night, frankly, the fans were the biggest winners of all, this was one of, if not the best all action MN vs MN fight I have witnessed… Again, I don’t want to take away from Truax’s victory… He won, he deserved to win, and he was impressive.. He just keeps getting better and there is little doubt in peoples minds that big things are on the horizon for Golden Truax… Very fitting way for Vanda’s career to end and Truax to take the lead and carry the torch going forward…

Charles Meier over Travis Perzynski by MD in 8…. This too was a war, both fighters hit the mat and both came  back swinging… Very close fight, and with the knock-downs canceling each other out, I had Meier’s superior boxing skill win a close one… Great fight and on most nights, fight of the night… Love to watch both guys again!

Mohammed Kayongo over Gilbert Venagas by UD in 6…. This was a war from start to finish, another great action packed fight… Kayongo’s ring rust was there, as I think if more active this would have been an easier night for him. Fortunately for Kayongo, he can also bang and thats what it took to get the W.

Mike Faulk over Jon Schmidt by first round TKO…. Wow! I have been hard on Faulk and his style… Big ups to Faulk and the boom he DOES have…. As most, I expected Faulk to use his solid defense and pick and choose his spots. Well, Faulk let fly and caught Schmidt flush, and that was that… Schmidt proudly got to his feet but was unable to continue… Hope to see both fighters in action again soon…

Tony Lee over Leonard Overstreet by UD in 4….. It took Lee all 4 rounds, but he was the better fighter.. This victory seems to pave the way for Lee vs McLaurin…

Kenneth Glenn over Damion Hill by UD in 4…. This was a fun fight and I to had Glenn the victor…

Jeremy McLaurin over Dewyane Wisdom by UD in 4…. I was told before the fight that Wisdom may pull off an upset here.. He did not, but he gave McLaurin all the work he wanted. Wisdom bullied his way inside and tried to stay there all 4 rounds. McLaurin used superior boxing skill and landed the more precise punches, but Wisdom was there all fight and he too landed… I hate four round fights, very hard to score… I had McLaurin winning close fight. This looks to lead in to McLaurin vs Lee….

November 17, “Knock Out Hunger”, Crown Plaza, Saint Paul, Minnesota results…

For a complete recap check out, they have their quick results up and will have a more detailed recap and photos later. Below is how we saw the action as paying fans in the crowd….

Omega Presents started off with a bang! The Crown Plaza was packed and I am pretty sure nobody left without being entertained… It was great to see that kind of energy back at a local boxing event. As most predicted Hultin vs Perzynski probably had fight of the night in an action packed affair. Truax and Meier finished their opponents in impressive fashion.

Fight by fight from the crowd…. winners in bold

Serhiy Karpenko vs Dakota Talbott…….. This fight went longer than most expected. Dakota has a chin! Granted Karpenko ending things at the end of the second round but I think even he was surprised at how well Dakota was able to deal with his power to start, but Serhiy just kept coming and throwing crisp punches finally ending things with a big straight right.

“Sir” Charles Meier vs Bruce Johnson….. Meier brought the action and sharp punches. Johnson too has a chin! SIR Charles was just too much and completely controlled the action for the 3 rounds it lasted.

Travis Perzynski vs Tyler Hultin….. All thought this would be fight of the night and it lived up to it. Perzynski was clearly the bigger guy and used that to his advantage controlling much of the action. Both guys came to bang and it looked like Travis was able to make the fight he wanted. 4 rounds of action ended with Perzynski putting Tyler on the matt in the closing seconds giving him a pretty wide UD. Really fun fight!

Jon “The Ironman” Schmidt vs Keith Collins…. Schmidt coming off of a long lay-off showed little rust as he outboxed, out punched, out fought and controlled pretty much the whole 6 round fight on his way to dominate UD.

“Sir” Cerresso Fort vs Brandon “The Business” Baue…. This was all Fort, but Baue made it entertaining. Fort could not seem to ever really hurt Baue no matter how hard he loaded up. Brandon knew his place and worked not only Fort but the crowd as he taunted Fort to bring more…. All in, entertaining fight, but easy to score UD for Fort. (Baue had Fort pretty hurt in the 4th.)

“Golden” Caleb Truax vs Michael “The Midnight Stalker” Walker…. What can I say, Truax put on a 4 round clinic brutalizing Walker almost every second. Truax landed cleanly to the body, head, and mind!!! The fight was stopped at the end of the 4th round as Walker clearly had no answers for what Golden Truax was bringing. Caleb Truax, now (20,1,1) just keeps improving and we are looking forward to his next step up in competition.

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Again, Omega Presents put on a highly entertaining night of fights. Fan friendly, lots of rounds, and some great KO’s… Lets hope this is a sign of things to come!!


Up next in Minnesota boxing action, November 17, Caleb Truax (19,1,1) headlining!!

Caleb Truax (19,1,1) and Cerresso Fort (13,0,1) sparring a few months back. See them in separate bouts November 17, Crown Plaza, Saint Paul MN… Also on card, fan favorite, Jon Schmidt (10,2), Charles Meier, Tyler Hultin, Vicente Alfaro, and more… Looks to be a great night of fights!! Much more to come. Here is the card as it stands on boxrec.

Truax (left) Fort (right)


Seconds Out Promotions, Press Release


Truax to Battle Rival Phil Williams April 23!


For Immediate Release


truaxwilliamsSt. Paul, MN (April 6, 2010) – Highly touted super middleweight Caleb “Golden” Truax will meet in-state rival Phil “The Drill” Williams at the St. Paul Armory Friday, April 23, in the main event of Seconds Out Promotions’ “St. Paul Brawl”.


A flawless 14-0 with 9 knockouts, Truax is amongst the top up-and-comers in the Midwest. The Osseo, MN native stopped five of his last seven opponents, most recently outpointing well regarded Kerry Hope in the World Boxing Federation’s Fight of the Year.


Williams, a dynamic power puncher, looks to get back on track following two recent setbacks. At 11-3 with 10 KO’s, Williams owns knockout victories over former title challenger Antwun Echols, underrated Marcus Upshaw, and twice decked unbeaten contender Marcus Oliveira before coming up short. A resident of Minneapolis, MN by way of Queens, NY, Williams is confident he will tarnish Truax’ perfect record.


Truax and Williams meet over ten rounds for local bragging rights, as the Minnesota State Super Middleweight title will be up for grabs.


In the eight round co-feature, cement fisted heavyweight Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell battles 31 fight veteran Josh “The Griz” Gutcher of Albia, IA. A fan favorite based out of Coon Rapids, Abell sports a 25-4 record with 24 wins by knockout. Having fought in the U.S., Sweden, Canada and Saint Lucia, Abel is globally recognized as a devastating puncher.


Unbeaten featherweights Ismail Muwendo and Gustavo Espinoza meet over four rounds, while crowd favorites Jon “Iron Man” Schmidt, Charles Meier, Derek Winston and Antwon Robertson will appear in separate bouts against opponents to be announced.


With mixed martial arts’ interest at an all time high, Seconds Out added three special attraction MMA bouts to the card. Middleweight Jedidiah Jones meets Isiah Mahto in a highly anticipated three round rematch, while well regarded locals Travis Reddinger and Zach Juusola meet opponents TBA.


Tickets for the “St. Paul Brawl” are $25 for general admission and $75 for VIP and are available at Doors to open at 7 pm. The first bell is slated for 8.


The St. Paul Armory is located at 600 Cedar Street St. Paul, MN 55101.



When retired professional boxer Tony Grygelko found himself unable to stay out of the gym, he realized that his passion for boxing was undeniable. At age 29, Grygelko formed Seconds Out Promotions. By utilizing the vast boxing knowledge of world-class trainer Ron Lyke, Grygelko and Seconds Out quickly became a hit.



Through determination, integrity and hard work, Seconds Out strives to become a top promotional firm by giving young fighters the ability to showcase their talents to a worldwide audience, along with offering fans the highest quality of entertainment. Seconds Out is committed to recruitment and development of the best and brightest young fighters to help achieve our mission.



Seconds Out Promotions’ current stable of pugilists includes undefeated prospects “Golden” Caleb Truax, Marcus Oliveria, Michael Faulk, Ismail Muwendo, dynamite fisted Heavyweight Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell, Willshaun Boxley, Charles Meier, Jon “The Ironman” Schmidt, and Mohammed Kayongo.



For more information, go to

Jon Schmidt vs Robert Kamya and Marcus Levesseur vs Mike Richman Feb 13 at the St. Paul Armory

I am really looking forward to several fights on this card. Schmidt (9,1) vs Kamya (17,10) should be a nice fight and a great jump-start for the winner. Ismail Muwendo (4,0) will be facing Noe Perez (2,1) and Willshaun Boxley (5,3) goes against William Hernandez (2,0). I am also very pumped to see Mike Richman go up against Marcus Levesseur in MMA action.



November 20, The Golden Age, Press Release


Truax-Daniels IBA Title Fight Headlines November 20!


For Immediate Release


calebtruax_newlrgSt. Paul, MN – Unbeaten Super Middleweight “Golden” Caleb Truax will vie for his first title Friday November 20 against former world champion Carl Daniels in the main event of Seconds Out Promotions’ “The Golden Era” live from the St. Paul Armory.


Truax, 13-0 (9 KO’s), has been impressive thus far during his young career. The Osseo, MN native stopped five of his last six opponents, including an impressive TKO over veteran Patrick Perez in July.


Daniels, of St. Louis, MO, is a former WBA Junior Middleweight champion and fought the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Julio Cesar Green, Julio Cesar, Laurent Boudouani and Chad Dawson. The 69 fight veteran is Truax’ most experienced foe to date.


The Truax-Daniels matchup is scheduled for ten rounds, with the winner claiming the IBA Americas Super Middleweight championship.


In the co-featured bout of the evening, hard hitting Welterweight Muhammad “African Assassin” Kayongo of St. Paul returns following a one year absence to challenge James Todd of the United Kingdom. Kayongo, 14-2 (10 KO’s) and Todd, 2-1-1 (1 KO) are scheduled to do battle over 10 rounds for the IBA Intercontinental Welterweight title.


Kayongo-Todd is expected to be far more competitive than it looks on paper, as the latter was an elite amateur, former member of the Calzaghe Training Camp and now part of the illustrious Talon Boxing Camp in Big Bear, CA.


Former amateur star Michael Faulk of St. Paul takes on Ryan Soft, 1-0-1 (1 KO), of North Dakota in a four round Junior Middleweight bout. Faulk, 1-0 (1 KO), was rated the #2 amateur in the nation by USA Boxing.


Middleweights Charles Meier, 3-1 (2 KO’s), and Josh Rodriguez, 4-10 (3 KO’s) will meet over four rounds. Marvin Rodriguez, 2-2 (1 KO), challenges Silas Ortey, 4-7 (3 KO’s), also in a four round Middleweight affair.


Super Bantamweights Felix Martinez of Bloomington, MN squares off against Ugandan Phillip Adyaka in a four rounder. Martinez and Adyaka are both looking for their first professional victory.


Mixed martial artist Derek Abrams meets Caleb Wolf over three 5 minute rounds in the Featherweight (145 lb) division and Welterweight Jedidiah Jones makes his debut against an opponent TBA, also in a three rounder.


Lightweight prospect Jeremy McLaurin, 5-0 (4 KO’s), and local favorite Jon “The Iron Man” Schmidt, 9-1 (6 KO’s) are slated to appear in separate bouts.


Tickets are $25 for general admission and $55 for VIP. General admission for children under 13 is $5. Tickets to “The Golden Era” are available by calling 612-807-5547. Doors to open at 7 and the first bell is slated for 8 pm.


The St. Paul Armory is located at 600 Cedar Street St. Paul, MN 55101

When retired professional boxer Tony Grygelko found himself unable to stay out of the gym, he realized that his passion for boxing was undeniable. At age 29, Grygelko formed Seconds Out Promotions. By utilizing the vast boxing knowledge of world-class trainer Ron Lyke, Grygelko and Seconds Out quickly became a hit.

Through determination, integrity and hard work, Seconds Out strives to become a top promotional firm by giving young fighters the ability to showcase their talents to a worldwide audience, along with offering fans the highest quality of entertainment. Seconds Out is committed to recruitment and development of the best and brightest young fighters to help achieve our mission.

Seconds Out Promotions’ current stable of pugilists includes undefeated prospects “Golden” Caleb Truax, Marcus Oliveria, Michael Faulk, Ismail Muwendo, Jeremy McLaurin, dynamite fisted Heavyweight Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell, Willshaun Boxley, Charles Meier, Jon “The Ironman” Schmidt, and Mohammed Kayongo.



 For more information, go to

“Golden” Caleb Truax Interview / The Golden State is about to get a little more Golden

Only a couple days before his scheduled departure for California, “Golden” Caleb Truax was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about Big Bear, IBA Americas Belt, Andy Kolle, and more.


M…. Since you have already been to Big Bear, do you think you will be able to even take more away from this learning experience?
Caleb…. I definitely will be able to take more away from this experience because I know what to expect and hopefully will adapt to the elevation change quicker so I can take more from each workout.
M…. Can you tell us what it is like there?
Caleb…. Well I will be at a different place than I was at last time but I’m sure it will be similar. Beautiful scenery, hills everywhere that make for challenging road work, and 1st rate sparring. I couldn’t ask for much more to get me ready for Oct. 17th
M…. How long to you plan to be in CA?
Caleb…. I will be there for a week (sun to sun) for sure and there is a chance I might stay longer.
M…. Do you know some of the people you will be able to spar and train with?
Caleb…. I know Otis Griffin and Yusaf Mack regularly train at that camp so hopefully I can work with them. I believe there are a few young fighters out there to spar with as well. Also Jeremy and I will head to Wildcard gym twice during the week and get some sparring down there.
M…. Oct 17 you will be fighting for an IBA America’s belt, what does that mean to you?
Caleb…. Its a minor belt but it is still awesome to be able to fight for a belt. It should add some excitement to the card and will help with marketing in the future. I can’t wait to bring it home!
M…. I have to ask, is Andy Kolle still in your sites?
Caleb…. No, his team doesn’t want to fight me so forget em
M…. Kolle aside, are there any Minnesota fights out there that interest you?
Caleb…. Whoever my team decides is next.
M…. Out of all the guys you have trained and worked out with, who would you say works the hardest?
Caleb…. Jon Schmidt, hands down. He’s a nut case when it comes to working out. Its good to have someone like that along side you in the gym because we can always push each other to get better.
M…. What do you think is going to be the biggest help from your trip to CA?
Caleb…. The quality sparring will be beneficial and the altitude training will increase my endurance. Should be a great trip!
M…. Do you have anything else you would like to say?
Caleb…. Oct. 17th St. Paul Armory! come check me out!

Bobby Kliewer Interview / Come see the New Bobby Kliewer this Friday at the Myth

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Don’t let his record fool you, Robert (Bobby) Kliewer (9,8,2) is one tough customer. Always a crowd favorite, his opponents could arguably be among the most difficult of middles in the state. He has fought and beat Jon Schmidt (9,1), as well as faced a regular who’s who of Minnesota middleweight talent. Caleb Truax (13,0), Andy Kolle (19,2), and  Cerresso Fort (6,0) are all on Kliewer’s resume. Bobby explains that he is always game to fight and hasnt always had the time to be in top shape. Of all the fighters he has faced, there is only one Kliewer felt was better than him, Anthony Dirrell (18,0). With school behind him, and the time to be in the shape needed to compete at the highest level, Bobby feels we will just now be starting to see the best he has to offer. This Friday night will be the start of what Kliewer hopes will be a new and even stronger boxing career.


Courstesy of

Courstesy of


M…. Did you have many amateur fights before turning pro back in 2006?


Kliewer…. I had 41 amateur fights before I turned pro. I won 23, I fought a lot of different fighters in a lot of weight classes from 95 to 152. I fought Jamal James 6 times, Derek Winston twice, Mike Faulk, Sam Morales, Wilton and Jose Hilario. I fought in a couple national tournaments, like the under 19 tournament, a few ringsides, one silver gloves, and one junior Olympics.


M….  What got you interested in boxing? Have you always been a fan?


Kliewer….  My dad knew Johnny Johnson from back in the day and brought me and my friend up to the gym one day when I was 13 and I just stuck with it. Prior to that, I really didn’t have much interest in boxing.

M…. You have a unique boxing style, is it something you came up with? Have you always boxed this way?


Kliewer…. I think that I fight the way I fight because of all of the different influences I’ve had in the gym growing up. I had to adapt to everyone, so I feel like I can fight every style of fighter.


M…. How would you describe your boxing style?


Kliewer….  My style could simply be described as awkward, I can box, or I can counter punch, the only way I dont like to fight is inside, which is probably a good thing, seeing as how I am usually the taller fighter.

M…. People are generally pretty excited to see your name on a card because your fights are always action packed, is that something you try to do or is it just the way you fight?


bobyflipKliewer….  I know what I like to see when I fight and I think that is what other people like to see as well. People pay to see a show, they don’t want to watch people pitter patter or wait around in the ring or especially give up. I don’t care if I’m tired and losing the fight or not, I’m leaving it all in the ring. As long as I can stand I’m staying in there fighting, I’m a real competitive person and I think that shows in everything I do.

M…. You have fought a regular who’s who of Minnesota boxers. What would be your most memorable instate match up?


Kliewer…. That’s an easy one, when I fought Raul at the Target Center, getting a KO in the last seconds of a fight that I was probably losing (maybe due to a bad 8 count) is and probably will always be my best boxing memory.


M…. Since you have faced them all, who would you say were the toughest of Minnesota’s middleweight class?


Kliewer…. That question is a little harder, because they are all different and I’ve fought them at different points in my life and in different shape. But Cerresso is probably one of the toughest in state, because he is always in shape and has some pretty solid defense, Kolle is like a machine though with all of the punches he throws. They might not be the hardest punches but there are a lot. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been in good enough shape as I should have been in when I fought any of the guys in the past year, but now I’m back home and ready. But the toughest fighter I’ve fought would be Dirrell, he is the only fighter I’ve ever been in the ring with that I truly felt was better than me, not just in better shape.


M…. You will be meeting John Turner this Friday. You were able to beat him by UD back in 08, how do you see this fight turning out?


Kliewer…. Well  he was about 15lbs heavier than me then and I really had not been training and it was a pretty one sided 4 round dec. and this time I get 6 rounds to put in work and I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I can remember. Not saying top shape, but I’m feeling good. John looks like he’s in pretty good shape since I see him in passing at the gym and I know he can take a punch. But I really don’t think he has a chance at hurting me, i’m too tall and should be able to box him easily and pick my shots, hopefully ending up in an early night for me. He has fought some bigger guys, so we’ll see what happens. That’s why people come to the fights, they can’t be predicted.

M…. Jason Litzau is fighting on the Roy Jones Jr undercard this Saturday, do you have a prediction?


Kliewer…. The guy is short, like 5’5″ with like 7kos, should be an easy night for Jay, I say Jason stops him by 5.


M…. Aside from your fight, what bouts are you looking forward to seeing Friday?


Kliewer…. I think the cousins fighting should be an interesting exhibition, and I always like to watch my boys from Rice St. fight. Vanda always come to fight so we’ll see how he feels at a heavier weight, I’m thinking it should be a real good show.

M…. What should fight fans expect from a Bobby Kliewer fight?


Kliewer…. A good time, people are paying to watch me fight, and I’m trying to give them their money’s worth and that’s what they will get. You’re going to see me box, bang, and put on a show.

M…. Is there anything you would like to add?


Kliewer….  I’m back home from college for good, so I’ll be here and ready to fight anyone near 160lbs. I’ll be back in the gym Monday after the fights, back to training, I’m trying to make this fight a statement fight, so people know that I’m for real and when I’m in shape I can fight anyone, rematch or first time I’m down. on Facebook, become a fan and show your support for Minnesota boxing.

The Drill Speaks – Part II by Laura Zink / Look for Part III Friday

 7-01-09 Phil Williams part 1


The Drill Speaks – Part II

On his Life, Fighting, and being “Directly Related”

By: Laura Zink

Photographs By:


Everything I do is Directly Related to the Inner-city: people who come from a struggle. That’s basically where I came from, so I am showing my Love and Loyalty to these people. I have love for people who are going through those struggles. Everything I do is directly related to helping out those people.

Phil “The D.R.I.L.L.” Williams


In 2003, after just 4 amateur bouts, Phil Williams entered the USA Boxing State Amateur drillChampionships in St. Cloud. His friends, encouraging his boxing pursuits, had given him a new ring name for the occasion. This tournament would be the first time he fought under that name in public. On the first day of the tournament, Williams had Jon Schmidt’s nose bloodied by round 3, earning Schmidt a standing 8 count and resulting in a victory decision for Williams. The next day, Williams beat his next challenger, Chad Tostenson, resulting in another victory decision. After those two victories, the Minnesota Amateur State Champion of 2003 would be known as “The Drill.”


It’s not exactly standard boxing protocol to generate a professional ring name as an amateur, yet Phil Williams has used his moniker, “The Drill,” for 29 amateur fights…and through 12 professional ones.


But just as his ring name was established with untraditional timing, so too were the beginnings of his boxing career. It all began about 10 years ago, when a 22 year old Williams was working as a barber at New Dimensions of Hair in Minneapolis. That day, Williams put down the clippers and thought to himself:

Man, I’m fittin to find me a gym today…

For many involved in the sweet science, picking up boxing at the age of 22 would seem a late start at best, and unpromising at worst. But for Williams, the choice he made that afternoon was fostered from a lifetime of struggle, of change, and, of course, of fighting. Life in the inner-city afforded Williams neither the time nor the leisure to go down to a boxing gym to train. For Williams, life had always been a constant race against time, and by the age of 22, Williams knew that he was lucky not to be in jail…and luckier still to even be alive.


“I am the only male that’s out,” Williams commented about his family in North Minneapolis, “I’m the only male that is free enough. Everybody else is either locked up or they dead. If I could show you my family tree, three of the relatives would be on the one tree and the next two, they are just my homies. But all of them are all buried under the same tree, all next to each other like back-to-back-to-back. 24 years old. 24…actually three of them died at 24. Something about that number 24. I don’t know. They don’t make it to 25.”


And while life in the inner-city had taken so many of his friends and family, Williams survived and became a wiser man for it. To Williams, his experiences and his struggles are all directly related to the man that he is today. Perhaps this is the reason why Williams turned his ring name, which was once only a rhyme, into an acronym. Today, the moniker speaks to his over-arching ambition for both his life and his boxing: Directly Related to the Inner-city with Love and Loyalty.


Phil Williams’ inner-city experience began the day he was born in Queens, New York on July 17, 1977. His mother, a young, rebellious, and roaming spirit, was his only parent. He never met his father, nor did he ever know his name. Before Williams was even 5 years old, his mother took herself and her son on a year-long road trip which would end in South Minneapolis. They would stay there for the rest of Williams’ childhood. Quickly thereafter, Williams’ mother met a new man, and had a son by him, Williams’ half-brother, who would be later known as “Rev.”


Being separated from his mother’s family in New York, Williams’ half-brother’s family soon became his. His brother’s father, who Williams admits today was something of a “career criminal,” became one of the influential male-figures in his life. One of the things that he taught Williams from an early age was the necessity of fighting.


“The thing was that my brother’s dad and that whole side of the family, they all would fight,” Williams said, “All they did was teach us how to fight. Fight, fight, fight. It was like, ‘I been fighting people. You can’t run. You always got to fight boy!’ He would teach us how to fight…and I was little. They made me fight all the time. Even when I was waist high, he would punch me in the chest. You didn’t get a whopping. You would get punched in the chest, or in the arm, or in the leg, or something like that. That was how we were raised up.”


But it wasn’t just at home where Williams learned the necessity of fighting, everywhere outside the house, similar lessons abounded.


“Well first of all, they like to fight,” Williams explained about the people he grew up with in South and North Minneapolis, “All the time arguing. Everything is real competitive. Everything that you do, it always resorts to some type of conflict. Football, sports, especially basketball. We would always start some type of conflict because that’s how you grow. Everywhere you go, there is so much tension going on. You go home and you deal with so much stress. And by the time you go outside all you learn is that you want it take it out on something. Everyone has so much aggression going on that they always try to start some type of conflict.”


“Always growing up, where ever we were at, it was a combative mode,” Williams continued, “It was always who was tougher than who. And I always could box. In the neighborhood all the kids would get together and we would slap box. I always had a big forehead, and I was always muscular. And because I had a big forehead and I was so big, everybody called me Sugar Ray Leonard. They thought I looked like Sugar Ray, so I always took on the Sugar Ray. When I was boxing, I was always trying to do what he was doing.”


Based on these formative experiences, it is not hard to understand how Williams became drawn at a very early age to professional boxing. One of his fondest professional boxing memories dates back to when he was 9 years old. In April of 1987, Williams watched the Sugar Ray Leonard/Marvin Hagler fight.


“I couldn’t wait for the Sugar Ray/Hagler fight even though I was going with Hagler,” Williams mused, “I was fighting like Sugar Ray, but I liked Hagler. I was going with him, and I was mad that Sugar Ray won. And even today I still got it 8-4. I got 8 rounds for Hagler. It should have been a 15 rounder. Hagler wanted the fight so bad that he basically let them [Sugar Ray’s team] make up all the rules. They fought with 10 oz gloves in a big ring and it was a 12 rounder. So basically, it was all Sugar Ray’s rules.”


Even though he was only 9 years old when he saw that fight, Williams learned by what happened to Hagler that there were two kinds of fighters: one kind of fighter he wanted to be…and the other kind, he didn’t.


drill3“Hagler? I just like the type of man he was,” Williams explained, “When he went into that ring and he was in shape, he just keeps on comin’. No matter what you do to him, he just keeps on wanting to fight. You couldn’t knock him out. You couldn’t hit him with a brick and knock him out. And just the way he looked. He was intimidating and he was fierce. He didn’t play no games in the ring. He didn’t mind fighting anybody. There was nobody that he would turn down. And he would just keep on coming…non-stop. He didn’t play any of those games or boxing around.”


He fought Duran and Hearns and he beat Duran and Hearns, and I thought he won the Sugar Ray fight, too,” Williams reflected. “But they tried to play him because he didn’t have the kind of charisma that Sugar Ray had. If he had the charisma that Sugar Ray had he could have been a much better fighter than he was…as far as marketing. But other than that, he was a straight fighter. Fighters like that are the ones I really kinda draw to, more than the made-up fighters. I can’t stand the made up fighters. Like De La Hoya, they gave him everything. Like Roy Jones. I don’t like Roy Jones too much.”


And while Williams figured out that he didn’t like made-up fighters, he figured out something much simpler that he didn’t like: the way his mom cut his hair.


“We didn’t go to the barber shop once,” Williams explained. “Our mom used to cut our hair…a bowl-cut. So I got tired one day of my mom cutting my hair, so I cut my own hair. And when I started cutting my own hair, I started cutting the hair of my brother. Then I started cutting hair of the people in the building and people who stayed in the neighborhood, and I started getting like 5 dollars for it. And I could draw designs in the back of your head because I could always draw. So I been cutting hair since I was a shorty, like 10 or 11.”


What I did then, is what I do now,” Williams reflected. “Fighting and cutting hair. That’s all I ever did my entire life.”


Knowing Williams today, his two most important gifts were revealed to him by the age of 11. One could say that this was the point in Williams’ life where his life experiences began to become “directly related.” By the fifth grade, he worked as an amateur barber, and as for fighting, he had already proven that he was a force to be reckoned with.


“I definitely fought a lot in elementary school,” Williams remembered. “Elementary school, junior high school…as a matter of fact, in fifth grade they were calling me the toughest kid in school. The thing was I always wanted to fight the toughest kid in school to figure out who the toughest kid really was. I always tried to fight him first. That’s how we came up. If you fought the toughest one, then you would be the toughest one. That was the proper heritage thing.”


But Williams would not get to test this “proper heritage” in the ring until nearly 12 years later. And until he would be able to make that decision to step into the ring, Williams would keep practicing “proper heritage” on the street. Before he was even 11 years old, Williams was introduced to gangs.


“Even before I moved over to Northside, I was affiliated because of family members,” Williams explained about his first experiences with gangs, “The people that you grow up with is who you call your family. People I was growing up with were always claiming gangs and stuff like that, so we were affiliated because of family. Even when I moved up to the Northside, we stayed connected because coming up with them, we called each other family because we knew each other better even than our own family. That’s why I have family out here now. It’s because I was raised up with these people.”


Over south, there’s a lot of Bloods over south,” Williams explained further. “There was a lot of Bloods over there, but I was never really with them. I know a lot of them from growing up and I still know a lot of them now, but a lot of them are in jail and other things happen, too. But some of them are still out there. We see each other and give each other a handshake or whatnot because we grew up with each other before stuff got real serious. Before when you grow up in the gangs, it was all about fighting. Growing up a little bit more, it started turning into shooting. You got your friends shooting at their friends. It’s people you know, so you are like, ‘Wow.’ It gets real ugly when it comes to that. Especially when you have a small community, everybody knows everybody. So if you grew up on one side of town, and now you move to another side of town, you have friends that are on opposite sides of this…and don’t like each other. But, it was like, I don’t want to be trading off for one side for the other. So, you really got to know what you are getting yourself into when you start getting into this stuff, man. We were people coming from the outside trying to get in…and that’s when people get hurt.”


When Williams was 15 years old he, his mother, and his half-brother moved to North Minneapolis. Not surprisingly, his life experience up to this time had already made him feel old beyond his years. And just as he was beginning to get “inside” with the people in his new neighborhood, Williams had his first son. He was 17 years old.


“Being out and having to do a lot of stuff at an early age, I felt like more of an adult before my time,” Williams said, “So when I was 17, I felt like I was grown. I felt that I could make money and take care of my kid, so I didn’t panic at all when I was having him. I just kept doing what I was doing. I thought if I can make money and take care of my son, that I was good. What I didn’t understand was that I had to be more of an example at the time. I was still getting in trouble back and forth, and I did some short stints in jail, but I wouldn’t get long time at all. I was getting caught for all types of little stupid stuff. I had a couple of weapons charges on my record there. I think I went to jail 3 times just for weapons. The first time I was 18.”


Very quickly afterward making money whatever way he could took precedent over his education. Williams dropped out of high school at 17. But he did not fall out into obscurity. In fact by the time he was 18, his face was on every news channel in the greater Twin Cities Area. Phil Williams had made headlines. And what was all this media attention for?


“It was an ugly incident,” Williams responded. ““We were just hanging out downtown because everyone was hanging out down there. At that time, downtown always something was happening. Some type of shooting or something crazy going on down there. There were rival gangs and all down there. That night, there was a lot of shooting going on.”


Once the shooting started happening, everybody started dispersing,” Williams explained about the events that evening. “There was a white dude, one bullet hit him right in his ass. That man pulled his pants down about a hundred times. Shots was fired and he was standing on the corner pulling his pants up and down over his ass. Then there was a bullet that bounced off the wall and hit a girl in the head, and there was a dude that got shot in the knee. They let the girl who got shot in the head and the dude who was shot in the leg go to the hospital. So they ended up being cool. They ended up being all right, but the one dude, his leg is still messed up to this day. He got caught right in his knee cap…so he still has a funny walk.”


After the shooting that evening, Williams was arrested by the police and taken to jail. The next morning when the guards turned on the television in the quad of Hennepin County Jail, Phil Williams saw himself on television being pushed into a cop car.


I saw myself on channel 4, 5, 9, and 11. I tried to curl. I was trying to hide my head,” Williams laughed, “I was getting pushed into the car and I thought, ‘Oh man!’”


“I saw the footage the next morning at about 6 o’clock in the morning…whenever it was that they turn the tv on in the morning,” Williams said. “When you are in the quad they turn the tv on for you. All they let you watch is news anyway. We were all laughing.”


There was another dude that got caught for another shooting, but he got caught further down the highway,” Williams further explained about his experience in jail. “He was shooting at somebody and he tried to get away from the police. He was trying to get away on the highway, and the car ended up turning over. So he was in there too and when he saw it, we ended up all laughing at it. There were two shootings in the same night, and me and this dude ended up getting locked up together. He did his shooting an hour before in the parking lot. So the police was already down there because they were looking for him, too. We got there about an hour after he did. So when they came down, we were standing on the corner. There was a lot of shooting going on down there right on the corner by Pizza Luce. That’s where most of the shooting happened…right there.”


Williams was released shortly thereafter due to a lack of evidence. But before he had a chance to explain himself, the neighborhood, his family, and even his old high school had gotten the newspaper reports which blamed him for the events that evening. At his old high school, Patrick Henry High, the principal held an assembly to discuss the crimes. But the biggest message of the event, and the one which got back to Williams, was the principal’s admonition to the students and their families:


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