|On the Quest for Olympic Gold; Clarence Tillman
INTERVIEW By Jason Petock (Jan 19, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
Promising twenty eight year old Olympic hopeful Clarence Tillman is no stranger to adversity or challenges in life outside of the squared circle. A Heavyweight fighter hailing originally from New Orleans’ 7th ward who resides in Houston, Texas now, he was a first hand witness to the ravages that Hurricane Katrina wreaked upon his beloved city. But much like his hometown, which rose above disaster and tragedy to triumph and rise from the debris, so too has Tillman taken a negative and made it a positive. His experiences have made him that much stronger as a person and a boxer, leading him on the aspiring and demanding path that he has chosen through boxing. Clarence is a true example of strength and determination and what it takes to succeed not only in boxing but also in everyday existence. As he continues on his quest for 2008 Olympic gold by entering the Olympic Games selection process, he is an example to us all to never surrender our dreams or desires no matter what we fear or must face.
Clarence played college football for North Carolina Central University effectively showcasing himself as an accomplished athlete while working on obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in History, which he plans on completing in the immediate future
. His natural athleticism has followed him into “The Sweet Science” as he strives for his goals. If you are a boxing fan you need to keep an eye out for Clarence, because he will be a name that you will definitely hear tons more from in the future as he breaks into the ranks. He was generous enough recently to grant me this exclusive interview with him which I would like to share with the rest of you at this time. Here is what he had to say straight from Houston, Texas.
JP: How did you first become interested in boxing and what initially motivated you to step into the ring?
CT: I first got interested in boxing because my father was an amateur boxer. So he was who motivated me.
JP: So you became interested and caught the bug?
JP: What gym are you training out of right now and who is your trainer?
CT: Savannah Boxing Club is where I train at and Hylan Williams is my trainer.
JP: A lot of the public outside of Louisiana have no idea what it was really like in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Could you describe your experience?
CT: I actually got out before it hit, my brother and I, but my sisters stayed. So in the aftermath of Katrina we didn’t know where they were. All the phone lines were down at that time. One of my sisters ended up in Dallas and the other one was in Fort Meyers, Florida. Many people are still being affected by it right now. I mean their financial situations, everything. People are still going through all kinds of things because of Katrina.
JP: Do you feel that having been a football player in college helped prepare you both mentally and physically for a career in boxing?
CT: Well I think it prepared me more mentally because I’ve been in those tough situations before where I had to play and use that strength and adapt to each situation. And in boxing you have to be prepared more mentally because one mess up or false move and it’s a wrap.
JP: As you get ready to enter the Olympic Games selection process for 2008, what do you think will be your greatest challenge?
CT: Right now I think I’ve already overcome my biggest challenge. I fought in the PAL in California and I showed that I could fight on the same level as those guys and be competitive.
JP: What is your opinion on the current state of the Heavyweight Division and where do you think you fit into that picture in the future?
CT: I don’t think it’s that bad. I just think that the best fighters aren’t fighting each other. And I think that the younger Heavyweights really, really have a chance as far as stepping it up and getting themselves into the picture. I mean the best Heavyweight fighters out there aren’t really doing anything, and maybe it’s because 90% of the potential talent out there is playing football or basketball instead. Boxers that are maturing and coming up as Heavyweight talent are fighters like Estrada, guys like that.
JP: And you’re part of that too man, the next wave of Heavyweight talent.
CT: This generation’s different now. I don’t really see anybody dominating the division. I mean you don’t see anyone dominating like when Mike Tyson was coming out, you know what I mean? He was just so dominating; I don’t see anyone like that.
JP: He was just a phenomenon man.
CT: Look at Klitschko. He hasn’t fought a lot of tall guys or guys his size.
JP: I bet if you took a prime Tyson and a prime Klitschko, Tyson would eat him alive.
CT: Definitely. He would get rid of him quick.
JP: If you had to describe your style and strengths in the ring what would you say?
CT: I think my jab is my biggest asset. I remember my trainer telling me the importance of the jab. Always reminding me to work the jab, work the jab, and work the jab. So like I said my jab is my best asset. A lot of heavyweights don’t have a jab.
JP: Are there any boxers that you admire or look up to?
CT: Current or past?
CT: Well from the past I really like Pernell Whitaker and Julian Jackson. Right now probably Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Wladimir Klitschko. The only reason I say Wladimir Klitschko is because he is the most recognized right now in the Heavyweight division. But I mean with Jackson one punch and it’s over.
JP: If you could fight any fighter out there who would it be and why?
CT: Amateur or professional?
JP: It could be either man, it’s your choice. Even both if you want.
CT: I would really like to fight Michael Hunter (laughs). He’s who I lost to in the PALS.
JP: Well you’ll see him eventually down the road (laughs). He’ll have to see you sometime.
CT: Yeah, if I had my choice that’s who I would want to fight.
JP: Best of luck to you Clarence on your quest for Olympic Gold. You have all the tools and then some that you need for success and you’re already well on your way. At this time is there anything else you would like to say to your fans, the public, or the media?
CT: People need to support amateur boxing and professional boxing in any way they can. Thank you for your time.
JP: Thank you Clarence.
Readers, promoters, media, other fighters, and fans can contact Clarence Tillman at either his e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by checking out his MySpace page at: www.myspace.com/tillman78 as he embarks on his Olympic boxing journey. Good luck Clarence.
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