By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: "You don't know what you've got til it's gone" - Joni Mitchell.
Hartman always loved boxing. He didn’t realize how deeply until he faced
the possibility of never lacing up the gloves again. Hartman started
fighting professionally at the age of 20. He won his first five fights.
The streak ended when he faced Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2006. Hartman
lost his next two bouts. The losses bothered him deeply. As an amateur,
he had beaten future world champion Nonito Donaire and super
middleweight contender Anthony Dirrell.
In 2010, Hartman's life was turned upside
down. A major automobile accident injured him severely. His boxing
record at the time was 11 wins and 16 losses.
Recovering in the hospital after the accident, a doctor told Hartman he’d
never fight again. The fighter in him didn’t believe it. He longed for
another chance. He knew he hadn’t trained properly for many of his
fights. He started to write about boxing. The quiet time took him away
from the pain of not fighting. Hartman worked hard during his recovery.
He wanted back in the ring. He was determined to right some of his
After almost three years, he returned to boxing. He knocked his opponent
out in two rounds. Victory was his, but more importantly, he was back
doing what he loves, and getting a second chance.
In a wide-ranging interview, Hartman discusses his past, present, and future goals for his second boxing career.
John Raspanti: You've been away from boxing for close to three years. Why come back?
Travis Hartman: I was out of boxing from
Dec. of 2009 until I fought again March 31, 2012. That isn’t even a real
question to me; "why come back to boxing"? The question is why not! I
love boxing to the core. I am a true die hard boxing fan as well as a
competitor. I came back to boxing because my body started feeling
healthy again. Thank God. I put on 32 pounds in the two years I was off
from boxing. I was miserable. I was borderline depressed. I have been
boxing since I was six years old. The sport was ripped out of my hands
from powers out of my hands. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to
deal with. During my two years off, I
was able to look back at my career from the outside in. I realized how
pathetic, undertrained, and underprepared I was for almost every one of
my pro fights. I let my talent go to waste. It was an even harder pill
to swallow knowing that I would never be able to compete again. Doctors
advised me not to fight, but I am stubborn. I half way accepted it, but
in the back of my mind I never wanted to believe it. It was an
experience most fighters never get, stop halfway through their career,
look back, and reassess and regroup. That is what I did during my break.
I took a positive from all the stuff that had happened. I could have
laid down and accepted it. That isn’t me. I’m not a quitter. Yes, I
fought some top-notch guys, but I fought them unprepared. I made myself
look silly. I showed everyone in the boxing world the horrible side of
me as a professional. I have never been knocked out in any of my losses.
JR: You won your first five fights. Tell me about the JC Chavez Jr. fight.
TH: My professional boxing career is full
of excuses, mostly on my part. When you make excuses, you wind up with a
lopsided record like mine. I was ready for the Chavez Jr. fight. I had
somewhere around three-to-four weeks to train for the fight. When I
arrived in Texas the first day I must have came down with some sort of
flu or sickness because I was throwing up and breaking out in cold
sweats. I had the worst headaches leading up to the weigh-in. My weight
even showed this. I came in at an all time low of my career, 134 pounds.
Chavez came in at 140. I even looked physically drained almost as soon
as the fight started. I did ok while I was able to box. But, as soon as I
became fatigued and drained I set in front of Chaver Jr. My
father knew I was sick and did the right thing. In the third round, he
threw in the towel to save me from unnecessary punishment. I will have a
life after boxing and my father/coach knew that. Bits and pieces of
that fight are on YouTube.
JR: You lost three in a row (including Chavez) but you won your next two fights. What was your mindset at that point?
TH: You know, in that string of losses it
was a very trying time for a young kid like me. I was no older than 22
and not used to losing. I went 156-13 as an amateur boxer over a 14-year
career with three national titles intertwined in my career. I even beat
guys like Nonito Donaire and Anthony Dirrell as an amateur. It was also
very frustrating because the last of those three losses in a row was a
very unfair circumstance. I traveled to Louisiana to fight an undefeated
hometown kid. I wasn’t scared to travel to his back yard to fight him.
That is what I am, a fighter. I was beating this kid to the punch. I was
having my way with him until the fourth round when he hit me with one
of many low blows. He had hit me with many low blows leading up to that
point and I just tried to power through them and fight. The last low
blow forced me to take a knee. He then hit me with a four-punch
combination to the side of my temple. I went down and surprisingly the
referee started counting. He counted me out. I was unable to gain my
wits back in a ten-second period. The entire hometown crowd booed their
own fighter. I won every round on two of the three judge’s scorecards up
to that point. Fightnews even wrote a small article on the fight. The
judges after the fight even came up to me and reassured me that I was an
amazing boxer and they have no idea what that referee were thinking.
The referee even later admitted that if I had got up he would have taken
a point from the other fighter. My question is the referee said Aucoin
never did anything wrong, but in a post fight interview he said
if I would have gotten up, and trust me if I could of gotten up I would
have, he would have taken a point away from the fighter. That is when I
almost threw the towel in on my pro
JR: I recently watched the Paez fight. Was the decision a fair one?
TH: I think I could have done more. But
honestly, if that fight was in my hometown it would have been ruled a
draw. It was a competitive close fight as you can tell by the videos on
YouTube. I am not a judge, so I can’t say I was robbed. It was a good
fight and I actually made a good showing on an HBO PPV fight on a big
stage like that.
JR: You fought fighters with a combined 56-5 record in 2007. Why take on so many hot fighters in a row?
TH: I was tired of the politics and
business of boxing. I started fighting the top undefeated fighters for
the money. I sold out. I wasn’t prepared. I was taking fights on three
to five days notice with little to no training. It was an embarrassment
on my part. That is why this time around I am doing things the right
way. We added a new trainer to the mix. I am doing different things in
training. I am actually training and living like a professional athlete
is supposed to, thanks to Marcos Ramirez, a former top fighter in the
world and one of my friends. We have a great relationship in the gym as
well as out of the gym.
JR: Can you explain the details of your automobile accident?
TH: I can’t
really going into specifics due to an ongoing legal matter. However, I
can explain what happened. I was scheduled to fight on an ESPN2
undercard in Texas for Oscar De La Hoya’s GoldenBoy promotions on Feb.
26, 2010. Exactly one week before I was supposed to fight, I was driving
into the hospital to get all my necessary medical exams completed in
order to fight, and get licensed as a professional boxer in Texas. It
was a Friday around noon. I was less than seven miles away from my house
in Osborn, where I popped over a hill and a Miller Lite. I saw a diesel
was overturned, blocking both lanes of the highway. I was the first car
to come up on the scene and I was able to stop and keep control of my
car, yet right before I was almost completely stopped, a car hit me from
the rear traveling approx. 55 mph. My car and the other car ricocheted.
JR: Do you think you're a better and smarter fighter? Or is all about health?
TH: I say yes to all of those questions. I
am living healthier, working harder and have this undeniable love and
respect for the sport that I had taken for granted for song long since
turning pro. It was like the two years I was wasn’t boxing. It totally
recharged me and made me a meaner, harder working athlete. My body has
never felt better than it does today. Sure, I have to do some extra
things to help keep my neck healthier and not as sore, but in my mind,
it’s worth it, period.
JR: Give me some details on your writing and broadcasting work.
TH: I’ve been writing for the
ringsideboxingshow.com for over two years now as well as serving as an
on air expert analysis. I have also worked as a sports writer for the St. Joseph News-Press for
almost four years in St. Joseph Missouri. It’s something that I want to
pursue heavily after my career, as a boxer is gone. I want to be an on
air TV broadcaster doing blow-by-blow for some major boxing network. I
am getting all the experience I can while still competing.
JR: I want to thank you Travis. Good luck in the future.
TH: Thank you very much John.
Follow and visit John on Twitter: twitter.com/#!/johnboxing1
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