Rashiem Jefferson’s Life’s All About “Second Chances”!
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Rashiem Jefferson’s Life’s All About “Second Chances”!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 12, 2014)

Rashiem “Rich & Famous” Jefferson
Rashiem “Rich & Famous” Jefferson
Philly’s Rashiem “Rich & Famous” Jefferson was a Junior Olympic champion in 1997-98, a 2-time National Golden Gloves Champion from 2000 to 2002 and ended his amateur career 103-13. In spite of this there were two things he couldn’t beat, a bullet from a drug dealer and a career ending motorcycle accident that broke his neck ending his professional career at 15-1-1 (6) in 2008.

In 2012 Jefferson was given a “new lease on life” in boxing by becoming a trainer for several of manager Mark Cipparone’s boxers as he assisted Raul “Chino” Rivas, the head trainer at the Gut’s & Glory Gym in W. Berlin, NJ (ran by Rivas and Adrienne Soto). The two also manage Camden, NJ, boxer Jason Sosa, 11-1-3 (7) and Philly’s Anthony Burgin, 5-0 (1).

“Rashiem has been a nice addition to our team and he is eager to learn as much as he can. He spends a lot of time working with the kids and they respond well to him. It’s inspiring even though his career as a boxer tragically ended he can still use his talent in the sport to help others,” said Soto.

A man of “second chances” Cipparone now heads Club 1957 Management along with owning 5 Rocco’s Collision Centers with him being based out of Blackwood, NJ, and centers in both NJ and Philly. His boxers include featherweight Tevin “American Idol”, Farmer, 15-4-1 (3) who has won 8 straight under his management, flyweight Miguel “No Fear” Cartagena, 11-0 (4), featherweight Eric “Outlaw” Hunter, 17-3 (9), and recently signed super featherweight Teon “The Technician” Kennedy, 19-2-2 (7), all from Philly. “For one thing Rashiem is a great person. He helped improve my career. He stayed at my house and we got to know each other. So he got me running and after fights I now feel great. He’s willing to learn and hopefully someday he becomes a chief trainer and has world champions”, said Farmer.

“Mark is like my father and treats me like a son and is a great friend. I appreciate what he’s done for me in boxing and friendship,” said Jefferson. You could see the closeness between both. “My goal is to make a world champion with Farmer and Cartagena while learning all I can. I also go to Bozy’s Gym (Bozy Ennis at Germantown section of N. Philly) and train his young son Jeron,” said Jefferson. Ennis is one of the most respected trainers in Philly and also trains his other 2 sons “Pooh” and Farah, both good professionals. “When Bozy is ready to close the gym I’m usually still working with the kids and he says let’s go little Rocco,” said Jefferson.

At age 16 Jefferson lied about his age saying he was 17 in order to go to the nationals in 1999. He lost in the finals to future world champion Brian Viloria. He also split in 2 fights with future world champion Nonito Donaire.

In 2003 Jefferson was on the way to looking to win a US National Championship when he was shot 2 days prior to this happening. He was drawing attention riding his motorcycle in a crime ridden area when a drug dealer warned him about it. Jefferson knocked him down with a punch but before he knew it he was shot just 1 inch from his heart. He was able to run away for a distance before another boxer, Wahid Rahim saw him full of blood. Jefferson was able to get to a hospital quick enough to save his life.

Poster image from Jefferson's fighting days.
Poster image from Jefferson's fighting days.
L-R: Mark Cipparone, Tevin Farmer, Rashiem Jefferson, Raul "Chino" Rivas.
L-R: Mark Cipparone, Tevin Farmer, Rashiem Jefferson, Raul "Chino" Rivas.
Jefferson would turn professional in August of 2004 stopping Margarito Lopez, 8-10-1, of Mexico in 2 rounds in Glen Burnie, MD. The next month he won all 4 rounds over Othoniel Espinosa, 2-4, of Colorado in Philly. Just 19 days later back in Glen Burnie he fought Yamin Mohammad, 2-5, of OH. After winning the 1st round both fighters threw a right hand at the same time with Mohammad’s getting there first and down went Jefferson. He was up quickly but it cost him the round 10-8.

Jefferson bounced back in the 3rd round but suddenly had a point taken from him by referee Gary Camponeschi for low blows. It looked unwarranted and Jefferson ended up with a 9-9 round. He tried for a knockout in the final round which didn’t come but he won the round to gain a draw with all 3 judges scoring it 37-37 as did this writer. The one point reduction cost him the fight.

The following month Jefferson defeated Barbaro Zepeda, 2-2 of Mexico. That was 4 fights in just 2 months In January in North Carolina he scored his first stoppage, in the 1st round over Kenneth Barr, 1-2. The following month he scored another 1st round stoppage over veteran Pasqual Rouse, 15-10-3, of DR, in CT. After scoring another stoppage in April he had his first of 2 bouts with Carlos Diaz, 9-4-3, of PR, taking the decision in June of 2005 over 4 rounds, in Tampa, FL.

In August he stopped Ubaldo Olivencia, 5-8-3, of PR, in the 4th of a 6 at the Hammerstein Ballroom, in NY. He would take his 9-0 record some 6 months later in February of 2006 again in NC, winning a 10 round decision over Elvis Luciano Martinez, 10-14-2, of DR, for the vacant USNBC Super featherweight title. Just 3 months later he would have his second fight in his hometown of Philly defeating Manuel Perez, 6-0, of HI, in a USNBC title defense. It would be 7 months before ending the year defeating veteran Armando Cordoba, 23-30-2, of Panama at Valley Forge, PA, over 6 rounds.

Jefferson would return to the ring 5 months later in May of 2007 in a rematch with Diaz, 9-8-4, defeating him over 8 rounds at Hammerstein Ballroom. Just 16 days later he defeated Julio Coronal, 21-25-1, of Colombia, stopping him in 3 rounds in Louisville, KY. The following month he won a hard fought 8 round decision over tough Carlos Vinan, 7-3-2, of Ecuador, in CT. In October he defeated Juan Manuel Matias, 8-7, of DR, over 6 rounds in Louisville.

It would be another 6 months before fighting again at the National Guard Armory in April of 2008 in NE Philly, for the vacant USBA featherweight title against tough Mexican Jose Hernadnez, 10-6-1, out of GA.

As this writer who was covering at ringside saw it Jefferson tried to man handle a stronger Hernandez for 3 rounds. After 5 rounds of a scheduled 12 Jefferson seemed to hold a slight edge. An accidental head butt caused a cut on the forehead of Hernandez in the 5th round. In the 6th round near the ropes referee Eddie Cotton ruled what looked like a throw down by Hernandez a knockdown. After 9 rounds the knockdown seemed to be the only difference between them. In the 11th what seemed like a slip was again ruled a knockdown by Cotton against Jefferson. It caused several upset fans to throw several beer cans at Cotton.

Between the 2 so-called knockdowns by the end of the round Jefferson looked completely spent and it may have been wise not to allow him out for the final round. It had been 2 years since he went 10 rounds. At 1:49 of the 12th round Hernandez finally scored what was a legitimate knockdown as Jefferson was dropped face down. Though he was able to get back on his feet he was taken to his dressing room forced by being put on a stretcher. Little did the crowd know it would be the final fight of Jefferson’s short career in April of 2008!

Before returning to the ring Jefferson suffered a broken neck and head injuries on a motorcycle at Indiana & Clearfield streets in North Philly. In an attempt to return to the ring I remember Jefferson training at Bozy Ennis’ gym. He even went to Minnesota in June of 2011 to spar with Jason Litzau for one of the latter’s upcoming fights.

By this time Jefferson knew he would never return to the form he once had and decided to work with kids, especially his son Rashiem, Jr. “They need respect and discipline,” said Jefferson.

“I’m still pushing and going not as a fighter but as a trainer to help others. Mark scouts out fighters and looks for my approval,” said Jefferson. You can see they work as a team. “If I’m going to sign a fighter Rashiem should know him. He’s part of Club 1957. His advice is professional and not based on friendship. I count on him. I’m never stuck because he will fill in,” said Cipparone.

After seeing Farmer train Jefferson was asked to help out. “The way Tevin Farmer works so hard how could I turn him down?” Farmer has been unbeaten under Cipparone’s management winning his last 7 fights. “Rashiem slept for 6 weeks at Tevin’s place making him run and keeping him straight for the Victor Vasquez fight. I think that was Tevin’s re-birth. Rashiem got him up when he didn’t want to and made him do sprints,” said Cipparone.

“Rashiem is very dedicated. Put’s in a lot of work and is a good listener. Eventually he will have his own fighters and teach his way. I love teaching him. He is great working with kids and has a great personality. I like him as a person and he’s an overall good guy,” said Rivas.

Besides super featherweight’s Sosa and Burgin as you can see there are 6 boxers with 5 of them between 126 and 130 so they always have someone of quality to spar with. Even Cartagena at 112 or 115 gets some sparring in with the others.

Between Jefferson and Rivas the boxers at Gut’s & Glory Gym have a wealth of talent improving with each fight. Jefferson has proved not even a bullet or a broken neck could keep him down after getting a “second chance” on life!

Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: kenhissner@gmail.com

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