Calvin Brock is not your typical heavyweight prospect, and in fact, he’s not your typical anything. The former banker, current heavyweight prospect, and future professional tap dancer is not at all what one would expect when hearing about a man who can render another man unconscious with a single blow. But that’s exactly what Brock did to poor Jim Strohl almost a year ago in Atlantic City on the Gatti-Ward III undercard, collecting his 15th win on the way to his current 19-0 mark (17 knockouts). Given the recent struggles of heavyweight hopefuls Joe Mesi and Dominick Guinn, Brock, 29, hopes to emerge as the next American hope, one with a chance of claiming the true heavyweight championship of the world, held by Vitali Klitschko.
Brock, unlike many others who were preordained into boxing, was the first fighting member of his family. Brock’s introduction to boxing was totally by chance, and he hasn’t forgotten to this day what first piqued his interest.
“My aunt’s ex-husband, back in 1983 when I was 8 years old, gave me two pairs of gloves for a Christmas present,” Brock remembers. “I would box with my friends in my friend’s back yard. I loved it. They would get tired of it, and I wanted to keep going. So once I ran out of friends who wanted to box with me, I told my dad I wanted to make a career out of it. My parents wouldn’t let me do it until I was 10, but when they took me to the gym at age 10, the trainer told me to come back at age 12 because he didn’t like to start kids that young, and that a lot of times it was a waste of his time.” Being the first family member to box had to be tough, right?
“At first, my parents didn’t feel too good about it, they were very apprehensive about letting me box,” Brock says. “Then I lost my first four boxing matches, after my first and fourth fights they told me to quit, that I wasn’t cut out for it. I felt that God put boxing in my heart and told me that I would be successful at it. After nine months, my dad became my coach and he had never boxed before. He ordered a coaching instructional tape and started that way and became a full time coach at the PAL, which he stopped in 1994. He was my coach throughout my amateur career and he still is my coach when I’m training in Charlotte, where I live. I’m also working with Tommy Yenkello in Pittsburgh, where I am now, in training camp.”
While learning his trade in the gym, Brock would also learn another trade in the classroom, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in finance from Charlotte University. He would accept a position with Bank of America as an Operation Call Analyst, in charge of making sure each call center for the bank had the proper volume.
All the while, Brock took his meager beginnings in boxing to a greater level, compiling a 147-38 record on his way to making the 2000 Olympic team. At those games, however, Brock would lose in the first round, and he now cites overtraining as the culprit.
“The coach took a 12 man team, from 12 different coaches, and tried to train everybody the same way. That’s ignorant,” Brock says emphatically. “You can’t train everybody the same way when everybody has their own way of preparing themselves. He ran me too much, training three times a day, not enough rest, with too many meetings. When you wake up in the morning, you are going until 9 o’clock night. It was just too much, six days a week, and that’s why I lost.”
Brock then sought spiritual guidance in his decision to turn professional. His religious faith is something that was instilled in him at an early age, and remains a part of him today. He is an usher at the Victory Christian Center, where he and his family attend weekly services.
“God spoke to me and to my spirit and told me that I was going to be very successful in boxing, and to let his light shine through me,” Brock recalls. “He wants me to be a big giver in everything, and to be a role model for Christ. He has stood behind me and supplied my needs.”
As a fighter in the paid ranks, Brock has rattled off 19 straight wins without a loss, with 17 of those coming inside the distance. Only one man out of the 18 different men he has faced has gone that distance, a man named Antonio Colbert, who went four and six rounds with Brock before losing decisions in each instance. Brock is without question a true puncher, but that is not his only strength.
“My speed and my experience as an amateur and as a pro are my biggest strengths,” Brock says. “I know what to do and when to do it. Above all that, I have the best trainer in the world who has improved me all around fundamentally, strategically, and with ring generalship. Whatever has to be done, I can do.”
What he has to do now is get by a new opponent, undefeated Terry Smith of Arkansas, on May 15 in a bout to be televised nationally by NBC. Originally, Brock was scheduled to face Sergei Lyhakovich, and undefeated Russian prospect, but Sergei pulled out and in stepped Duncan Dokiwari. Dokiwari, you may recall, put up a spirited effort in losing a ten round decision to Dominick Guinn. Dokiwari would change his mind and pull out of the fight, leaving Smith to face Brock on extremely short notice. Brock says the late replacements do not faze him.
“It didn’t affect my mentality or training at all, because I was training how I was training,” says Brock. “I’m in great shape, and I asked God to bless me with whatever opponent would be the best step toward becoming the heavyweight champion of the world, and making me look the best and come out victorious. Besides, at this level now, I feel that I can beat anybody in the world, all the title holders and everybody in the top ten.”
As for fighting for the first time on NBC?
“I feel that this is the biggest blessing in the world. It’s not the money that HBO puts out, but that’s the way all the greats came up, on network television, especially the former Olympians. I’m taking the same route they are, I’m going to be a success and get exposure very quickly.”
The 6’2 and 228 pound Brock is one of the few remaining undefeated prospects who hails from the United States. In a sense, he may the “Great American Hope” in light of Guinn’s recent loss to Monte Barrett and with Joe Mesi’s career seemingly in limbo at the moment. None of that really matters to Brock, because no matter who it is, he feels he is perfectly capable of beating them.
“I think I can beat them all,” Brock proclaims. “Nobody thought too much of Oquendo and John Ruiz, and they didn’t show me anything. Chris Byrd is very good, he doesn’t bring the power but he has a good defense. He’s a lot harder to fight than people give him credit for. Even Ruiz is a better fighter than people give him credit for, but I don’t see myself having a problem with either one of them. As far as Vitali Klitschko, I think he’s good, but I think he’s very beatable. Of all the guys at the top of the heavyweight division, I think James Toney is the best, the slickest and most fundamentally sound. So I think he would beat Klitschko and I think Roy Jones would as well. I think I would also when I get my chance, because I would knock him out.”
That may be, but the heavyweight division needs something new, something that has been lacking for quite awhile now. Brock says he has exactly what the division needs.
“I’m fresh, I’m undefeated, and I’m very technically sound,” Brock says. “You’ll have to see for yourself and I’m going to show it to the world on May 15. I have everything it takes. I have knockout power and when I get into the ring, I’m not just looking to win, I am looking to knock my opponent out. I get better as the rounds progress, and that is all what the people want to see. That’s what people see in Sugar Ray Leonard, that’s what people see in Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler and Mike Tyson. That’s what I’m bringing to the table, along with a new generation like the Klitschko brothers. They have PhD’s, DaVarryl Williamson has a master’s degree, I have a Bachelor’s degree in the corporate world, and I am a tap dancer.”
What of this tap dancing? Brock says that this is what he wishes to do for a living once his boxing career is over, and if one listens to the passion with which Brock speaks on the subject, it cannot be doubted that he will be a success at that as well.
“ I want to own my own dance school, and my own line of fitness centers, and I’m getting ready to become a professional tap dancer real soon. Ever since I knew tap dancing existed, I wanted to be a tap dancer. I remember at age 7, I used to tap dance in my shoes on my mom’s kitchen floor. I never had the time, and to my friends, tap dancing was just a phase I was going through. With boxing, going to school, and working with Bank of America, I never had time. When America Presents went out of business, that’s when I took the time to start taking tap lessons. After seven months, I had advanced to a five year level because I was just that talented. I worked hard at it, and now I’m ready to go pro.”
As for now, however, Brock must take care of the business in front of him, namely Terry Smith. Providing that he is successful in that May 15 bout, he wants Hasim Rahman. As Brock says, he wanted Rahman for the upcoming bout, but the “Rock” was unavailable due to financial considerations.
“I would take him for the fight after this fight, whether it be on NBC, HBO or wherever as long as the money is right because I’m a professional banker and things have to make business sense,” says Brock. As for where he may be headed otherwise, Brock makes it very clear. “God always came through for me. I am where I am today, getting ready for this fight on May 15 and to become heavyweight champion of the world, because of Him.”
A banker and tap dancer who wants to be the heavyweight champion of the world? Definitely not your typical heavyweight prospect.