In a world where the media makes sure you only hear about the elite athletes, here at Blaze we make it a point to take notice of the grind and dedication of the ones that aren’t talked about enough.
Texas based boxer, Oge Harwell and I have been randomly Facebook friends for some time (don’t we all have random Facebook friends) and I began to notice him training for his first professional boxing fight. I know of a few people that train here and there, as well as some that have fought in amateur competitions, but never someone wanting to take their boxing career to the next level.
Seeing that he won his first boxing match (2021-09-25) I instantly wanted to learn more and share what that journey is like taking a leap of faith, and believing in yourself to begin a pro career. Not just any pro career, but in the intense sport of boxing. I reached out to Oge to give us all some insight on this journey.
Malik Allen: First of all thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I was very excited about learning your journey leading to your first victory, and can’t wait to continue to follow you through your career. With that being said, what/who introduced you to training to be a boxer?
Oge Harwell: I’m blessed with a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. So about 3 years ago I was admitted into the hospital. I recovered from my exacerbation after a 2 week hospital stay. Doctors told me I didn’t have much life left based on how poorly I treated my health. I ran into Sammy Morones, the brother of my Coach/Promoter Rick Morones. Sammy happened to be wearing some gym gear and I just asked him how hard it was to join the gym. I just needed to lose a few pounds and get in shape. Sammy told me “everyone always talks about wanting to come to the gym and nobody shows up. If you’re not serious, don’t waste my time” so I showed up the next day and Rick made me feel like family. The gym was so close knit and family oriented.
M.A.: I can only imagine that being around a gym you were comfortable in, you had to be around people that took it very seriously. I’m sure one thing led to another and that conversation made it to you. Were you hesitant in the first conversation to start training towards a professional career, or did you always have that mentality?
O.H.: So my initial intention with boxing was just to get in shape. Nothing more. After going day in and day out I grew a love for the workouts and training and promised myself I needed one amateur fight. From there Rick helped me prepare and I lost both amateur fights I entered. After reaching the goal, but losing both amateur fights, I promised Rick and myself I wouldn’t quit until I won just one professional boxing match. I’m just blessed to have accomplished that goal on the first attempt!
M.A.: It’s good to know you didn’t give up, knowing you weren’t pro yet but still having the confidence to reach that level eventually. Adding to your reasons of staying in shape, and setting personal goals, on your Facebook status celebrating your first win, you wrote some personal notes about your “why” for competing at a high level. Stuff about who you did it for, the people that helped you on this journey and why your reason to fight and win was bigger than yourself. Anything more you would like to say to those trying to find their “why”?
O.H.: I’d like to tell anyone looking for a “why”, you have what it takes to get through every obstacle life has to offer. No matter how alone you feel, no matter how much the current struggle sucks, no matter how bad you want to give up. FIGHT. If you can’t do it for yourself. Do it for the people that love you. You never know who you’re inspiring. Your “why” is in there. You just gotta dig to find it!
M.A.: I have done some mixed martial arts training, but everything I know of fight training is mainly from videos. For the sake of people that just truly don’t know the process of preparing for a professional fight, how long did that take? And did you feel like there was more you needed to work on?
O.H.: Absolutely! I feel boxing is a sport where you’re always learning and growing. Everyday is a new lesson. Leading up to this fight I took on an 8 week strength and conditioning camp. 5am, 3 days a week we had strength and conditioning. And all 5 days during the week I worked at the boxing gym from 5pm-8pm. All after completing a full day’s work as a mortgage closer from 7-4. I feel like my cardio HAS to get better. I’ve gone back and dissected the fight and hands down my next training camp will include 10 times more running and skill based conditioning.
M.A.: I expected nothing less. Kudos to you for the discipline, and the determination for a regiment like that! So the last few days leading into your first fight, what was going through your mind? Nerves, confidence, what you would do after the fight?
O.H.: In all honesty I felt like I had the upper hand, I had no material for my opponent to study. On the other hand, I had access to my opponents previous fights. It sounds crazy when you say it, but I watched this man every night before bed so I could dream of how I’d beat him. I believed it, the moment I was presented with the fight. I knew I wasn’t going to lose. I made sure that I would do whatever it took, and in all honesty I prepared myself to die in that ring, that’s the only way I would allow myself to lose. So I approached this fight with the full belief and confidence that I wouldn’t fail.
M.A.: I feel like that’s usually the part of fighting professionally that the normal person underestimates is the mindset you have to be in to prepare yourself. Being distracted, being negative, being unprepared can be disastrous entering the ring. Following the last question, what’s going through your mind actually entering the ring for your first fight?
O.H.: Again, it sounds crazy. I left a note in my phone in case if I didn’t make it out of the ring. I said a prayer for protection. And I asked God to allow whatever man worked the hardest in training camp to come out victorious. Going into my ring walk, I honestly was just absorbing the energy of the crowd. Seeing all of my family and friends in the stands was surreal. I remember just repeatedly muttering to myself “Remember Why”.
M.A.: That gives me chills dude. Could only imagine the amount of support you felt in that moment before and eventually after your first win. Who do you give the most credit to for the win? Anyone else you would like to shout out along the journey?
O.H.: I have to give credit to my team. My coaches Rudy Enriquez and Fern Trujillo prepared me day in and day out. They pushed my body to limits I didn’t know I could reach. My sparring partners RuRu, Jermaine, Virgil, Tyrell, Joseph J. and Joseph H. Most of all I have to thank Rick Morones Jr. for putting me in such a successful position to showcase my skills.
M.A.: It sounds like you have a solid camp, and some solid people to move your career forward. Moving on to your next fight, how does it work with scheduling, are you involved in that process?
O.H.: I leave all things in Rick Morones Jr.’s hands. I know at the end of the day he’ll find the best fight and opponent for me. I keep my river on and once I get that call. I get to work.
M.A.: What’s some things you feel like you for sure have to work on chasing your second win?
O.H.: Definitely feel my head movement could be better. More so when I’m getting winded. I plan to tighten up 100 times better on cardio and conditioning to avoid gassing out in the later rounds.
M.A.: I feel like that’s how it should work, noticing your weaknesses while becoming your best self. What’s a few things that come to mind that you would say sets you apart from the average boxer?
O.H.: I’ve sparred professionals as an amateur, and I want to say my ability to bite down, grab my nuts and prove to the other fighter I’m tougher. You catch me with a big shot, I’m gonna smile, because you can’t hurt me. In the ring, I’m numb. I feel nothing. What sets me aside from most fighters, I prepare and accept that I may not come out of the ring every time I get in it. And not many people are willing to bite down as much as they lead you to believe.
What more can be said about Oge Harwell after his first professional victory as a boxer. In the grand scheme of things, everyone is fighting for something. A new promotion, a dream car, a starting spot on the basketball team, something. One thing that’s consistent, is determination, your why, faith, support and giving everything you got if it’s truly something you want. If Oge taught you anything, it’s that he is someone to keep on your radar. And if you run into him in the ring, good luck, cause I can vouch he wants to win more than you.
Photos provided by: Sbh Digital (@shotbyhimself)