By Phil Doherty
Photos: Sam Cohen
We all want to be the best at what we do; whatever our profession. It is an inherent human need to strive for the perceived glory commensurate with championship-level achievement. Unfortunately, the cold, mathematical reality of life dictates only the most infinitesimal percentage of us ever breathe such rarefied air. Does that mean the rest of us are to be considered failures Definitely not. The argument rightfully exists that a noble and more universal struggle to overcome these professional “deficiencies” can exalt the layman, the journeyman, the everyman. The sport of boxing consists of thousands of such men who continue to answer the bell and perform their job to the best of their abilities. They may never hold a world championship belt around their waists, but their efforts legitimize the lucky few who do. Fightnews recently had the opportunity to speak with one such fighter, Kissimmee heavyweight Jason “The Sensation” Gavern (19-7-4, 8 KOs).
Jason credits his family and his faith for providing him the strength to succeed in life.
We spoke to him from Punch Fitness gym in Deerfield Beach where he prepares to face Darnell “The Ding-a-Ling Man” Wilson (23-11-3, 20 KOs) on April 2nd at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter. Gavern headlines a 7-bout card titled: “Fight(s) for the Pink” to benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation to fight breast cancer.
Jason, it’s been almost a year since your draw against Johnathon Banks in May, 2010. How prepared do you feel for this fight coming up?
I’ve had a lot of transitions from the last fight to this fight. I’ve got a new manager. Now, I’m pretty much doing this full-time. In the past I was doing it kind of hit-and miss, but now I’m here full-time. I feel prepared; I took off about 4 to 5 months after the last fight, gained 30 lbs. and now I’m in the process of getting that back down to where we were back then.
What has your new manager, Thomas Hickey, done for your career at this stage?
Tom Hickey, to me is the first guy that looks out for me and my family. He’s a family man as well and he really cares about my well-being. He’s not like your typical “boxing people”. I’m really thankful he’s not that type of guy.
You will defend your WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation (CABOFE) belt at Roger Dean Stadium. You live in Kissimmee; do you feel a sort of “home-court” advantage?
Not really, when you get in that ring it’s all about who’s the better fighter, who trained harder. Maybe overseas in Europe, where they draw such huge crowds it makes a difference but not here.
You’ve served in the US Armed Forces as well as law enforcement for many years. How do you relate the similarities between these professions?
Well, the police department is a lot like boxing in that everything happens fast and quick. You could be driving down the street one moment and the next you’re in a shootout. Just like in the ring, you may be thinking you’re doing OK one moment and then you’re in trouble. The Army is similar in that you could be here in the States one moment and the next thing you know you’re in a war zone.
Jason, you’re 33 which used to be considered old for a fighter. However, 30 seems to be the new 20. How long do you intend to campaign in the sport?
I don’t know. I really don’t know what I’m doing after this fight. I intend to give it my all and try to win the fight but I’m also in Bible school now studying to become a pastor. I want to leave the sport on a good note, with my faculties intact. I’m really a day by day kind of guy you know? You never know what can happen, I could be gone tomorrow.
What do you make of the current heavyweight division?
All the champions are over in Europe with the Russians and Germans. The whole division seems to have moved to Europe. HBO won’t even show heavyweight fights anymore. That’s amazing to me. The heavyweights used to be the most recognized fighters on the planet. Here in the US, it’s wide open. I think Eddie Chambers Jr. may be the most recognized US heavyweight now. So I think it’s ripe for the taking here in the States.
Who were your boxing heroes growing up?
I loved to watch Emanuel Augustus (ne Burton). He had a cool style and was so relaxed in the ring. You know, people usually answer “Tyson” but that’s the typical answer. I never liked the typical guys. Emanuel had fun doing what he does and he was a “show” guy. And man, he could fight.
You’re training here at the Heavyweight Factory where your former opponent Johnathon Banks was training recently. How do you rate the facilities and sparring quality?
The Heavyweight Factory is awesome. It’s a great facility; probably one of the best I’ve ever trained in. They recently had Miguel Cotto here as well as Andy Lee. There’s a great variety of sparring available here. You could come in any day of the week and get whatever style you need.
Thanks Jason, good luck.