By Matt Thompson
Photo: Marty Rosengarten/RingsidePhotos.com
On Wednesday, August 14, DiBella Entertainment (DBE) and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s SMS Promotions return to B.B. King Blues Club and Grill for the latest edition of New York City’s Broadway Boxing series. Headlining the card is a heavyweight match up between popular New Yorker Tor Hamer (20-2, 13 KOs) and tough veteran Kertson Manswell (23-7, 17 KOs) of Trinidad and Tobago. Wednesday night marks only the second time Hamer will step into the ring since his tough loss to Vyacheslav Glazkov last December in a bout in which he retired after round four when he was unable to answer the bell.
Hamer recently sat down with Fightnews.com to lend some insight into his camp as he prepares to fight Manswell tomorrow night. The interview covered a wide range of topics to include life after boxing and what Hamer must do to get back into the top American heavyweight prospect conversation.
With less than a week to go before your bout against Kertson “The Pride of Tobago” Manswell, have you done anything differently this camp?
It hasn’t been all that different. Usually when I fight opponents, we focus on the things that I am already good at. We focus on my strengths and tune them up to make sure that I am in good shape. We set a good pace at this camp and worked on the things that I have been successful on in the past.
Within the local New York fight scene, you are known for your commitment and dedication to fitness. You and your trainer, Sean Razor, are in the gym all of the time, often incorporating a wide array of disciplines into your training regiment, such as swimming and cross-fit. What do you do differently, that gives you an edge?
I am not sure that I do all that much differently than many other fighters. The main thing and I think the reason that I have enjoyed a fairly lengthy career when the average fighter’s career is usually not that long is my consistency in the gym, that’s really it. Nothing special that I do, no secret or special technique. I just am always in the gym. I keep myself in reasonably good shape even when I don’t have a fight or when I am injured so that when I do have a fight I am ready.
As you pointed out, you are known for being in the gym in between fights. What keeps you motivated?
I am just a competitive person. I have an incredibly competitive spirit. I don’t like to lose.
The last 18 months have been quite a whirlwind for your career: last summer you traveled to London where you completely dominated the Prize Fighter Tournament, winning all of your bouts against impressive opposition. In your next bout, you blew past Dominique Alexander for a second round TKO. Then in December you suffered a tough loss against Vyacheslav Glazkov where you were unable to answer the bell after round four. In your first fight of 2013, you returned to victory lane with a convincing third round TKO over Maurenzo Smith. What has that stretch of time taught you and what did you learn from that tough loss that has made you a better fighter moving forward?
Every fight teaches you something different and it’s not just the actual bout itself. It is the process leading up to it and also how you recover after it. Each one of the fights that you mentioned brought something different to the table. Most importantly, the Glazkov fight was my first stoppage even though it was self-imposed. That fight definitely tested my mental toughness and my desire to continue in the sport. It is not easy in front of thousands of fans and the millions viewing at home to watch you quit on the stool. It is not easy to deal with. Especially when you have such commitment to the fans and you and your camp expected you to win. But learning how to deal with those kinds of failures and bouncing back and continuing to compete and train consistently, it is something can only make you stronger if you can fight through it. I think that process is very important and I have definitely gained a lot more respect for other athletes who consistently deal with losses on a more regular basis. For example, baseball players lose a bunch of games throughout the season. It is intense when everyone is watching you and paying attention to every move you make, your mistakes. Having the resiliency to bounce back is difficult. I think boxing is unique in that you don’t get that many chances to fail. It is not like you get a game the next day or the next week to redeem yourself. But, that being said it is important as a fighter to have the mental toughness to move on.
The heavyweight division has not seen many Americans enjoy much success over the last decade. In fact, the Klitschko brothers have long sat atop the division holding all of the belts. Can you tell American boxing fans when they can expect to see an American heavyweight champion and does Tor Hamer deserve to be legitimately mentioned in the discussion of great young and up and coming American heavyweights?
Well I can’t really make a strong argument for myself because I am still recovering from the tough loss to Glazkov last December and right now I am fighting opponents who are keeping me busy and are solid competition. These bouts are not propelling in the sport. I have to continue to keep fighting and earn fights against more accomplished competition and wait to see how I do. The good news for me is that the heavyweight division is wide open in my opinion and I am still relatively young. With regards to the other part of your question, a changing of the guard is coming. The Klitschkos have been great champions but they are not going to be around forever. They are going to retire at some point. They are getting older and have accomplished everything that there is to accomplish in the sport. Together they hold every belt and have made a lot a lot of money and short of fighting each other which they have made clear they aren’t going to do. So something will give. Either their bodies or their interest will cause them to retire. As far as an American coming up and securing a belt, it will likely be a vacated belt type situation even then there will only be a handful of guys making a run. The great part about it that there is going to be a lot of very interesting boxing to come out of it all. Your gonna have guys like Bryant Jennings, Deontay Wilder, Seth Mitchell—young hungry guys duking it out against the older yet still talented guys like Chris Arreola, the more experienced veterans of the division who still have a opportunity to A: be competitive and B: make money in the sport. There will be a lot of belts changing hands and there will be a lot of bouts that will be extremely competitive unlike now where you just have two guys just dominating the division. You can’t blame the Klitschkos for the lack of competition-it is not their fault-it just hasn’t been all that competitive of late in the heavyweight division and once they retire that will almost certainly change.
You’re 30 years old, you a have college degree, you’re an accomplished professional athlete and you’ve even done some modeling on the side. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but what might life after boxing have in store for Tor Hamer?
Well all that depends on how I leave the sport. With how much grace and how much money I leave the sport with. Many may know that one of my main hobbies outside of boxing is aviation and continuing to pursue aviation is one of real passions. As far as modeling or acting, it is just too inconsistent. You never know when your next job is coming. Any balance you might have from a normal 9 to 5 job, you rarely have modeling and acting early in your career.
You have a Harvard educated Father and a Villanova educated Mother and you have earned a bachelors degree from Penn State University. What was the conversation like when you went to them and said: “Mom and Dad I am going to be a professional boxer”?
Aaahhhhh-the same thing they’ve have always said. “Why?” (laughing) “It doesn’t make sense. You shouldn’t do it. Who put this idea in your head?”
And yet, they now are two of your biggest fans, often seen ringside at your bouts.
True, my Dad is a huge fan and my Mom is happy so long as I can pay my bills and I don’t get hurt. Although, she would still like me to do something else.
One last question, before we go. Most fighters will say that they take one fight at a time. Following your bout on Wednesday, have you and your camp given any thought to what you might do and who your next opponent might be following your fight against Kertson Manwell?
Actually yeah, there are a bunch of guys we’re looking at but the thing is because I am not what you would call the draw anymore, I am not a top prospect so much as I am now what you would call a high-class opponent with a lot of potential. I have to look at getting back to becoming the main attraction again. And the way you do that is you beat a more high profile fighter. So I try not to divulge in interview what my strategy is because you don’t know what is going to happen. For example, the outcome of last night’s match between Wilder and Liakhovich impacts the entire division. Additionally, I lost to a guy in Glazkov, who I truly think I should have beat. In fact, going into that fight I generally expected to win however, once I got in there I realized that I didn’t have anything going in there. In the end, I lost a fight that my camp and I thought I would win. And now a bunch of guys who prior to that loss were considering me as a viable opponent now consider me to be beneath them. So all that being said, I try not to predict the future, one punch changes everything. So I will wait to see what opportunities come and see how I am progressing, whether the money makes sense, all of that. And then I’ll make a decision-as you said, literally one fight at a time and the reason for that approach is that you don’t know what is going to happen, circumstances change all the time and very quickly.
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The Broadway Boxing Hamer vs. Manwell card is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and SMS Promotions. See the bout live at BB Kings Bar & Grill in Times Square on Wednesday August 14. Tickets are available for purchase by calling the DiBella Entertainment office at (212) 947-2577. SNY will broadcast the event tape-delayed.