Ten days remain until Mt. Vernon resident Rob Garris makes his historic pro boxing debut on December 8 at the New Resort World Casino in Jamaica, New York after a 27-year hiatus from the ring. The 47-year old former amateur fighter has been training for twelve years to reach this unprecedented point in his determined fight for foster children.
Garris, a former foster child who was given up by his mother at birth, became a dedicated advocate for neglected and abused foster children after his dreams to pursue a boxing career were dashed in 1985 when he suffered a ruptured artery in his nose while sparring for the Golden Gloves. A professional barber by trade, Garris later founded the Throwaway Kids Foundation in 2004 to assist foster children of all ethnic backgrounds and support efforts to reunite them with their biological families.
When the injury to Garris' nose was subsequently repaired thanks to modern medical technology, he embarked upon a comeback to boxing as a means to raise funds to help unite more families. Garris first began training in 2000 for an exhibition bout that was eventually held in May 2007 when he was 42 years old.
The personal sacrifices and grueling training did not stop there.
Committed to inspiring foster children to believe in themselves and never give up on their faith and dreams, Garris forged ahead with plans to fight professionally despite the toll it has taken on his body to get into fighting shape at this stage of his life. In addition to the work he puts in at the Mt. Vernon Boxing Club, Garris' training has included daily three-and a half mile runs under any and all weather conditions (including the morning before Hurricane Sandy hit the New York area later that day) and rigorous strength and conditioning exercises three times a week.
"It's given me the mental edge. There is no reason to doubt myself or hold back," said Garris who believes he is a better all-around fighter now than he was 30 years ago.
The vigor of training over the past 12 years is about to pay off as Garris, now 47, prepares to enter the ring for the first time as a professional after a 27-year absence from sanctioned competition, the longest known hiatus from amateur to pro status. It is an achievement that Garris, who would like to fight by the nickname "Children's Champ", firmly believes will lift and inspire those in the foster care system.
"Ten years from now, a foster kid can Google that one of their own set a record and accomplished something that had never been done," a committed Garris told Boxing 101.
The proceeds from the fight will go towards his foundation and fund a nationwide charity boxing tour to commence next year. Garris intends to have only two or three professional fights to raise enough money and gain sponsorship for this tour that will include speaking engagements at youth shelters and other foster care facilities throughout the country.
To add to the significance of the evening, it will mark the first time that Garris' entire family will come together to watch him fight. His supporters will include his adopted family, members of his biological family that he found in 2008 and his in-laws.
Garris will make his pro debut as a light heavyweight at 175 pounds against 38-year old Queens fighter Abdellah Smith (1-4, 1 KO). Another inspirational figure in Dewey Bozella, recipient of the 2011 Arthur Ashe Courage Award, will work the corner with trainer Robert Green and cutman Richie Schwartz.
In honor of his idol Muhammad Ali, Garris will once again wear white shorts with a black stripe reminiscent of those worn by "The Greatest" during "The Thrilla in Manilla". Garris also developed a catchphrase that closely resembles the one used by the legendary heavyweight.
"I glide like a butterfly, I zap him like a bee. I'm never too old to dance like Ali.
"Because I'm gonna' dance that night. I'm ready."
A comeback is not always a bad thing in boxing.
Come out and support Rob in his historic and selfless fight on December 8 at the New Resort World Casino, 110-00 Rockaway Blvd. in Jamaica, New York starting at 6:00 PM. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased by contacting Rob directly at (914) 563-9542 or by email at [email protected]
You can also find additional information on Rob's efforts at the Throwaway Kids Foundation.
Tags: Boxing, Dewey Bozella, Muhammad Ali, Rob Garris, Throwaway Kids Foundation