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Does the Fathers Involvement with their Boxing Sons Ever Work?

Dusty Hernandez-Harrison
Dusty Hernandez-Harrison

By Ken Hissner

We’ve seen it so many times how a father in the corner or managing a son turns out bad! Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and his father have had their ups and downs as has Shane Mosley and his father.

Today there are three relationships that stand out for me. One is the one between Buddy Harrison and his 19 year-old son Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, 22-0 (12), out of Washington, DC. He turned professional at 16 after 200 amateur fights and many titles.


“I actually started Dusty boxing before he could walk. I had him throwing punches when he was still in diapers,” said Buddy Harrison. The elder Harrison is both manager and trainer of his son. “Boxing is very important to me and my dad but Jesus comes first,” said Dusty. The young boxer leads the team in prayer before each fight. On July 26th at Madison Square Garden Dusty returns to the ring.

“My relationship with Dusty will not and cannot fail, for if he quit tomorrow I am fully satisfied. Now that I have aged I know the true importance in life. Jesus comes first for my son and myself. Dusty is a true believer in God and it is that very reason I am completely satisfied with him. Furthermore he finished school, never in jail, never smoked a cigarette, no drugs, no alcohol. Also, because of boxing he has purchased a condo right here in our Nation’s Capital, “Washington, D.C.” In fact, he is the youngest to purchase a home in Naylor Gardens. I live in the same complex a block away. He was born in this very same home on May 21st 1994. I see my son every single day. We walk to the stores together, we ride our bikes through DC, we visit the local barber shop, and we even walk our pit bulls at the same time. He is not only my son, but he is also my best friend,” said Buddy Harrison.

“Me and my dad disagree often, but I know he always has my back. He tells me if I were never to box again that he would be cool with it. Well, I’m not so sure about that. Here is a guy that every conversation that anyone has with him always turns to boxing. He spends every single day in his gym.


(Old School Boxing) As a kid he made me go to the gym on my birthday, Thanksgiving, and even on Christmas. Now does that sound like someone that would have no problem at all if I said I didn’t want to box any longer??? – Dusty Harrison.

My favorite trainer Jesse Reid, Sr. and his son Jesse, Jr. have a good relationship. The father is in the Boxing HOF in CA. He was 5-1-2 (2) as a boxer before realizing being a trainer is what he was cut out for. His son was 11-0-1 (6), as a cruiserweight retiring in 2002. “Pop’s trained me and then he got too nervous in the corner seeing his son fight. So I started training with Kenny Adams who is a great friend of ours for the rest of my career,” said Jesse Jr. He has since joined his father in the corner. “I love working with my Pop’s. He’s my best friend. He is really a prime class man,” said Jesse Jr. I recently caught up with them in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I met the son for the first time but do to “new” PA rules the writers are no allowed in the dressing rooms anymore so I couldn’t renew friendships with the father.
The third team is WBA/WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia, 28-0 (16), of Philadelphia and his father Angel. They opened a new gym in 2013 called DSG gym in the city of “Brotherly Shove”. Danny’s good friend Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins trained there for his last 2 fights. Danny is close to his father and family. Angel is a no nonsense trainer and keep an eye out for his son. Usually it’s Angel at press conferences that does most of the talking and Danny in the ring the fighting. August 9th at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, will be Danny’s next fight.

I remember when Sean O’Grady turned professional he had 26 fights his first year and after 3 more the next year his father put him in with Danny Lopez 24-3 who had just stopped Ruben Olivares, 80-6-1. O’Grady was 29-0 but only beat one boxer with a winning record. 22 of his opponents never won a fight with 14 of them making their debut. By the end of the 4th round O’Grady’s corner stopped the fight.

O’Grady was 73-1 when he got his first title fight against Jim Watt, 37-7, in the UK. O’Grady was stopped in the 12th on cuts. Just 6 months later he gets a second title fight this time with WBA champion Hilmer Kenty, 20-0, winning the title on a decision. Manny Steward told me “the win over Kenty will always be the highlight of Sean’s career.”

O’Grady’s father decides not to fight No. 1 contender Claude Noel and gets stripped of his title. Some 6 months after defeating Kenty his father forms the WAA. He is matched with Andy Ganigan, 33-3, who lost his previous fight and gets stopped in 2 rounds suffering 3 knockdowns. Ganigan thought so much of winning the WAA title he not only never defended it but fought and lost in his next fight trying to win the WBC title.

O’Grady went 5-2 after that loss to Ganigan and retired at the ripe old age of 24. I was representing a company from OK and they told me how O’Grady’s father had such a big ego.

“Smokin” Joe Frazier took over the job as trainer from George Benton who guided Marvis Frazier to winning the AAU and GG titles in the amateurs. Frazier tried making his son fight his style. After winning his first 10 fights Joe puts him in with champion Larry Holmes, 44-0, who had 17 title defenses at the time. It was a disaster lasting all of 2:57 of the 1st round. After winning his next 6 fights Marvis meets 24-0 Mike Tyson and lasts 0:30 of the 1st round. Would Joe ever learn? I’ve seen the two sparring one another at the Frazier gym and I don’t remember seeing Joe hold back. Marvis had a lot of respect for his father.

I also remember former WBA light heavyweight champion Mike “The Jewish Bomber” Rossman, 44-7-3 (27), and his father and manager Jimmy De Piano having scuffles in the dressing room prior to a fight. I remember seeing IBF light middle and super middleweight champion Darrin Van Horn getting slapped across the face between rounds on ESPN by his father. When Van Horn’s father was exiting the ring one of the other trainers on the card was upset seeing what happened and was waiting for him. Van Horn’s father jumped toward the other trainer and was felled by a left hook. You had to see it to believe it.
So you can see sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. A father has to have a lot of trust before turning his son over to another trainer. Others must be in the limelight which usually takes away from the son.

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