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Nate Campbell-Trying to Beat the Odds…Again

(Nate Campbell)
(Nate Campbell)

Nate Campbell has made a career- and a life- of beating the odds. As a young man, he was what we call today, “at-risk,” in foster care by seven and having attended 15 different schools by age 17. Somehow, with sports and personal dedication, Campbell made it through school, began working and started a family.


He did not enter a boxing gym until age 24, while he was working the graveyard shift.

Despite not fighting in an amateur contest until age 25, and turning a pro at 27, he beat the odds and became a successful professional, starting his career with 23 straight wins, 21 by knockout. In January 2003, Campbell faced Joel Casamayor.

In a fight Campbell feels he deserved to win, Casamayor won a decision and went on to face Diego Corrales and earn a level of boxing stardom. Campbell struggled with his career, and life, through a 4-4-1 stretch.


During that stretch, Campbell wanted to take a break. “I probably would have taken a year off, but I couldn’t do it financially,” said Campbell. His head was not in the game. A year after the Casamayor fight came the infamous first knockout loss to Robbie Peden. “People don’t understand; no one can help you through that,” admitted Campbell. How did he get though that time?


Campbell responded, “I don’t know. I had to get through it or die. I didn’t want to die.”


He was barely making it; by 2004 Campbell was an “opponent.” “In the second Martinez fight (in July 2004), Lou DiBella gave me $1250,” said Campbell. “It cost more to train for that fight. I couldn’t get a job because I hadn’t worked in so long.” After a loss to Francisco Lorenzo, Campbell was slated as an opponent for young contender Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov in October of 2005.


A focused and rededicated Campbell soon replaced the “opponent” of the past two years he once was. “I made up my mind; I was going to do it or die trying. It was the most important fight of my life,” he said. Again, Campbell scored a 10th round TKO over Raiymkulov; he had beaten the odds once again.


Despite a decision loss to Isaac Hlatshwayo along the way, Campbell was on his way to a world championship. His time came on March 8, 2008 against IBF, WBA and WBO World Lightweight Champion Juan Diaz. An underdog to the undefeated Diaz, Campbell’s split decision victory earned him the title “World Champion.”


Campbell told me that he had always fought for acceptance from the boxing community and his hometown. It was now that he felt he had finally earned it.


Instead, he was about to face the biggest disappointment of his life as a fighter.


“It was like they were mad at me because I beat Diaz,” said Campbell. “I didn’t get any love from my city; everything I did seemed to go for naught. I thought the boxing establishment would embrace me, love me for being the American Dream; I did everything I was supposed to do. Instead, they called me a steroid user and still gave Diaz the big fights.”


Campbell, at 38, now stands at peace with himself and, although he still speaks with some bitterness, he accepts what he’s accomplished and no longer longs for the acceptance he craved for so long.


Campbell said that on his 38th birthday he rededicated his life to God, and feels as good now as he’s ever felt in his career, adding that, by boxing standards, he is relatively young because his start in the sport came later in life.


While remaining dedicated to boxing, Campbell sees a future in the ministry, and holds a telephone prayer council every morning to which any one can attend (details are listed on his Facebook page:


This is the Campbell who faces Victor Ortiz Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. He is again an underdog going into a fight, and again, facing an opponent the boxing business establishment wants to see win. To remain atop the fight game and earn a shot at another title, Nate Campbell will have to beat the odds…again.


Questions or comments can be directed to Please visit Alec at

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