If you expect an article that reads like a thriller novel, describing professional boxer Giezwa “Gizzy” Hobbs’ plans to graphically take apart his opponent on Saturday in order to sell tickets or create the perfect bad boy image, well, you’re reading the wrong article.
Hobbs (2-0) refuses to take a sentimental or self-pitying approach when reflecting on boxing in general and Minnesota in particular. Hobbs’ voice projects an elegant introspection as he invites readers into the vulnerable world of boxing. But he cleverly maneuvers this topic towards a positive perspective: too much of a warrior mentality, neglecting other factors, can be a fighter’s downfall.
In the ring, the expectation is that Hobbs will give a dynamic solo performance, but outside the ring, he is a member of an orchestra of family, friends, and loving supporters who give him the oomph to fight on.
“What is the negative side of boxing?” he said. “Of course you might have to go through some moments when you’re broke; this is a poor man sport.”
Hobbs’ introduction to boxing started in St. Louis at the age of 11. “I was in front of a boxing gym called the West End; it was an old police station that had a boxing gym in the basement,” Hobbs said, recalling the fistfight he had with two twin brothers who repeatedly bullied him.
“We started fighting, and some officers and then coach Larry Freemen came out and broke it up.” Freemen explained to the boys that their behavior was out of line, and he suggested an alternative: that the now 25-year-old Hobbs and the twin brothers put their efforts into something productive, such as boxing. Hobbs accepted Freemen’s challenge. And the two bullies? Hobbs said he never saw or heard from them again. But he was not really paying attention, as he would go on to win titles at the Sliver Gloves and Ring Side tournaments while compiling a record of 123 wins against only 15 defeats.
In the same way that Freemen’s encouragement set him on this fulfilling path, Hobbs stresses that his career is rewarding because of what he calls a “village to raise a fighter.” There are many significant people in his corner and his life, and one is his trainer and former professional boxer Cerresso Fort.
“He is one of the main reasons I am in this,” said Hobbs, whose professional record is (2-0). “My coach called me five years ago and asked why I wasn’t in the gym one day,” Hobbs recalled Fort–who had an impressive amateur record, winning over 75 fights before suffering his first defeat–expressing his unhappiness knowing the talent that Hobbs was wasting as a potential solid fighter.
“I had a full-time job at that time. It was my coach who opened up the gym after business hours just for me. He is a big inspiration and the cream of why I am here [boxing].”
Hobbs said another major person is his uncle Marvon. “He’s amazing and has done a lot for me since my pro career and the investments that I am trying to make,” said Hobbs.
And while there are many perks to boxing, there are dangers too, especially so early in a boxer’s career. One major downside is the number of hours it takes to become a worthy fighter for bigger paydays. For many boxers, the sacrifice is something of a quandary, because a fighter’s family suffers the most, and yet they are the inspiration that either gives a fighter that gut-wrenching motivation to excel or to walk away (due to serious injury) never realizing their potential for the sake of wanting to see their kids grow up.
“Casi, the mother of my 4-year old son Gizzy Jr., she has had my back for a long time,” said Hobbs, who pushes himself to train for a fight seven days a week. “She’s had my back; she takes care of my little Gizzy, and I am so thankful for her.”
Hobbs said his cut man Eric, Casey, his other coach, Laurie, his spiritual and mental coach, and Lisa his physical health trainer, along with manager Stuart and promoter Seconds Out Promotions President Tony Grygelko all have invested heavily not only in his boxing career but in his overall well-being.
When it comes to the fight, Hobbs said he’s ready, having completed a part of his training camp in LA and the other in North Carolina. He also said Circle of Discipline’s fighters has given him top-notch sparring opportunities, as well as other local fighters.
In 2010, this writer interviewed then 17-year-old Hobbs and Tom Murray at Patrick Henry High School, where Hobbs graduated. Murray, who was the coordinator for several after-school programs at Henry, said, “Gizzy’s main strengths are that he is a role model for our other students because he is a good student. He has extreme devotion to the code and ethics of boxing. And is an old-school gentleman. I am most impressed how he never, ever puts himself in a situation of any kind that takes him off of the path that he is on.”
During the interview, Hobbs said he was inspired by rapper Jay-Z, not so much for the artist’s music, but because of what the rapper represented. “Jay-Z is about independence. That’s what I want to do as a boxer: start from nothing and build my way to the top.”
10 years later, Hobbs has kept that promise to himself as he looks to climb the ladder in the boxing world in a short time. But no matter where boxing or his business adventures take him, it is almost a given that he’ll represent the state of Minnesota well while ensuring that his close friends, family, and kinship supporters enjoy the ride in some fashion as well.
“I am not looking to fight Minnesota fighters; I am looking to build Minnesota up. [It’s about] helping foundations and helping the world become a better place,” he said. “It’s much bigger than boxing. I am going to create a legacy. I am going to retire in this sport very young.”