By Jackie Kallen
OK, here is one for the record books. My buddy Hassan Chitsaz is officially the oldest active heavyweight on the planet. He is 55 years old and is still fighting. He boasts a 24-1 record, which is verifiable on Boxrec.com
I first met Hassan in Los Angeles in 2008. He was looking for a manager to handle his career. He was 3-0 as a pro, but his fights were all back in 1994. I felt that it would be hard to get fights here in the States for a boxer over 50, so I passed. Chitsaz was undeterred by my decision. Determined to get back in the ring, Chitsaz made his second pro debut on February 22, 2008 in Sonora, Mexico. There is apparently no age problem there.
The Iranian found his niche in Mexico and has had all but one of his fights there. In 2010 he fought (and lost) a fight in New Zealand. The Mexican fans seem to appreciate his ageless love for the sport and his winning demeanor.
It doesn’t seem to matter whom he fights or what his opponent’s age or record is. For Hassan, it is just the thrill of once more getting into the ring as he fights Father Time on a daily basis. He calls himself the Iranian Assassin and his knockout ratio has been a whopping 96%.
“I feel that age is just a number,” he preaches. “It is mind over matter. If you don’t mind–it doesn’t matter.
When I first met Chitsaz, I was impressed with his brute strength both mentally as well as physically. There was no stopping him. He was going to follow his dream regardless of anyone else’s opinion or advice.
“If you can believe it, you can achieve it,” I told him. He adopted that saying and it has been his motto and motivation ever since.
Chitsaz was working as a bodyguard for various superstar celebrities when he met Ken Norton twenty years ago. Norton took him under his wing and trained him for his pro debut. The two have maintained a friendship ever since.
I admire Hassan for his tireless energy and his ability to get himself up mentally for each and every fight. He still trains vigorously and is serious about his career. He takes good care of his body and lives a clean lifestyle.
When asked how much longer he intends to fight, he smiles enigmatically. He is having too much fun to think of retiring. He is proud of the five belts he has accumulated and he loves telling people how important it is to set goals.
“I believe I am unique. I have accomplished what most people did not think I could do. At my age, I proved that nothing is impossible. I had a dream, I followed it and I made it come true.”
Chitsaz also has a degree in criminal justice and is planning ahead to when he no longer boxes.
“Education is vital,” he stresses, “and I know how important it is. I had a rough childhood and I never had the proper opportunities when I was young so I guess I am a late bloomer. But it’s never too late. I am doing all the things now that most people do when they are much, much younger.
“I don’t believe that you have to live your life in any certain order. It is never too late.”
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen