By Jackie Kallen
Can Rico Hoye finally realize his dream? It’s been over 12 years since he made his pro debut at the age of 27. That’s pretty old to start a boxing career, but Rico didn’t give it a thought. He got in there and racked up 18 wins in a row at Light Heavyweight. His eye was on becoming a major name in the sport and he marched into his thirties with hope and faith.
Rico grew up in Monroe, Michigan alongside Bronco McKart and he was born with boxing in his blood. His father was trained by the late Bill Miller (who trained James Toney). He is one of the good guys in our business. He is the whole package: Looks, personality, talent, and strong character. He knew from the start that this was his destiny and he trained hard to achieve his goals. His dedication was obvious and his skills were sharp.
However, in 2005, a fight against Clinton Woods in the UK brought his winning streak to an abrupt end when he got stopped in the 5th round. He was hoping to grab the vacant IBF title, but his dreams were crushed.
Rico came back to the states and won a couple of non-title fights to get his groove back. He felt strong and invincible. Then, in 2007, he left the country again to go to Canada to fight Adrian Diaconu for a WBC belt. Diaconu took him out in the third round. Back to the drawing board. By now the 6’3″ boxer was fighting at cruiserweight and creeping up to the 200 pound mark.
Next on Rico’s dance card was a three-fight excursion over to Singapore in early 2009 as part of “The Contender” TV series. He won two out of three bouts before fighting–and beating–Akinyemi Laleye. This got him the 3rd Place position on the show.
It appeared after this that Rico Hoye was out of the boxing business. He was retired, living in Phoenix, and enjoying life out of the ring. But the boxing bug bites whenever it smells blood and desire and Rico Hoye got bit again. With a record of 23-3, he recently announced that he was making a comeback as a heavyweight.
Rico Hoye is going to be 39 years old in November. But he is in good health, excellent shape, and seems to have more determination than ever. After a four-year absence, he is once again stepping through those ropes. On July 26 he will be fighting on Cynthia Tolaymat’s card at Cicero Stadium in Chicago.
“I honestly just feel in my heart I’ve got something left to give this sport. I believe I am unlike many who have made comebacks and take fights because they’re broke.”
Long lay-offs can produce ring rust and bad timing. It takes a really top-notch fighter to defeat Father Time and come out stronger than before. Sugar Ray Leonard got beaten by Terry Norris in 1991 and took a six year break before fighting–and losing to–Hector Camacho in 1997. George Foreman took almost ten years off between his fight with Jimmy Young in 1977 and his comeback in 1987. Every fighter is unique and every lay-off is different.
Knowing Rico Hoye for as long as I have, I don’t doubt his sincerity and his resolve. He will approach his comeback with dignity and he will strive for success. As always, I will be rooting for him.
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