By: Hans Themistode
Sell dugs or become a pro athlete? Those are typically the choices for a young kid growing up in the Bronx section of New York. This is particularly true if you are a young man of color.
For professional boxer Peter Dobson, he has heard this narrative his entire life.
“When I was coming up I actually wanted to be a drug dealer,” said Dobson. “I used to think that was the coolest thing ever. A lot of older people used to tell me negative things all the time so I always kind of thought that I’m either going to have to make it as an athlete or I would end up being a drug dealer.”
Photo Credit: Henry Deleon
To Dobson’s credit, he made the right choice. As a professional fighter he has managed to amass a record of 11 wins with 7 of them coming via stoppage in the welterweight division. It seems like his master plan is coming all together doesn’t it? Well, not exactly. Boxing was never supposed to be apart of his future. Instead of dominating foes in the ring, he dreamed of doing destroying his competition on the basketball court.
“I used to play basketball a lot. I played AAU ball for the New York Gauchos. Before boxing that was really my first love.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the New York Gauchos, they should do their research. Only the best of the best in the New York area have played for this team including former NBA players Stephon Marbury, Mark Jackson, Rod Strickland and countless others. Dobson, like many other troubled youth in this area, may have been talented enough to see his dreams come true but didn’t place enough emphasis on the work that needed to be done in the classroom.
“In school I would fail most of my classes so I wasn’t able to stay on the team. I would also get into a lot of fights. Once I wasn’t able to stay on the team it just got worse for me. I used to either slap someone or get into a fight every other day.”
Being a product of your environment seems like the appropriate diagnostic for Dobson. When you delve into his story however, it actually goes deeper than that. He wasn’t just emulating what he had grown accustomed to seeing in his neighborhood, but his behavior was actually engrained in his very DNA.
“My dad was pretty well known in the Bronx. He passed away when I was only a week old but people would always tell me about how he really struck fear in a lot of people. Plenty of guys started telling me that we have the same personality. For me, I didn’t really want to take that as a compliment because I knew exactly where that would lead me.”
A change in his personality is what Dobson wanted and it is exactly what he accomplished. He was still a young kid with a lot of anger and with no basketball to channel that anger, Dobson turned his sights towards the boxing ring.
“I first got into boxing when I was 16 years old. My aunt had a gym by her house so me and my cousin decided to start going to the gym. A whole bunch of my friends started with me but they all quit and I’m the only one who kept going. I really enjoyed it until the gym that I normally went to closed down. From there I wasn’t sure what to do. There were a few gyms that weren’t too far but a lot of them were dirty and I just didn’t like the vibe that I was getting in there.”
For a boxer, a gym is almost an extension of his home. Finding the best gym that he could took a bit of time. It seemed as though Dobson would have to settle for a raggedy gym but instead, he found one that was perfectly suited for him.
Hard-Work-Work is the phrase associated with South Box, a gym which is ran by former amateur standout boxer Eric Kelly and located at 2413, Third Avenue in the Bronx. What does it mean exactly? That’s simple.
Photo Credit: Henry Deleon
Hard work works and will yield desired results. If you aren’t ready to work hard then this isn’t the gym for you.
The slogan was a mirror image of how Dobson viewed himself. He was ready to put in all of the work necessary to achieve his goals.
“It’s been a bit of a blessing that my old gym closed down because South Box has been great to me. Just the atmosphere and work I’m able to get down there is perfect for me. I love it in there but what makes the gym even better for me is Eric Kelly. It’s defiently the hottest gym in the Bronx.”
The relationship Dobson has developed with Kelly has turned into something that goes far beyond just boxing.
“I’m usually a loner at heart but with Kelly he’s been my guy since day one. As soon as I met him it felt like we knew each other for a while, he was just a real cool guy. He shows me a lot of love. He’s almost like a big brother to me.”
With his new home at South Box, Dobson has had himself a great start to his boxing career. As an amateur he won the Golden Gloves tournament and a slew of other competitions along the way. His professional career is off to a spotless start after 11 pro fights as well.
It might seem early, but Dobson wants his crack at a title soon. Many of you may look at his record and decide that he is a bit too inexperienced to jump in the ring with the best at the Welterweight Division but Dobson would disagree with you.
“I want to be a world champion after a few more fights. Maybe four or five. I know that I can compete with anyone right now. Everyone has always told me that I have the talent but my problem has always been my conditioning. I’ve worked really hard at that flaw and I believe that my conditioning is at an elite level now. I know the Welterweight division is possibly the best in boxing but I want to show that I belong. I’ve sparred Jaron Ennis, Erickson Lubin and a bunch of other top notch guys and I’ve held may own. People don’t realize that I have more experience than what my record says. I’ve gotten the chance to train at the TMT gym in Vegas and at Freddie Roach’s gym also so I’ve been everywhere. All I need is an opportunity.”
Dobson fully understands that he will have to continue to work hard for his chance to show what he can do on the big stage. If it was up to him however, he would love to jump in the ring against one big name fighter in particular right now.
“I want to fight Adrien Broner. That’s who I want the most. We sparred at Mayweather’s gym a few years ago and everybody saw that I was doing well. It was some really good sparring but what got me upset is that he put up clips on instagram of him hitting me and didn’t show any of the work that I was doing. He made it seem like he was just beating me up in the gym so yeah Adrien is number one on my list.”
Many young fighters wouldn’t call out a four division world champion in Adrien Broner, but the confidence that Dobson has in himself will never waver. He has been like this his entire life.
What exactly motivates and pushes him to attempt to be great? Fear and joy.
“Every time I go into the ring I’m scared but it just makes me fight harder. The fear that I have keeps me motivated but so does my son Eli. Before I had him I didn’t think I could get any more motivated but once he was born my desire to be great and my motivation has gone through the roof.”
It isn’t just his baby being born that keeps Dobson motivated. Even after so many years, he still remembers every bad word that everyone had to say about him when he was growing up. Proving the doubters wrong who believed that he wouldn’t amount to anything has pushed Dobson, but it has also shown him what he wants to do for the next generation.
“A lot of people told me that I wouldn’t amount to anything. I didn’t really have anybody to point me in a different direction. I want to be that person to show the younger generation the right path. Becoming a world champion and making a lot of money is important to me but so is inspiring the youth and showing them that they can do whatever that they want to do in life.”