By: Ken Hissner
It doesn’t happen much when a father trains a son in boxing but Philadelphia’s Derrick “Bozy” Ennis seems to have been an exception to that rule. As a boxer he went 12-1 over a six year period ending in 1984.
“I went to the gym to learn what to do with my left hand. I was a street fighter and knew what to do with my right hand. When my trainer Al Styles, Sr., passed I gave it up,” said “Bozy” Ennis. Little did he know at the time that in the future he would become the best trainer in Philadelphia!
It would be some eighteen years later when his oldest son Derek “Pooh” Ennis, 24-5-1 (13), turned professional. He would win his first nine fights before fighting to a disputed draw in the hometown of Maxwell Taylor, 12-2, in Glen Burnie, MD. He would take a 12-1-1 record into the New Alhambra in South Philly losing to Alphonso Williams, 9-2, by stoppage. That was the first show this writer covered for Boxing Tribune as a “young” writer at age 63! “I told him you are ahead but watch out for that left hook and that is what got him,” said “Bozy” Ennis.
“Pooh” would go onto win his next ten fights first capturing the PA super welterweight title defeating Troy Browning, 20-2-1, in 2008. Then win the vacant USBA title the following year in a war defeating Eromosele Albert, 22-3-1, a Nigerian fighting out of Miami, at none other than the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. Albert won his next two fights and actually fought for the IBF middleweight title against Daniel Geale losing a decision. Why it couldn’t have been “Pooh” fighting for that same title instead it wasn’t meant to be. It would be the only time he lost in Philly in some seventeen fights.
In 2010 “Pooh” would fight a classic battle with fellow Philly fighter Gabe “King” Rosado, 14-4, in his first USBA title defense. “Pooh” known for his boxing skills came to fight while Rosado known for his power came to box. The mixture turned out to be one great fight before a packed house at the South Philly Arena (previously the New Alhambra). He would go onto win only two of his next five fights before retiring in 2014. Those three losses were to Cuban southpaw Giorbis Barthelemy 24-8-2, a disputed loss to PR’s 2008 Olympian Jonathan Gonzalez 15-0-1 (retired at 18-0-1) and Caleb Truax 23-1-2, ending his career in 2014.
The second son to box professional was Farah Ennis, 22-2 (12), fighting from 2006 to 2015. He won his first seventeen fights and in 2010 won the vacant NABF super middleweight title stopping Victor Lares, 15-4, and putting him into retirement. In his very next fight he lost for the first time to Alexander “The Great” Johnson, 10-0. “He killed himself making weight,” said “Bozy” Ennis. He would go onto win his next four fights including a win over Anthony “The Tyger” Hanshaw, 23-2-2.
Just over a month after the Hanshaw fight Farah lost a decision to future WBC Super middleweight champion Badou Jack, 14-0, in Las Vegas. “He had too many distractions in that fight,” said “Bozy” Ennis. Farah would be inactive for almost two years before returning to the ring winning which has been his last fight and in Philly though several return to the rings have been rumored. He was 7-0 in Philly rings. He was in camp with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin when he was preparing to fight Philly’s Gabe “King” Rosado. “He has been trying to get his weight down before returning to the ring,” said “Bozy” Ennis.
Both “Pooh” and Farah were co-managed by partners Moz Gonzales and Eddie Woods.
This writer has been in three facilities named “Bozy’s Dungeon” where “Bozy” trains his youngest son now who is the best prospect this writer has seen since Meldrick Taylor then the 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist. Jaron “Boots” Ennis is 15-0 (13) since turning professional in April of 2016
“Boots” is co- managed by his father and Cameron Dunkin while being promoted by Chris Middendorf’s Victory Promotions. The latter also did matchmaking for his two brothers. The youngest Ennis seems to have all the tools his two brothers have shown and then some. He can box orthodox or southpaw and gets in plenty of sparring with southpaw welterweight contender “The New” Ray Robinson whom is also trained by “Bozy” Ennis.
I had the pleasure recently to sit down with “Bozy” in talking about his “Three Son’s!”
KEN HISSNER: I gather you have trained all three of your son’s the same way. Is that right?
BOZY ENNIS: I trained them all to be smart boxers. I want them to work as hard as I do. I even get into the ring to spar with them.
KEN HISSNER: Let’s start with your oldest son “Pooh”. How would you evaluate his career and how workable was he to train?
BOZY ENNIS: He was good and worked hard but when he got older he felt he could cut back on making the weight but couldn’t without weakening himself.
KEN HISSNER: Your middle son Farah has been rumored to come back since his last fight in 2015. Please talk about that and his career.
BOZY ENNIS: He’s back in the gym trying to get his weight back down in order for that to happen.
KEN HISSNER: Now you have possibly one of the youngest talents in the country in your son “Boots”. He has had quite a few fights (15 in 18 months) in a short period of time. How would you compare his young career to his two brothers and what does the future have in store for him in your humble opinion?
BOZY ENNIS: He is always in the gym, even days after a fight.
KEN HISSNER: I know you have worked with such boxers as Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson, Coy Evans, Milton Santiago, Jr., the Pizzaro brothers and currently with “The New” Ray Robinson. Is there anyone else?
BOZY ENNIS: Buddy Osborn has brought me Manny “Major Pain” Folly (At 10-0 a Super bantamweight).
KEN HISSNER: You obviously stay in great shape so is this something you insist all of your boxers work hard to do the same?
BOZY ENNIS: I work hard to stay in shape and get into the ring and show them how to box.
KEN HISSNER: What is “Boots” next fight?
BOZY ENNIS: October 14th in Springfield, VA, against an opponent 25-12.
KEN HISSNER: You recently in “Boots” last bout were scheduled to fight in western PA but several days before fight time were re-scheduled for a bout in Indiana. How difficult was that to adjust to on such short notice?
BOZY ENNIS: It was the problem with the matchmaker in PA so Chris (Middendorf) was able to get us one in Indiana the same day.
KEN HISSNER: “Boots” has fought seven of his fifteen fights so far in Philly. Is that an advantage fighting at home for you?
BOZY ENNIS: No, I would rather them fight away where there are fewer distractions.
KEN HISSNER: I know you have told me “Boots” deservingly split in a pair of amateur bouts with Gary Antuanne Russell but in the Olympic Trials you felt he should have gotten the decision in their third meeting.
BOZY ENNIS: He had him down and should have gotten the decision.
KEN HISSNER: You have always been available to talk to me and I appreciate it immensely. I feel you are the best trainer in Philly and after having two sons with successful pro careers now have a third son who has all the potential in the world to becoming a world champion. How much input do you have in being suggested or asked for the opponents for “Boots”?
BOZY ENNIS: I leave that up to Cameron (Dunkin) and Chris (Middendorf)
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time from your busy scheduled to answer these questions and wish you all the success in the future.
BOZY ENNIS: Thanks for what you do.