by Geoffrey Ciani – I was recently afforded the opportunity to have a nice chat with undefeated super middleweight prospect George “The Comanche Boy” Tahdooahnippah. Here is what he had to say:
Q: George, how are preparations going for your January 28 fight against Chris Overby?
A: It’s going good. I fought seven times last year. I took November off, but it’s not really taking much off. I just spent my time with my family on the holidays, of course. I actually got to have a Thanksgiving and a little bit of a Christmas, but I’m back on the grind now. It is what it is. Chris Overby is coming to fight me, so I’m just going to put on a good show, get some rounds in, and just take care of business and look for bigger and better things for the new year..
Q: You did not start boxing until you were 23 years old and you turned pro when you turned 25. Why the late start?
A: Well, here in Lawton, Oklahoma we didn’t have amateur boxing when I was coming up, so I came up as a wrestler. All of my family—my father, my uncles, my grandpa—they were all amateur boxers. They never took it to the professional level, but I’ve known how to box all my life. I just never had the opportunity to do amateur fighting, the only thing I had at the time was “Toughman” and that’s where I come from. I won my “Toughman” in my hometown two times in a row and I went on to the nationals and went to the sweet sixteen and got beat in the finals by a point, and then I turned pro. I had a couple of amateur kickboxing fights as well, because I was headed to MMA because I was a good wrestler. I really love boxing, and it comes natural. I’m a naturally gifted fighter, and then I had Grady Brewer ever since I joined the Lawton Boxing Center back in ’02. Ever since ’02 to now, in eight years I’ve been with Grady Brewer in and out, and when he’s doing good in the world I know my time is coming.
Q: Grady Brewer has been a big influence on your career. How has he been able to help you along?
A: When I first started out, how I knew I was good is I could go with him. He wasn’t dominating me, he wasn’t handling me, he wasn’t hurting me. We were going hard three rounds, but after three rounds when I first started out, he was getting me because I wasn’t used to going the distance and going the rounds. That’s when he was starting to get me because he would wear me out. He would use little vet tricks and he would outsmart me. It took me awhile to get my confidence to go that further distance and go another level and it was probably about “Contender” time when he was fighting Steve Forbes when we were sparring and I was helping him spar for that fight. That’s when I really started stepping it up, and after that point on, every one of our sparring sessions was a battle Lawton, Oklahoma. Who’s the big dog? It’s good for us because he’s fast, he’s quick, and he does good on the world wide. He’s fought everybody—Kelly Pavlik, Jermain Taylor,all of these guys, he’s fought them all and he’s lost only because he didn’t prepare right. When he’s on he’s on, and when he’s not taking care of business, that’s when he loses.
Q: In your first three years as a professional you had just four fights, but in the past three years you’ve had nineteen fights. Why the stark contrast in activity?
A: Well when I first started out I didn’t have a promoter, I didn’t have a manager, I was just a tough kid from Lawton that drew a bunch of people when I fought. Since I’m Native American and I was pretty big amongst my community already, everyone was behind me. I was a local area kid and I fought everywhere. I was a known fighter, so people knew and they’d to see, ‘How tough is this kid’? So throughout Oklahoma, every fight, I bring a couple hundred Native Americans to my fights. I didn’t have a manager, so up until about three years ago—I met Bobby Dobbs, and signed a contract with him for him to be my manager and ever since then, I’ve been fighting. I’ve had three ESPN fights and opportunities there all day long. It’s just me, starting so late and not having that amateur background, I have to get the rounds in, I have to get the experience in. A lot of people say, ‘Hey, how come you don’t fight no one’? Most people at twenty fights are fighting world championship fights, but for me not having that background, I’m still learning, so I’m gradually going and the time is here. This year is the year to take that test and see what happens.
The only blemish on your record is a draw you had with James Cook. Can you tell us a little bit about your performance in that fight and what you might have learned from that experience?
A: Well, you know, the only reason why it was a draw was because I got tired. I was dead tired, and the bottom line—it was a draw. No one cares if I was sick, or if I was taking medication, or had the flu. No one cares about that. This is boxing, they care about that performance night, and the last two rounds I was dead. I just thought to myself, I said, ‘Man, I’m just going to win by points. Whatever I do, I’m just going to win by points’, because I was fatigued. It was nothing special about him. He just caught me on a bad night, and that’s all it was. Once the opportunity strikes and he gives me the opportunity, we’re going to do it again. I’m going to prove to everyone it was just a little bump in the road. To me, it made his day, it made his career, but as far as I’m concerned—James Cook, he only fought just one time after my fight and I keep on fighting and I’m going to keep on climbing. He’s back there, I can’t worry about him right now. I got to worry about the next opportunity—the best opportunity—for me and my family.
Q: To date, you have never gone more than seven rounds in a professional fight. Do you think fighting ten or twelve rounds would cause you any trouble?
A: Of course there’s that thought of, hey man, when I was running three miles and then I adapted over to five miles, how was it going to feel? So I need to be in that water. To me, I feel like I just got my feet wet. I haven’t gotten to deep waters yet. I haven’t went in deep waters yet, but I need to. I need to get out there. I’ve got Carson Jones, my boy from up just a couple of miles away in Oklahoma City, we spar all the time and he’s doing good. He’s a young vet, he’s 23 years old, but he’s been in deep waters. He’s been in those situations, and what it is for me is the confidence. As soon as my confidence is up there, then the sky’s the limit—I’m unbeatable. I feel I’m unbeatable as is, but it’s just I got to get my confidence up, and get in that deeper water to get that experience.
Q: You’re 31 years old, George, and you’re undefeated. What would you ultimately like to accomplish in thesport?
A: Number one, is I want to be on HBO. I want to knock somebody out. I don’t want to be on HBO and just be an opponent. I’m going to be on there and be an opponent, but I’m going to shock them and I want to win. I want to do it for my people, for my race, for people to say, ‘Hey, look at this Native American kid, he did it’. When’s the last time or first time you’ve ever seen a Native American fighter on HBO. That’s what drives me. Whether it be a world title or just to get my title shot, that’s what I’m shooting for and that’s what’s pushing me every day. I’m 31, but I’m a fresh 31 and my style, I don’t take a lot of shots. I do a lot of movement and I can end the fight with the crack of a punch, so I got a puncher’s chance, too, and I’m constantly learning. Every time I’m in the gym sparring, I pick up stuff. I’m getting better and better and better and better. My time is coming. I can see the sun light, it’s just, let’s get there. Keep the eye on the prize and keep on coming.
Q: If you could land a dream fight of your choice, who would you most like to fight that you think you can display your skills well against?
A: Kelly Pavlik. He’s the champ right now. He’s the big dog. I know Bernard Hopkins exposed him, but I’m a tough kid, too, and I’m strong. He’s tall, he’s got power. I’m shorter, but I’m compact, but I’m very strong and I believe. He’s the best one, but whoever’s at middleweight. It doesn’t even matter to me. There’s a lot of good prospects out there, that (Peter) Quillin from New York, there’s (Fernando) Guerrero from Maryland and a bunch of west coast ones. It doesn’t even matter. Whoever’s at 160 and at the top, that’s who I’m gunning for.
Q: Now you mentioned Quillin from New York, “Kid Chocolate”. What would be your timetable on being ready for a match like that? Do you think you would be ready for a match like that in the near future?
A: I’d say end of the year, maybe three months. Hell, if the opportunity rises I’ll be ready in four weeks, I’m there. I’m already priming up for my next fight and I’m just pacing myself right now and getting ready for the big shot. I’m just gaining some experience right now with these little fights and then get ready for the big fight. These guys are good, but they never fought someone like me. No one’s every fought someone like me so I got to prove that.
Q: Changing things up a little bit, I’m curious, what are your thoughts on the whole Super Six super middleweight tournament?
A: I think it’s an excellent thing for boxing. I really like Andre Ward. He’s a fighter. He knows how to win, he knows how to break your stance, and Arthur Abraham. Those are my two choices. Arthur Abraham, he pressures you with good defense, but the way Andre Ward fights, he’s going to open his arms up with his shoulders. I’m going with Andre Ward or Arthur Abraham, but I’m going to say Ward. He’s just a champion, and that’s all he knows. He knows nothing but victory. I think he’s going to do it.
Q: Now you mentioned before, George, that you’re proud to fight as a Native American and that there haven’t been too many Native American fighters out there that are well known. What does it mean to you to represent your people inside the ring?
A: It’s everything. People open the history books up and they talk about, ‘Oh, these Native Americans’, they feel sorry for them. Some people talk about what went on back in the day. They forget that we’re still a race and we’re still a nation within the United States. I live Comanche Nation first. If you ask me, most people say USA, I say I’m Comanche first, then America. It’s never been taken away from me, from my father, from his grandfather. So the way I carry myself is I’m Comanche first. I’m from here, I’m from this land, and no one’s ever seen it since Jim Thorpe. That’s the last time we’ve had a good athlete, but we dwindle off around when we get to the high school years. Alcohol is really taken a hold of us. We just got to come out and we got to wake, and just be this athlete and that’s how I feel. I just got to be this 100% athlete that’s going to go out there and do it and shock somebody, because I’m the person they’re sleeping on. They don’t care who I am. They say you got a pretty little Midwest fighter, that’s all good, I know that. I know what they say, but wait until they get in the ring with me and I’m going to shock them.
Q: My final question, is there anything else you want to say to all the fans out at East Side Boxing?
A: Hey, I appreciate all the support. East Side Boxing, every time I have a fight coming you put it on the internet, so that’s why when I want to get the news I go to East Side Boxing first. And I really appreciate your opportunity just to get my name out there, and I’m coming. “The Comanche Boy” is coming for 2010.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing