Philly's Handyman Heavyweight’s Unlikely Rise

North Philly native picks up the boxing gloves in his 20s with dreams of a title shot while keeping his day job

By Dan Stamm
|  Thursday, Oct 18, 2012  |  Updated 6:51 PM EDT
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Bryant Jennings is at an age when many boxers are already on the down-slide of their career but for this handyman-by-day, boxer-by-night his career is on the rise up the heavyweight ranks after finding boxing in his mid-20s.

NBC10.com Sports - Matt Maiorano, Colin Macaulay

Bryant Jennings is at an age when many boxers are already on the down-slide of their career but for this handyman-by-day, boxer-by-night his career is on the rise up the heavyweight ranks after finding boxing in his mid-20s.

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"I have a pretty big dream."

Bryant Jennings might not be a household name right now, but if the undefeated boxer keeps climbing the heavyweight ranks he could one day be mentioned with Philadelphia’s greatest fighters -- guys like Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins and Meldrick Taylor.

“I have the quality of past fighters that came out of Philadelphia," Jennings told NBC10. "I have that heart, I have that passion, I have that intensity."

But unlike those legends who threw punches for the City of Brotherly Love before him, Jennings’ ring story starts in his mid-20s after hopes for a career in football never came to fruition.

“I was kind of like shot down and reality kind of hit me,” Jennings said. “Had to get a job... A little bit later I had a child, and that’s when life really hit me and I realized that I had to be something for my son.”

What he did first was get a job as a mechanic and handyman at the Federal Reserve in Philadelphia -- a job he remains dedicated to as he dreams of boxing a world champion fighter. Jennings even returned to his day job of the past six-plus years just 48 hours after a recent bout, according to Philly.com.

So how did the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder wind up in a ring?

“It was three and a half years ago that I walked into the gym," Jennings said. "The only experience I had was street fighting, and I think we all have a little experience in that.”

Now 28, the North Philly native could be the best candidate for America's next great heavyweight -- something missing since Evander Holyfield faded away. Jennings finds himself ranked fifth in the world by the IBF -- a well-deserved designation considering it took him only 35 seconds to dispatch Chris Koval in his last bout.

Jennings is 15-0 with seven knockouts since his pro debut in Feb. 2010. He's looking toward another knockout when he takes the ring against Bowie Tupou (22-2) -- the first Top 50 opponent Jennings could face -- at McGonigle Hall on Temple’s campus on Dec. 8.

Jennings is working hard to ensure Tupou is just the next man standing in the way of him getting a title shot with one of the Klitschko brothers.

“My goal is within arm’s reach," Jennings said. "All I have to do is reach a little more and it’s right there... I'm gonna do it, and it's gonna get done.”

 


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