Grady seeks championship belt

Story by David L. Hudson
Photo by Emily Harney

In a sport glutted with glitz, glamour and greed, he is a hardworking, humble and God-fearing family man. In a sport full of spoiled and pampered prospects, he came up the hard way in his 10-year professional boxing career. In a sport where preparation determines success, he often took fights on short notice. In a sport where fighters are judged by their glossy records, he lost several fights giving him a journeyman-like ledger. Though he had a fine amateur career and some natural ability, he lost bouts to future world champions Jermain Taylor and Kelly Pavlik and an assortment of other future prospects.

But, his career and life changed for the better when he entered the second season of The Contender with his uninspiring record. Initially ignored, he defeated several fighters with better records, shocking host Sugar Ray Leonard and much of the public. Boxing insiders knew he would be tough for any fighter on the show to handle, but few predicted his success. Overcoming a hurt shoulder, he advanced to the finals where he defeated former world champion Stevie Forbes to win the half-million dollar first prize and the respect he so richly deserved. His home city of Lawton, Oklahoma, gave him ceremonial keys to the city after his triumph. His name is none other than Grady Brewer.

Brewer realizes that winning The Contender changed his life, allowing him some financial freedom and the ability to open his boxing gym called Bad Boys Boxing & Fitness. “Winning The Contender escalated my career,” he acknowledges. “It also made me hungrier and made me feel more important. It made me want to try harder to uphold my success and stay more focused.” Opening and expanding his business has presented challenges. I didn’t think it would be this hard; in fact, I had no idea would be this hard,” Brewer says. “There is pressure but it has been very worthwhile. I love it.”

Winning the prize also enabled Brewer to call the shots more in his career. “It gave me more time to prepare for an opponent and also gave me more confidence.” Unfortunately, for nearly two years Brewer had limited options due to the condition of his knees. After the show, Brewer had to undergo extensive knee surgery and did not fight for nearly two years. Since the show, he defeated fellow Contender alum Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage and two lesser known opponents. Now, on August 22nd he faces undefeated prospect Albert Onolunose for the IBC junior middleweight championship.

Originally, Brewer was slated to face Anthony “the Messenger” Thompson for the better known IBO junior middleweight belt, but Thompson apparently pulled out of the fight for an undisclosed reason. Brewer had defeated Thompson back in 2004, when he pulled an upset over the then-undefeated 15-0 Philadelphia prospect.

Though he is 38 years old, Brewer hopes to fight for several more years and land some big fights and nice paydays to close out his career. “I feel pretty good and think I could fight until I was 42 but really only God knows the answer to that question,” he says.

When asked how he wants to be remembered, Brewer responds “as a real contender and a hardworking fighter.”

After August 22nd and beyond – depending on if he receives the opportunities that he was denied for so many years, he may also be remembered as a champion.

— David L. Hudson Jr. is a feature writer with and the author of a recently released book on boxing and mixed martial arts entitled Combat Sports: An Encyclopedia of Fighting, Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts.



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