PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - August 01, 2016  
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Story by John DiSanto


The first thing that Kieran Hooks sees when he wakes up every morning in the Olney Section of North Philly is the stuffed trophy case in his bedroom. The same goes for the last thing he sees when he goes to sleep at night. That case is loaded with the trophies, medals, belts and ribbons that he earned as an amateur boxer.

“Those are all mine,” Hooks said. “Local and state tournaments. It’s the first thing I see when I wake up and the first thing I see when I walk into my room. Every night I look at it and its motivation. I see that, and I know I can do something in this sport.”

Hooks had 41 bouts in the amateur ranks. He won many local tournaments, but never managed to bring home a national title.

“Every time I went out to the nationals I lost out there,” Hooks said. “I’ve been to five nationals. I never won a national title or anything, but I know I can fight. It does kind of bother me, but I know I can fight.” 

The rangy junior middleweight, originally from Southwest Philly, will get his chance to prove his skills Friday night at South Philly’s 2300 Arena. Hooks makes his professional debut on the undercard of a nine-bout show promoted by Marshall Kauffman’s Kings Boxing.

The two main bouts of the evening, both 10-rounders, David Benavidez vs. Denis Douglin and Alejandro Luna vs. Stephen Ormond, will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Hooks’ opponent has not yet been named, but he is ready to turn the page on his amateur career and get things started as a pro.

“I can’t wait,” Hooks said of his upcoming debut. “It’s like a whole new excitement for me. I just can’t wait to take my talents to the next level.” 

Hooks with manager Rodney Rice and Philly vet Garrett Wilson

Hooks trains under Lonnie Hill at the Lawncrest Recreation Center in Northeast Philadelphia and is managed by Rodney Rice, who works out of South Philly’s Marian Anderson Recreation Center. However, Hooks got his start in boxing far away from the famous Philly gyms.

“I was a fan (of boxing), but I got involved because my mother sent me to go stay with my grandfather in Massachusetts for a whole summer,” Hooks said. “I already played basketball and football. There was a local boxing gym up there, and I just wanted to try it out. I ended up liking it, and once I came back to the city, I wanted to continue to take it on.” 

Hooks, 16 at the time, began training and competing as an amateur boxer. Now six years later, he’s ready to launch his professional career.

Inspired the by the best fighter of the era, Hooks began dreaming of becoming a champion himself.

“Floyd (Mayweather) is my favorite fighter,” Hooks said. “But watching more, I stated liking guys like (Erislandy) Lara and Demetrius Andrade. Smart fighters, finesse fighters.” 

Although not a southpaw himself, the 22 year old Hooks will look to emulate his favorite junior middleweight lefties, Lara and Andrade, as he works his way up the rankings at 154 pounds. Local fans get to see his opening act on Friday night in South Philadelphia.

“I like to move a lot,” Hooks said of his own ring style. “I got long arms and I’m taller than most of the opponents I fight. So I like to use the ring and keep them on the end of my punches.” 

It sounds like a winning style, and if Hooks can keep that style working for him, he might eventually add a professional belt to that trophy case. First step, Friday night in South Philly.




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - August 01, 2016