PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 12, 2021  
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Story by Danny Ziccardi
File Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


Philadelphia is a fighting town, and a city whose inhabitants must display toughness and grit to survive. Boxers who possess these traits are beloved in the City of Brotherly Love. Twenty year old Philly lightweight prospect Nafear “No Fear” Charles is currently undefeated at 5-0, with 5 TKO stoppage victories, all within the first two rounds. He is one of the lightweight division’s future stars. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Nafear Charles had no choice but to be fearless. 

“My mother named me Nafear,” Charles said. “She named me that because she wanted me to have no fear. My entire family have been fighters. My grandfather was protecting my mother in a fight, and a blow accidentally hit me, causing me to be born premature.” 

Growing up, schoolyard fights were common for Charles. “I was always addicted to fighting,” he said. “I fought a lot as a kid in school. Growing up in Philadelphia you have to fight. That’s just how it is. It’s Brotherly Love, but also the City of Hard Knocks”.

Charles fought often as a kid, and many saw his potential. Going to the boxing gym was Nafear’s escape from the streets. He started boxing at ten years old, and had seventy-five amateur fights, losing only eight. Charles was also a five-time Golden Glove Champion. 

He had many motivators in his boxing career. “My cousin initially got me interested in boxing,” Charles said. “I don’t think - even to this day - he realizes the impact he made on me. My father also made a big impact on my life. I don’t see myself going far in this sport without him. He’s really pushed me. Not just with boxing but with life.”

Charles has also had many other mentors in the game. 

“My advisor is “Freeway” Rick Ross,” Charles said. “He really has looked out for me, not just in boxing but also just being a good person and someone I can look to for wisdom”.

Ross, a former drug kingpin, has changed his life around and is now making a positive impact. Charles also cites his strength and conditioning coach Wendell Chavis as a strong mentor, as well as Reverend Elvin Thompson, (former welterweight prospect) Dick Turner, and coach Ivan Robinson.

“Rev. Thompson taught me how to get inside and rough up my opponent. Dick Turner taught me the skills of pure boxing. Both have made a huge impact on my life. Dick Turner is a Philadelphia legend, and he didn’t have to do what he did. He would walk to the gym to help train me. He was a really special person. It is rare that God makes people like that, and when he does, you have to cherish them.”

Charles makes sure to include and acknowledge all of the figures who have helped him in his career.

In his first five bouts, Charles has been magnificent with his swarming and vicious attack, which he attributes to an old school, rough and rugged style, taught by Rev. Thompson.

“I am trained to pursue,” Charles said.

Charles fights loud, but outside of the ring he is reserved and quiet, with an old-school mentality toward the fight game.

“I don’t use any social media,” he said. “My father runs my Instagram. I am very quiet and always have been that way.”

Charles doesn’t allow much to distract him and is working hard towards his dream of getting to the top of the lightweight division.

“I believe I have the ability to be a world champion, Charles said. “I am hoping to get the chance for a big fight, possibly getting to move up after three of four more wins. Eventually, I would like to fight Gervonta “Tank” Davis. I want to take him out.”

Despite being very confident, Charles knows he needs to keep progressing and learning every day in the sport. Ivan Robinson, who was once a Philadelphia great himself (32-12-2, with two notable wins over Arturo Gatti), is currently coaching Nafear Charles.

“I learn so much [from Ivan Robinson],” Nafear said. “I’ve been boxing since I was little, and I’m still learning new things every day.” 

Nafear Charles is a true student of the game, and has high hopes for himself. There have been many highs thus far in his young career, but there have also been some challenges. Getting opponents to take on the dangerous up-and-comer has been difficult - even before the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“Honestly people have been ducking me,” Charles claimed. “I had fifteen fights set up for one year, and only one went through. People don’t want tough fights anymore, fights that you have to work for. Total, I’ve went through 40-50 fighters, I’ve been ducked tremendously. I understand fighters want to keep their perfect records, especially early on, but I want tough fights”. 

Charles wants the challenge.

Helping kids in the community and impacting the lives of youth is another motivating factor for Nafear Charles. He hopes to get everything he can out of boxing, and achieve his goals. However, after he is done with the sport, he wants to help young kids in Philadelphia.

“I mentor a lot of kids in the community,” Charles said. “Kids today don’t fight. They go straight to gun-violence. I want to help change that. I want to get into business after I am done boxing, and also help kids in the community, like so many have helped me.” 

Charles said that fighting is an important skill to learn - as long as it is only used in defense. He thinks kids should learn to fight so they don’t have to.

Charles fights on Saturday night, January 16th at the Elevations Event Center in Chester, PA. The card is promoted by Rodney Rice’s RDR Promotions. Charles takes on on Latorie Woodberry (2-10-2) in a six-round fight.

“We have had a few higher-ranked opponents fall through, but we got somebody that’s pretty solid,” Charles said. “(This opponent) still allows me to work on my skills, and then hopefully move forward. If he shows any weakness in the beginning, I’m going to take him out. If opponents show me that they can be hurt, I’m going to try to take them out. If not, I would love to display my boxing capabilities. But for right now, my mindset is to get him out of the way. He’s kind of a wild fighter. He likes to head butt and that kind of stuff. I’m going to try to take him out early and move forward”. 

Not only is Nafear Charles one of Philadelphia’s most exciting prospects, but his old-school fighting style embodies Philadelphia. Aggressive pursuit is Charles’ calling card, and he hopes to blaze his way to the top of the lightweight division.

When asked about the rising Philadelphia fighting scene, he stated, “We’re taking over”. 




Danny Ziccardi - Philadelphia - January 12, 2021