By Thomas Gerbasi
This should have been the honeymoon period for Marcus Browne. A 2012 United States Olympian making his professional debut on Showtime’s ShoBox series this Friday night in Indio, California, Browne didn’t just have his amateur pedigree preceding him, but high-powered advisor Al Haymon backing him. And all this before his 22nd birthday on Saturday.
But as a Staten Island, New York native, suddenly the launch of his pro boxing career paled in comparison to making sure his family and friends were okay after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the area, including his Clifton neighborhood, last week.
“This made me appreciate life and it puts things in perspective,” said Browne, one of the more mature 21-year olds you will run into. “You can’t worry about material things and stuff like that because that can all be all gone in instant.”
For a couple of his friends, it was gone in an instant following the vicious storm, but Browne and his family were safe and sound, and barring a couple days of missed training at the Atlas Cops ‘N Kids gym, he was able to get back to work and then on a plane to California on Monday.
“There was a light and phone situation, so I couldn’t train for two days, but that was it,” he said. “But a couple friends of mine lost everything, so I’m just grateful that my house was still left standing.”
It was just the latest in a serious of life-altering 2012 events for Browne, and thankfully the only negative one, as this year has seen him earn a spot on the Olympic team, represent his country in Staten Island, and then get signed by a power player before he begins his pro journey begins. And now with the immediate effects of Sandy in the rearview mirror, he’s ready to get to work when he faces Fort Gibson, Oklahoma’s Codale Ford (2-0) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday.
“I’m grateful and excited and ready to put in some work,” he said. “And I’m happy that I got to the level in the amateurs that I did to get me where I’m at now in the pros.”
Getting to that level was a long, but ultimately fruitful process. A three-time New York Golden Gloves champion, Browne also picked up 2010 PAL and 2012 US National titles before getting onto the Olympic team. In London, he dropped his opening bout 13-11 to Australia’s Damien Hooper. When asked what went wrong, he simply says, “I didn’t finish strong.” He did embrace his time in London though, and as for the loss, it’s fuel for the future.
“The experience was great, something that happens once in a lifetime, and I’m using it as a motivational factor,” said Browne. “Floyd Mayweather’s last loss was in the Olympic Games, and I’m gonna try and do the same things he did after it.”
A slick southpaw with some pop in his mitts, Browne has the raw talent to go far in the game, and with the man who helped get him to London, longtime coach Gary Stark Sr., back in the corner, he’s got the confidence that he will achieve his dreams of a world championship in the pros. It makes you wonder just how much of an impact it had on Browne not having Stark in the corner in the Olympics. The fighter isn’t shy when it comes to that topic.
“That person got me to the Games, so to not have him in the corner, they know the buttons to push to get you going and keep you focused in the fight,” he said. “They know what to tell you when you come back to the corner and they know exactly what to do. But that’s no excuse, because when I went to the Qualifiers I was without my trainer and I did my thing out there, so I don’t want to blame that. But it still plays a factor because at the end of the day, that’s the person you’re most comfortable with being in your corner because he’s the one who got you where you were, so it speaks for itself.”
He’s right, and it’s just another in a list of reasons why the United States amateur boxing program has fallen on hard times. But for Browne, that’s all in the past now, and though it seems almost like yesterday since the 21-year-old was wearing the red, white, and blue in the Olympics, the little over three months since the Games have given him plenty of fire for the next chapter in his career.
“I was able to get hungry again, and that’s the most important thing in this sport – staying hungry.”
It helps to also be able to adjust to life with small gloves and without headgear, and when asked about this topic, Browne laughs.
“I’m gonna have to find out on Friday. It’s a bridge that you have to cross when you get there, and the most important thing is staying sharp and staying mentally focused.”
Focus never was going to be an issue for Marcus Browne before the first fight of his pro career. But after the events in his hometown last week, he’s got even more incentive to not just win, but win big.
For Staten Island.
“Now after Hurricane Sandy, the community’s been hit hard, so I feel like I’ve gotta do more of a job now and represent where I’m from,” he said. “People have been really affected by this, and I want to give them something to cheer for in these bad times.”