by David P. Greisman
When Dusty Hernandez-Harrison fought earlier this year, his father and lifelong trainer, Buddy Harrison, wasn’t in his corner.
At the time, there were conflicting accounts about why that was — with Buddy saying he and Dusty were no longer working together, while a spokesman for Dusty had said Buddy was not there for that one bout only and that his recent health scare was the reason.
Dusty recently confirmed that Buddy is longer training him, and that the relationship between son and father — both personal and professional — is something that is still being worked out.
“I felt like my personal life was interfering with boxing,” Dusty told BoxingScene.com on Feb. 29. “When you have your dad in your corner, it’s always family. At the end of the day I’m a fighter. It’s what I do. It’s my job. So I can’t let my personal life interfere with boxing.
“I’m sure everybody will think like it’s just another fighter leaving behind the people he started with, but it truly is personal stuff. And I’m sure that’s a common excuse, but it’s not things I want to talk about. It’s not stuff that people outside of the family need to know. I’m OK. I’m willing to accept the bashing. They don’t know the truth,” he said. Soon, he added: “I’m still young. I’m still fighting every few months. I have something scheduled. I can’t go in there without a clear mind. Boxing is very mental.”
Buddy contacted BoxingScene.com in January prior to Dusty’s fight with Angel Hernandez.
“Around three or four weeks ago, he decided that he no longer needed me as a manager or as a trainer,” Buddy told BoxingScene.com “He stopped coming to my gym and decided to get sparring at several other local gyms for this Jan. 29 fight.”
Buddy said at the time that the split was because he and Dusty have a different view on training.
“I believe that training for a fight remains the same as it did 50 years ago. I think a fighter should be doing roadwork before the break of dawn. Regardless of the weather, it needs to be done,” Buddy said. “I wanted a set schedule. I wanted an exact time to do the roadwork, an exact time to be at the gym, and a set schedule for sparring on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I wanted him to train on Saturday, too.
“I wanted him to be close to his weight much sooner then the day before the weigh-in. He has developed a new way and I am 100 percent against it. He prefers to come to the gym when he feels like it and he also likes to train himself. Hopefully, he continues to win and prove me wrong! He and others will say that I was too hard on him, especially as a young kid. I sometimes wish I had let him slack when he was younger, but would he be where he is today if I would have went easy? I just wanted the same then as I do now. To be the absolute best you can be. This is not a sport to play around with. You need to be in the best shape of your life. I want him to train for every fight as if it were a title fight.”
When reached for comment the night of the Hernandez bout, Mike Walters, a spokesman for Dusty, said there hadn’t been a split. Rather, Walters said, the heart attack Buddy suffered in December had led Dusty to want his father to stay home instead of traveling.
But Dusty says that the timing “just happened to coincide.”
As for the disagreements in training:
“Of course fathers are always going to be tougher on their sons than anybody else,” Dusty said on Feb. 29. “I didn’t have a coach for two or three hours a day. I had a coach 24 hours, seven days a week. Of course we’re going to run into issues.”
Buddy says Dusty had been training with him “since he could walk,” dating back to when they started in the basement of the apartments in which Buddy lives in Washington, D.C. They were together for 197 amateur fights and 28 pro bouts; the 21-year-old Dusty is now 29-0 with 16 KOs as a pro. Buddy claims he never was paid.
“I have never once took one dime from my son!” Buddy said. “My pay was watching him have his hand raised.”
In January, Dusty had Billy Briscoe in his corner. Briscoe is a cutman and trainer who should be familiar to those who’ve watched Gabriel Rosado fight.
“He is a very good trainer and we've both known him for years,” Buddy said in January.
Dusty is no longer training out of his father’s gym in Fort Washington, Maryland, but instead is working in D.C. with Barry Hunter, who works with the Peterson brothers.
“Lamont Peterson and Adrien Broner are there,” Dusty said. “It’s good work, good sparring.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]