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Former Champion Sees the Beauty after Life in the Belly of the Beast

“Boxing is a beautiful sport that is filled with a pool of unscrupulous, ugly people, but so it is in life, you can’t worry about that.” If anybody knows the unforgiving side of the sport of boxing it is Willy Wise. “I had to fight for everything both inside and outside of the ring, nothing was given to me, but plenty was taken away, ” said Wise when he was shown an August 2000 article showing how a temperamental Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. used his influence to have him removed from the undercard of an upcoming fight in which he (Chavez) would be fighting Kostya Tszyu. I suppose it says as much about my naivety as it does about his character as a man and a fighter. I didn’t even know how that happened until now. I just trusted the people around me to manage all of my affairs both in and outside of the ring. Big mistake.”

Wise in a brief workout with young lion, Brandon Dupree of Crossroads Boxing Gym in Gadsden, Alabama

Yet, his love for the sport of boxing has prevented him from holding any bitterness. “I did something that few people get the opportunity to do. I spent more than 20 years doing what I loved to do, box. What more can you ask for?” Today, the more experienced 43-year old has shifted his attention to doing a better job of ushering other young people through the business of boxing than he was shown. “I have a lot to share with young people now. Get involved with your own career, outside of the ring. Count and manage your own money. Trust very few and no one who wasn’t there from before the journey began, and even some of them will have to be shed if you are going to be successful. Always fight fair, never dirty, then you can be proud of your victories and hold your head up in your defeats, that’s what you will remember when it’s all over. Most of all only do it if you love it, not for the things that you can gain from it, that’s where regret will come in later.”

Now residing in Alabama, Wise is currently recruiting for the “Wiseguys” the amateur team that he will train starting in early 2011. Wise believes that Alabama presents a great opportunity to be an example for restoring boxing to its former glory. “With a new commission, they have the opportunity here to do it right, to promote boxing for the love of the sport and in the best interests of the young people who are making the physical sacrifice. There are too many people involved in boxing who never really spent any time in a ring and don’t understand the sacrifice of the fighter. You cannot get fighting out of a book.”

He hopes to be able to introduce a consistent flow of well-trained boxers to the sport from the state of Alabama. Since boxing is relatively new to the state, highly skilled trainers are not abundant in supply. “If Alabama is to become a true contender in the Golden Gloves , Olympics and on the professional circuit, good training is a necessity. My mission is to focus on the whole person, not just the fighter but the person who loves to fight. “

Having come from relative obscurity to his New York Golden Gloves and New York State Championships, his year 2000 upset of the year in defeating Chavez, and IBO World Championship Wise understands that fighters must be prepared to respond in the moment that opportunity presents itself. “Everybody poses a threat if given the right tools. I can train anyone to be a world class boxer, I can nurture discipline, but I cannot teach passion.” He also believes that young people need the right support system as they proceed through the ranks of amateur and professional boxing. “I had a lot of people around me, but my support system was very weak, hence the opportunity for me to be taken advantage of was ever-present.”

Wise is also carefully selecting a small stable of pros with whom he will work closely. “Boxing gets a bad rap for being the most unscrupulous. It is no different than every other business in which high-currency transactions are made. Sleeze is sleeze. (But) I have seen enough loss to last me for a lifetime. I refuse to see or God-forbid take part in what happened to me with another young person. No kid will experience my intentional abuse of their inexperience or trust, not on my watch.” While he is not yet willing to name names, Wise says that he is currently engaged in talks with a handful of fighters from his home state of New York, North Carolina and even one outside of the United States. “Slowly but surely, he says, it took me nearly 20 years to get to the Big House, but I made it. That’s the same way I’m going to build this next empire, slowly but surely. The foundation of this one will be solid. I’m wiser now, pun intended.” Prospects can contact Wise’s office through his website at

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