Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
As children on the school yard we were often given the task to line up and let captains pick teams so that we could play some type of school yard game. As adults, could you imagine if you had the same ability to line people up and simply “pick teams” for your life or for your favorite sports?
If given this ability, there is no doubt in my mind people would describe their ideal first pick as someone talented, hard working, humble, smart, experienced and driven. These quintessential champion-like characteristics are the same ways many people would describe the now rising professional boxer, Jamel “Sempre Fi” Herring.
Herring is an undefeated professional boxer from Coram, New York with seven of his 11 wins coming by way of knockout. He is also a former Marine and previous United States boxing Olympian who completed in the 2012 games in London. Jamel is scheduled to take on Oscar Cortes (25-2, 13 KOs) June 26, 2015 live on Showtime in a lightweight showdown on the Dominic Wade vs. Sam Soliman card in Shelton, Washington.
When I spoke with Herring and asked about his opponent Cortes he said, “He is still young, but he has a ton of fights, but recently I can tell that he hasn‘t been as active.” “You can never take any opponent lightly, for me I am expecting the best Oscar Cortes.”
This lightweight battle will be Herring’s second time on television, the first occurring nearly three years ago. Herring is excited to be back on television and feels that this is a great opportunity to be able to showcase his talent to a larger audience. “I’m excited to go, you know just go out there and do what I have to do,” said Herring.
Semper Fi has made a place for himself in the world of social media and has gained a dedicated following by simply discussing life and boxing with fans. “In today’s world you know you can just reach out to your fans anytime you want, I take that to my advantage. I communicate with everybody because I think of myself as just as normal as the next person out there, the only difference is with me, I just preform, in terms of my job, to a bigger audience,” said Herring.
Herring has a humble air about him for someone that has accomplished such great things at only 29 years old. “A lot of people are satisfied, just being a vet, but I always strive for more because you know you only live once. I just try to make the most out of life. I always tell everybody, this is just the beginning even though there are guys that respect everything that I have done in terms of being an athlete or a veteran. I always have that hunger and ambition to go further,” said Herring.
In his upcoming fight Herring looks to gain new fans and also put on a show for his current fan base. “I am a guy that is going to show class and what the true meaning of hard work is about. I’ve never been the flashiest boxer, but my hard work alone will defeat a lot of guys out there.”
Herring is no stranger to adversity as he was deployed to Iraq twice as a Marine. Jamel explained that his time spent in the Marines has made him a more prepared boxer because it molded him into the person he is today. “Just being in Iraq for so long, I spoke with guys and you know a week later they lost their lives. Being in the military it disciplines you, it matures you, and for me it just made me appreciate life a lot more than I once did,” said a reflective Herring.
Herring feels he is well prepared for this fight and attributes much of that readiness to his camp and his trainer Mike Stafford. When Herring chose to not reenlist to the Marines, he made his transition to the world of professional boxing and signed with Al Haymon. Herring agreed to move to Cincintatti, Ohio to work with trainer Mike Strafford full time and has remained with him ever since. “I look at Mike as like a father figure, it’s more than just boxing with us. You know we talk about things, we hang out, we share stories,” said Herring.
Stafford has a stable of fighters in Cincinnati that many trainers would dream to acquire. The top of that roster being professionals such as three-time world champion Adrien Broner, Robert Easter Jr. and Rau’shee Warren. Herring is currently training in Las Vegas, NV with Stafford and a few of his other stablemates at Floyd Mayweather’s gym. Jamel has also been able to train at other well respected gyms such as Headbangers Gym in Washington, D.C. He feels that training in different gyms throughout the nation has allowed him to grow his craft.
“You know you always get different types of styles in those areas. I always learn new things from the people in different locations. I can train anywhere and be comfortable, but what I really get out of other training camps and sites is the style. I am to able see and prepare [for different styles of opponents],” said Herring.
During his times spent at Headbangers, Herring has often been able to work first hand with former IBF Light Welterweight Champion, Lamont Peterson, with whom he developed a family like bond. Peterson’s patience in stopping to teach and coach Herring during sparring sessions, as well as welcoming him like family, has made Peterson a role model in which Herring respects and hopes to emulate as his own career continues to progress.
“Outside of my [own] camp, I really admire Lamont Peterson. Those guys took the time and they look at me as just family. When I speak to [Lamont] one on one, you can basically tell that he’s trying to help me and he just wants me to get better, and I respect that, because you know you go some places and some guys that are already at the top level won’t even bother to speak with you. That’s mainly the reason why… I take the time to answer peoples questions,” said an appreciative Herring.
Herring himself takes pride in family bonds much like Peterson. When I asked Herring who he most admires in life he said it would have to be his mother. “My mother has been through a lot from the time we were younger until now, but she always made the time to support me and basically made me a stronger person, inside and outside the ring. Even to this day I consider my mom my best friend. She is really a strong woman and that just motivates me to do better in life as a human being overall,” said Herring.
Herring is also a parent himself and feels that boxing has allowed himself the ability to show his children what it is like to achieve great things in life. “With my little ones, I took the sport [of boxing] more serious. They are looking up to me and I have to lead by example. If you are a role model you have to start doing things right. I take my career serious because I have to provide not only for me, but I have to provide for them. Boxing has made me a better person overall,” said Herring.
Herring possesses the essence of a rising champion in life as well as in the boxing ring. He hopes that his June 26 fight on Showtime will allow people to see his hard working and unbreakable spirit. “I have been through so much in my personal life, and I look at boxing, and think what can [an opponent] really do that’s going to break me mentally,” said Herring.
“I just like to work hard, I go out there and I work hard and just fight my heart out. The [Showtime] viewers are not going to see a guy on June 26 that can’t be broken [and will not be] backing down, so they can expect to see a good fight,” said Herring.
As Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring makes his Showtime boxing debut his fans will no doubt tune in to show their support. Herring is thankful for his fans and knows that their continued backing will help him to reach his goals. “Of course the main goal is to become a world champion, but I don’t want to just be a title holder, I want to be a guys who unifies the division or wins titles in multiple divisions,” said Herring.
As you tune in on June 26 and unwind in front of your television, chances are you will find yourself rooting for someone talented, hard working, humble, smart, experienced and driven, like Herring–a real life champion.