Fighter aims for another try

Jesse Hart , the son of Eugene "Cyclone" Hart and a student at Northern Michigan, hopes to make the 2012 Olympics team.
Jesse Hart , the son of Eugene "Cyclone" Hart and a student at Northern Michigan, hopes to make the 2012 Olympics team.
Posted: July 31, 2010

It had been over a week since boxer Jesse Hart returned from the 2010 USA Boxing National Championships, and the Philadelphian was still bristling over his loss in the middleweight final.

On July 17 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Hart was edged, 9-8, in a tiebreaker after the fight ended in a 4-4 tie. The bout was decided on punches connected and Jesse disagreed with the tally. And while Luis Arias of Milwaukee took home the No. 1 ranking, Hart had to settle for No. 2.

"That was hard to swallow," he said. "I feel bitter a little bit. I won it. The whole crowd knew I won it."

All is not lost for the 21-year-old Hart.

A potential 2012 Olympian with an amateur record of 37-6, Hart will soon begin his sophomore year at Northern Michigan University on a boxing scholarship. And guiding his career is his father, none other than Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, who had a distinguished middleweight career fighting out of Philadelphia from 1969 to 1982.

The elder Hart, a knockout artist who finished with a 30-9-2 record and 28 KOs, lost major fights against the likes of Willie "The Worm" Monroe, Bobby "Bugaloo" Watts, Mustafa Muhammad, Marvin Hagler and Vito Antuofermo.

But in an all-timer against favored Bennie Briscoe at the Spectrum, Hart came out with a draw. Briscoe, however, won the rematch.

"I had Hagler beat for eight rounds, and they [Hart's corner] threw in the towel in the ninth," the 59-year-old Hart remembered. "I tried to catch the towel."

His years in the ring ended at age 31, after he suffered a gunshot wound in an encounter on the streets of Philadelphia. That was before Jesse was born. The son was 7 when his father started taking him to the gym.

"He was hyperactive, and I took him to the gym to calm him down," said Hart, who is a member of the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame. "I didn't want to take him to a doctor for pills and things like that. His family background was boxing - me. Now, he's beginning to be an outstanding fighter. And he can hit like his father."

And that father wanted Jesse to get an education.

Through his friend, Al Mitchell, a former U.S. Olympic head coach who runs the U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan, Cyclone Hart was able to get his son in the program at the school in Marquette, Mich.

The nation's only residential boxing program, the USOEC generally houses 15 to 20 boxers at a time.

"I didn't get the education I should have gotten," said the father, who retired from a job with the city. "Because anything can happen in boxing, I wanted Jesse to have enough education that he could continue on with his life. I made a way. I was working when I was fighting."

Jesse Hart is majoring in psychology.

"It's a good experience for me," said the younger Hart, who is part of a family that included four sisters and three brothers. "I'm the first in my family to go to college."

Hart - who qualified for the USA National Boxing Championship as an at-large entry out of Michigan - won three of his bouts in the event by stoppages. He was a 15-5 winner in the match that landed him in the final where he suffered the narrow loss.

Next up for the Harts is earning a spot on the Olympic team.

"I'm hoping and praying that we can go to the Olympics," Cyclone Hart said. "We made a decision that we would like to shake Obama's hand [as Olympic champions]. Him being president is history. To shake his hand would be big-time."

Jesse Hart took motivation from his recent defeat.

"I don't feel satisfied," he said. "I will not be satisfied until I'm No. 1. I feel I should be No. 1 in the country. Sooner of later, I'm going to be No. 1, and I'm going to be on the Olympic team. Everybody at the nationals knows that Jesse Hart is the one to go."


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|