Cyclone's son takes dad's advice to Hart

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Boxer Jesse Hart , son of legendary Philly fighter Eugene 'Cyclone' Hart, stretches before training.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Boxer Jesse Hart , son of legendary Philly fighter Eugene 'Cyclone' Hart, stretches before training.
Posted: May 30, 2013

SOME MAY remember middleweight boxing great Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, who took on some of the world's top prizefighters during the golden age of a sport that has been increasingly undermined over the past 3 decades. From 1969 to '83, Hart was considered one of the hardest pure punchers in Philadelphia's rich boxing history.

Recording 28 knockouts as part of a 30-9-1 record in his storied 14-year campaign, Hart spent part of his career ranked as high as third in the world.

At age 23, Jesse Hart, the son of Cyclone, has been making a name for himself as one of the up and coming middleweight fighters from Philadelphia.

The big question that faces the younger Hart is: What does he need to do in order to get to where he wants to be?

"Keep doing what I'm doing," Hart said.

"Keep the right people around me. My dad and brother-in-law Cory McDonald, Danny Davis, Fred Jenkins. These are all a part of the team. These guys I know can take me to the next level.

"You can't be stuck in the same position because I'm not in the same position that I was as an amateur."

"I'm a pro now so it's different. There are different tricks of the trade."

As an amateur, Hart won Golden Gloves titles at 165 and 178 pounds. He concluded his amateur career with an an 89-11 record and turned pro last summer. In March of last year, he fell one fight short of earning a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team after losing on a double tiebreaker to Terrell Gausha in the USA National Boxing Championships.

"I give myself a 'C' performance for that fight. It had been the second time I faced him and my psyche wasn't there. I had beaten him before and I still almost beat him again," Hart said.

Despite the minor hiccup to conclude his amateur career, Hart has regained his supremacy over the competition as a professional. The 6-2 Hart is 6-0 with five knockouts.

On Saturday, Hart is scheduled to meet middleweight Thomas Turner (3-3) at Bally's Event Center in Atlantic City. The bout is set to start at 7 p.m.

Hart's success resembles that of his father, and the younger Hart uses the constant comparisons to fuel his determination to be great.

"Everything that he did in his day, they expect me to do now. He fought great fighters like Kitten Hayward, Bennie Briscoe, Willie 'The Worm' Monroe and he stood up against those guys. He was great, but everyone expects me to better," Hart said.

"No matter who I'm fighting there's always high expectations of me and that's the pressure that my dad and others have put on me. It makes me who I am today, a great fighter. I'm carrying a legacy and I know I can't slip. That's why I work so hard. I'm not there yet but I'm trying."

Growing up at 28th and Berks, in a rough North Philadelphia neighborhood, Hart attributes a lot his success to the mentoring he got from his father, both in and out of the ring.

"My father put the gloves in the house when I was young, so I took them and ran with it. I've been boxing ever since I could remember. I credit my dad with a lot of my success, because if it wasn't for him I don't think I would be here right now. You had a lot of guys' fathers who ran out on them, and I think that with my success and everything that I was able to accomplish in this sport is a credit to him."

As a teenager, Hart remembers his dad going as far as threatening to break his legs after finding out that Jesse made the basketball team at Thomas FitzSimons High. The old-school Hart wanted to keep his offspring focused on boxing.

"He surrounded me with the right people in order to keep me out of trouble and away from the streets. He kept me focused and hungry and I think that has given me the edge in staying hungry and to never let up," Hart said.

In preparation for Saturday, Hart has undergone a regimen of three workouts a day over the past 6 weeks. As a result of his rigorous training, Hart was more than confident sharing his prediction on the outcome.

"I've been training way too hard for this. He [Turner] just has to come get knocked out, and go home because that's what's going to happen."

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