Dad-led boxing program leads to title bout for son
Dallas boxer, 31, has chance to fulfill his dad’s dream
About the time the storied boxing club at the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club was ending its run, Greg Hatley Sr. launched his own program designed especially for his sons. On Saturday, Charles Hatley will fight for the WBC 154-pound world title.
About the time the storied but on-the-ropes boxing club at the nearby Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club was ending its run a quarter century ago, alum Greg Hatley Sr. launched his own program designed especially for his sons, Greg Jr. and Charles.
Father had little choice, he believed. He was intent on his boys becoming fighters, and Taylor August, who had trained the father and hundreds of other amateurs, was closing up shop in Oak Cliff and moving to a gym in East Dallas.
“I played all kinds of sports but nothing did for me what boxing did,” Greg Hatley Sr. said last week while proudly leading a tour of his homemade gym. “Boxing taught discipline and responsibility like nothing else.”
At first Greg Sr., now a retired Dallas firefighter who owns a construction and roofing business, set up his boxing gym in the family garage. About six years ago he realized his dream by converting into a gym a once upon a time stable on the family’s three acres in
“I played all kinds of sports but nothing did for me what boxing did. Boxing taught discipline and responsibility like nothing else.” Greg Hatley Sr., who trains his son, Charles Hatley
the shadow of Interstate 45 just south of East Illinois Avenue.
Greg Sr.’s dream had been for both sons to someday compete for world championships under his tutelage as their manager and trainer. But an injured shoulder forced Greg Jr., a light heavyweight who had forged a 12-1 record, to retire at age 30 in 2014.
That left Charles to carry the Hatley banner in the fight game.
Charles is 31 now and fights at 154 pounds, 21 less than his big brother. He has sweated diligently away from the limelight since climbing into the ring at 8 years old for the first of his 262 amateur fights. In 2008, he made it all the way to alternate for the U.S. Olympic boxing team.
Now, at long last, Charles Hatley, who has won 28 of 30 professional fights, has his shot at the spotlight.
Come Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with his manager/trainer/father in his corner, Charles will challenge undefeated champion Jermell Charlo of Houston for the WBC’s 154-pound world title.
Father and son have been diligently working closely in preparing.
While Charles, his wife Shawna, their 11-year-old son Charles Jr. and daughter, Jada, 8, live in Frisco, the fighter returned to stay at his parents’ Oak Cliff house while training. It’s right next to the gym.
“Man, I miss going home,” Charles Hatley said the other day, estimating that it had been a month since he slept in his own bed. “But what I finally have now is the chance of a lifetime.”
If you don’t recognize the names Charles Hatley or Jermell Charlo you might be more familiar with the three previous WBC 154-pound champions. Floyd Mayweather Jr. owned that super welterweight title. So did Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao.
Now that you’ve got that lineage straight, here comes a tangled web in the Charles Hatley story that takes us back to the Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club.
Charlo’s trainer is Derrick James, who once fought out of the Oak Cliff club where he and Greg Sr. were teammates. Both trained under the watchful eye of Taylor August, a volunteer coach who still leads the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights in Dallas.
That is the same Taylor August, now 83, who has advised Greg Hatley Sr. as he prepared his sons for their fights over the years.
Should Hatley defeat the favored Charlo, he would become only the third boxing world champion Dallas has ever produced.
August trained the second, Quincy Taylor, at the Boys & Girls Club. He guided Taylor to the WBC middleweight (160 pounds) world championship. Taylor’s reign lasted only seven months in the mid-1990s. But he held the title nonetheless.
Over the years, Greg Sr. also sought sage advice from Dallas’ pre-eminent boxer, Curtis Cokes. He reigned as the undisputed welterweight (147 pounds) champion of the world back in the late 1960s. That Cokes trained fighters at his own gym mattered little. When needed, Cokes has provided advice and guidance to the Hatley sons.
Here’s another sliver that might perk up local interest beyond Dallas’ rabid but relatively tiny boxing community. Four weeks after Hatley’s fight, his acquaintance and sometime sparring mate Errol Spence Jr. of DeSoto, who is also trained by James, will meet England’s Kell Brook, for the IBF slice of the welterweight world title.
In recent weeks, Spence has been training with and sparred with Charlo, helping him prepare for whatever the Hatleys throw at him.
Still, by May 27, should Charles Hatley and Spence both win, Dallas could double the number of world champions it has produced.
“Dallas could be back on the boxing map,” Charles Hatley said.
Charles Hatley traveled to Australia for his last fight. On Nov. 11, 2015, he upset Sydney’s Anthony Mundine for the WBC’s silver 154-pound championship. It is a title that Charles Hatley is proud of, but it should not be mistaken for a world title.
“Charlie was brought in to be the opponent in that fight,” August, the sage advisor explained. “But he surprised them.”
Translation: Charles Hatley was imported to be fodder for the favored Mundine. Instead, he knocked the 40year-old Mundine down four times before the fight was stopped in the 11th round. That earned Hatley, knocked down once by Mundine, his shot at Charlo.
Once again, Hatley finds himself the underdog against Charlo.
Several months after returning from Australia, Charles Hatley, with his trainer and manager father at his side, signed a promotional contract with Don King.
Tired of their independent route that had produced mostly club fights, they decided to try a more conventional path to big-time fights.
But the Hatley’s contend that King, the legendary promoter on the downside of his own career, didn’t follow through on a commitment to get Charles fights in 2016. They filed a lawsuit against King earlier this month. It has been 17 months since Hatley’s fight in Australia.
King told boxingnewsonline.net he felt sucker punched.
“Charles is the same fighter that couldn’t get a title shot from his previous promoter, and I turn around after he comes to me to help him,” King told the website. “I deliver him a title shot and he delivers me papers.”
Not mentioned by King was this detail: The HatleyCharlo matchup was mandated by the WBC.
Stand and deliver
There’s nothing pretty about Charles Hatley’s style in the ring. He doesn’t dance or feint. He’s physically strong and is content to make opponents slug it out. He has been known to take a punch in order to land a more devastating blow.
Hatley (26-1-1 with 18 knockouts) has won nine consecutive bouts — eight in Dallas — since suffering the only defeat of his career at Dallas’ Fairmont Hotel. The fight had to be stopped in the first round after an overwhelmed Hatley reinjured a damaged an anterior cruciate ligament he had torn while playing football in high school. Surgery followed the fight. At 26, Charlo (28-0 with 13 KOs) will easily be the best opponent Hatley has ever fought. He’s light on his feet, a tactician who has been polished by James into a meticulous boxer. But he’s not a heavy puncher.
“This could be the skilled fighter vs. the brawler,” James said. “I believe we have the younger, better, fresher fighter.”Greg Hatley Sr., who no longer exchanges pleasantries with his former Oak Cliff Boys’ & Girls club teammate, countered. “We have the stronger fighter who won’t be denied,” he said.
Charles Hatley said he will box Charlo when necessary or he will simply bang away.
“Depends on the fight,” he said. “I will adapt to my opponent. This is going to be something else.”
A world champion for a Dallas, its first since 1996, may just the “something else” Charles Hatley has in mind.
With the movie Rocky playing on the flat screen television, Charles Hatley (left) prepared for Saturday’s WBC welterweight title fight with his coach and father, Greg Hatley, at the family’s gym in a former stable in Southeast Oak Cliff.
Charles Hatley won the WBC Silver Champion belt in the 154-pound class when he upset Anthony Mundine in Australia in November 2015.