Hey, get a load of this kid, will you?
You likely haven’t heard of him yet, and I won’t pretend I know that his name will be on lips by the end of next year, which is when Nicholas “King Beamen” Givhan tells me he should be getting title shot, but by virtue of his personality, which is present and should be accounted for, because he’s a character, and I never get tired of them, let me share a bit more about this guy.
He’s 12-0, with 9 Kos, and fights out of Michigan. A 28-year-old welterweight, he’s so far feasted on a diet of mostly the usual suspects types, but will soon be hopping onto a fancier stage, on a ShoBox or the like, he told me on a recent phoner.
“You can dare to compare, but there’s only one ‘King Beamen,” he tells me, in a pleasantly cocky way, with an air of being in on the joke, of fronting for a buzz building purpose, not because he’s an insufferable ego. “I’m focused on being great at 140, I’m aiming to be great at 140. And my favorite blueprint is my shoeprint…because I’m not going anywhere!”
OK then, I’m listening, and liking, because you cracking me up, man. You got my attention, bro. Now, where’d you come from?
Turns out he’s one of nine kids, seven brothers, two sisters, all of whom were overseen by mom Joyce. Single mom, dad didn’t do the right thing and stick by, do his part, sounds like. Married more to the streets than the humdrum hard part of being there for the diapers, the bawling, the keeping up with the bills, the numbing drudgery…
“But with all those brothers, I didn’t really need him, I wasn’t really missing nothing,” he tells me. “And if he was there, I wouIdn’t have what I do, twice the desire.”
In Kalamazoo, Michigan, the streets called Nicholas, and he danced with them some. “I was somewhat of a problem child, but never to the point I was not going to succeed,” he explains. School and him didn’t always get along…Late in high school, he was at a place where he was one of three black kids of about 75. He was expelled for fighting, got into a physical beef with a teacher, smashed up a white kid who called his sister vile racist names. Sounds like that punk earned himself a tattoo job…
So, sounds like there was a purpose there even in his missteps, while “my other friends were messing up just to mess up.”
Nick started boxing at 13, but really, before that, scrapping with the other Ghivan boys. “We were whaling, no ref, no holds barred, just swung,” he recalls. “I’ve been beating up most of my brothers since I was five. That gave me heart.” Getting the shorter end of the stick, having to keep standing when seeing stars, when the brain is screaming drop, but the pride is kicking in, the innate need to defeat the urge to fold is barking, that gave him some of the heart he says will be on display when he gets, soon, the sort of fights he wants, against the Keith Thurmans, and the like.
As for fighting style, Ghivan says we will be reminded of a young James Toney, lots of working in the pocket, using head and torso movement to make em miss, and be close enough to deliver the potent response. Coach Terence Thompson learned that style from Bill “Pops” Miller, a Cinci guy who taught the craft in Detroit, an ace craftsman and teacher who liked guys with talent, yes, but wasn’t as keen to work with them if they didn’t show that heart needed when the brain screams for capitulation but needs over-riding if one wants to succeed beyond expectations.
The kid speaks my language when he tells me he likes KOs, because who wants to let ninnies masquerading as judges have the last say, what with so many of them needing glasses, or judging classes, or anti-corruption cleansing.
More about this character…the “Beamen” tag arrived when he reminded some people of the person Jaime Foxx played in “Any Given Sunday.”
And the “King” thing…he’s had a bunch of cage fights, taken care of business there, so he’s a “king” of the cage.
His abs are, some tell me, to die for, and I ask about them, and he says, “Yeah, I don’t like to toot my own horn, but that’s about right.” Is anyone else close to me in that department? “I’m pretty much a league of my own.”
We should see those abs and the rest of the Ghivan experience sometime next month, maybe on ShoBox. He is in talks with heavy hitters, the top dog advisors, and hears from Don King’s son Carl all the time. They seem to sense the kid can yap, but has the good head on shoulders. He knows most of the best fighters come from those humble or sub humble places, and he too is using that history to fuel him. He will keep that in the front and the back of his mind, how mom worked factory jobs, first and third shift, slept barely at all, to keep her kids above water.
“I wouldn’t be the fighter or the man I am if not for her,” he tells me, and which I will hammer home, because God bless the Joyces of this world, doing the right thing, pushing herself past the point of mental and physical exhaustion to keep her family together. If this nation weren’t under the thrall of predatory capitalism, and a ‘race to the bottom’ wage milieu for all but the luckiest of laborers, there wouldn’t be so many Joyces, but as you and I know, our nation’s “profits over people” mindset adhered to and practiced by the titans means people are working two, three jobs, just to tread water. American exceptionalism, indeed…
“I want to do my job and work hard enough so she can take it easy, get the retirement she wants and deserves,” he tells me. “She’s really why I train three times a day. That’s why I give up everything a man loves…late nights, sex, food. I do nothing to jeopardize my future success.”
So mark it down, put this decent soul on your watch list, and yes, root for him an extra measure, because I think he “deserves” it, and his mama does too…
“By the end of next year, I should be fighting big names, I should be 17-0 by summer, I want Thurman, or Shawn Porter. Yeah, I’d like to get in with Porter.. but I’d prefer Thurman, like to get in with him and brawl. Anybody, yeah! 2015 is going to be a better year for boxing. And as long as boxing got me, it won’t die after Mayweather leaves.”
Follow Woods on Twitter, for more boxing news, and rants about predatory capitalism.