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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Local Boxer, Student Counting on Title Fight

Robert “Rico” Hoye didn’t see Laila Ali nearly capture the first place trophy on the most recent season of Dancing With the Stars, but he used to train as a boxer at the same gym she did in Los Angeles—which is a much more impressive accomplishment.

 

Hoye, 33, is a third-generation professional boxer who has been competing for the past seven years as a “light heavyweight,” a weight class that caps at 175 pounds. Hoye is also a South Mountain resident transplanted from Detroit, where he grew up watching his father and grandfather compete.

 

“Now I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps,” he said. Not only is he following the same path but he’s also succeeding: today Hoye’s record is 20-2 with 15 knockouts. He’s competed both nationally and internationally and, in March 2005, he competed for one of the major light heavyweight world title championships. Though he lost that fight to Clinton Woods, Hoye is counting on an opportunity to compete for the International Boxing Federation world title again to make his career feel complete.

 

“At nine I knew I wanted to box,” Hoye recalls. Tagging along with his father to the gym since he was six, at nine he competed and won his first fight in the Golden Gloves, an annual amateur tournament for all ages. Hearing everyone scream his name and cheer, Hoye remembers thinking, “Wow, I accomplished something!”

 

“I take my son with me to the gym now,” he said. Hoye trains twice, sometimes three times a day at Grand Park Gym in Phoenix. For the first time, Hoye is concentrating his training at one gym, as opposed to commuting between here and L.A.

 

Hoye said he hears all the time that he doesn’t seem like a boxer, if a boxer can be described as someone who is better at expressing themselves physically rather than verbally. “I guess it’s just me—I get that all the time,” he said. “I guess I don’t look or sound like one.”

 

In his spare time, he likes to read and is a big fan of the Harry Potter series. He has three kids—TaQira, Robert Tyrico and Imari—and he’s getting married in April to his fiancé, Tamirra, whom he met at Denny’s in Scottsdale one night after a party—“I asked her to please talk to me,” said Hoye, exposing his shy side.

 

At 6’4”, Hoye is more lanky than stocky. He walks around at about 215 pounds (due to his sweet tooth, he says) and recently made the decision to move up a weight class to “cruiser weight,” which starts at 200 pounds.

Other than stitches over both eyes, he hasn’t suffered any major injuries—“I don’t have a tore-up, smashed up face,” he said. But his most striking non-boxer-like trait is his affability and openness. In trade articles about boxing, Hoye is often described as sharply-dressed, likeable, honest and humble.

 

“I really would like to give this another 3 years and then walk away,” Hoye said of his career He is preparing for his future beyond boxing right now, earning an associate’s degree from South Mountain Community College and then planning to transfer to Arizona State to study kinesiology—the study of anatomy, physiology and mechanics of body movement—one day pursuing a career in as a sports trainer or perhaps physical therapy for athletes.

 

Hoye wound up living in the Valley after visiting an aunt here for Christmas. After shoveling his way out of his Michigan driveway to catch his plane and landing in 70-degree weather, he decided to move out.

 

“I went home, got my stuff and came out here,” he said. “And to be completely honest it was a culture shock, coming from Detroit.”

 

But he’s adjusting to the lifestyle.

 

“Unfortunately I’m not into golf yet,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll start playing … hopefully I’ll get some golf clubs this year.”

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