For Eric Priest, there`s no better metaphor for winning than boxing.
Personable, erudite, charming and disarming, rather than in your face soap box syndrome, he frankly and candidly tells Pepe Sulaiman and Nancy Alvarez Rodriguez in a relaxed manner, with just a tinge of a hard edge: “I`m not in this to be average. At one point, I want to say that I was the best in the world at something. I want to know just how good I can be and my biggest fear is not knowing that. I just have to give everything.”
Due to that absolutely all impetus, Eric upped sticks and moved from Kansas to LA, after a decent amateur career, to turn pro and fight his pro debut on Leap Year 2020. This young middleweight is coached by Justine Fortune, who was one of Manny Pacquiao`s trainers. Perhaps no accident that Eric so admires Manny`s speed. But not the idolatry of hero worship of his peers, because: “If I put these guys on a pedestal, I would not be able to be up there with them.”
Eric`s record is 9-0, with 7 KO`s. A 77.78 percent stoppage rate. He describes himself as: “A boxer/puncher. I like to hunt! No one gets paid overtime. At the end of the day, I want to be the one who dictates those exchanges.” As a scene setter, in his first amateur fight at thirteen years old, he dropped his opponent in the first five seconds and ended it in round two!
“Your mind needs to be just as strong as your body. To me, boxing is twenty percent physical and eighty percent mental. The twenty percent is just as hard. I refuse to be a victim. I have to win, not matter what it takes. Motivation changes in time, but I always try to find my purpose. True focus is a line between anger and serenity. I have found peace in that. I can`t think about losing. It`s NOT part of my brain wired code.”
Twenty four year old Eric sat down to share his obvious and considerable intelligence, wit, self-depreciation and down to earth wisdom with Pepe and Nancy in the WBC LA Office for a filmed interview which is part of the ongoing series entitled: “The Interview I`ve never had.”
Eric, who has missed birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and other family celebrations as part of his sacrifices and is still single, is a good catch, as he deftly reacts to grab some old gloves in mid-air, which are tossed to him. They symbolize the evolution in boxing and one of the most cherished safety rules instituted by the WBC. The thumb area in this old battered pair is detached rather than attached/fused. In the old days there were far more detatched retinas as a result of freeform thumbs gouging eyeballs.
It’s hard for non- boxers to fully appreciate the casual even nonchalant way in which fighters describe their injuries, brushing them off because for them the only option is to persevere. Eric says that his jaw was dislocated, so he popped it back in himself and finished the fight. In his third fight, one of his eardrums was perforated by a shot which he ruefully admits, he should never have been caught with. So dealing with a cop that pop sensation, he went on to KO his opponent in the very next round.
It’s honed instincts much more than a thinking process. Eric explains: “That`s the whole point. You rely on every instinct of your training. All of it has led up to this moment. Your body is moving fast, but your mind is moving slow.”
One interesting aspect of fighting in the ring, is locked into the concept of space. During training and sparring, often as not you`re in a room where you can see and gauge the walls. But on fight night, you`re fighting in an open space before a crowd which acts as your backdrop, space and proportion and it`s necessary to adapt concerning range plus distance.
Eric has not yet had to fight a friend, but is very matter of fact about it, stressing: “We`ll be friends afterwards and I`ll buy him a drink. Before that…let the best man win! During those minutes, I`m going to crack you as hard as I can and as many times as I can. It`s not personal. This is sport.”
And this is where Eric wants to be and what he`s doing. He mused: “When I`m hitting a bag, sparring and training I`m in Heaven. This is euphoria for me. This is my place. This is where I feel myself.” Like the very first word of the Irving Berlin classic Dancing Cheek to Cheek.
Strange that such an attractive and personable boxer hasn`t yet acquired a nickname moniker. Eric is open to polite suggestions.
Why not: Eric “The Rev” Priest? This is a young man who does and achieves it as it is, rather than preaching or pontificating!
See it all for yourself: