By Sylvana Ambrosanio

06/12/13

"Growing up in southwest Detroit and going to Ecorse and River Rouge schools, there was fights and riots virtually every day. The way my friends made it seem so exciting, and I wanted to be that. Especially I was picked on a lot in school. Once a Kronk fighter, always a Kronk fighter. Like I told someone before “me going to Kronk, was like a sheep being raised by wolves”. Kronk is only for the strong and I’ve been there for years." Amateur boxer Andre Murray Jr. speaks to SylvanaBoxing. Check it out!

SA: Andre, thanks for taking the time to talk to SylvanaBoxing today. How are you?

AM: I’m fine, just work, work, work. Thanks for having me.

SA: How about we start off with introducing you to our readers?

AM: I was born André M. Murray Jr. Born to Michelle Butler and André Murray Sr. I’m a family man. I’m the oldest out of two sisters (15 and 13) and one brother (9). I front line for my immediate family at any cost. I like to play pool, hangout. I’m open to just about anything. I LOVE pb&j! My favorite movie thus far is American Gangster. I got mad love for Denzel, I’m single at this point in time, ain’t a whole lot I don’t like.

SA: How and where did you grow up?

AM: I grew up all over Detroit. It was a rough upbringing growing up. I spent most of my life in the southwest-downriver area of Detroit and in the Brightmoor area of Detroit. My mom and I were always moving. I was abused by her husband at the time. It was rough between going home to get beat up, then go to school and get picked on?! Yeah, rough lol.

SA: Do you still go to school, or do you work? Do you try to do boxing full time?

AM: I was in college for a while, but with school, you have to be 100% focused. I had other stuff going on in my life. I work full-time at a hot stamping factory. It interferes with my boxing life tremendously! My job is not meant for amateur fighters at all.

SA: What role does boxing play in your life? Is it more like a game to you or a lifestyle?

AM: Boxing is my soul. Hell, it’s my instagram name (laughs). It made me mature fast, and it’s such an art! I love it like no other.

SA: What got you into boxing in the first place? Where did you start boxing and why did you choose boxing?

AM: Growing up in southwest Detroit and going to Ecorse and River Rouge schools, there was fights and riots virtually every day. The way my friends made it seem so exciting, and I wanted to be that. Especially I was picked on a lot in school. And I noticed after my first fight, I got a little bit more respect, and that’s all I wanted at that point. Then I graduated to getting jumped and all that other stuff. So when I saw Olympic boxing on TV, (André Ward to be exact), I was 13 at the time. I kept hearing André this, André that, and it sounded so good to hear, plus he made it look sweet, and I knew I wanted to be an athlete all my life, and I was still learning about myself. So I told my mom I wanted to box at age 15. So from 13-15 I was lifting, exercising, my mom couldn’t afford weights, so I had grocery bags filled with old magazines and lifted them. I hung up my book bag with a plug as a puching bag. I just knew I was the s***! So finally at 15, I told my mom I wanted to box, my mom was always supportive, so I looked through the yellow pages and I saw Motor City Boxing. I caught the bus all the way to the east side of Detroit got a workout of a lifetime! But, I couldn’t do that every day. Then I wasted two years of my boxing life at Cooper’s. Boy, was that a waste. (laughs) I knew boxing is what I wanted more of though!

SA: You are now an amateur with a record of 1-4 and recently fought the in the Golden Gloves. Before you went back in the Golden Gloves you stopped boxing for three years. Can you tell us your “underdog story”?

AM: I don’t have an outstanding amateur career, like a lot of fighters. My training is off and on honestly. But when I do train, I goes HARD! I haven’t fought in three years because I was on “fight punishment”. My third loss, Sugar Hill stopped me in between rounds at the golden gloves championship in metro Detroit. He was really upset at that loss, along with all my other supporters. I didn’t have such a good start in my amateur career, I was still trying to figure out my style of fighting for a while. But, I don’t trip on that, because a lot of great fighters didn’t have such a great amateur career, some styles just aren’t meant for the amateurs. I hope to improve it before I turn pro, but I can’t technically blame anyone but myself for my wins or my losses.

SA: What do you have planned next and through 2013?

AM: That, my friend, is a secret. But I will say I plan to take a big risk and let my faith in God pull me through but my short time goal is get my family out of poverty. My long term goal is keep my family out of poverty.

SA: You are part of the Kronk Gym, and have had the chance to train and be with the late Emanuel Steward and his nephew Javan “Sugar” Hill. What did you learn from them?

AM: Man, I learn so much from “Sugar” Hill. I truly believe he is the best trainer, probably in the world. Emanuel, may God rest his soul, was a great guy. I’ll never forget he gave me a pair of 18 oz. gloves. And for my size (145 lbs.) that was almost unheard of. I was a beast with them things. I wore them things out. Unfortunately, he passed before he could get me another pair. But seriously, I loved being in his presence because I knew I was around greatness.

SA: What is your relationship to them, and KRONK GYM?

AM: Sugar Hill was my trainer for about a year or so. And when my schedule changed and I wasn’t really in touch with him like that, and I didn’t really get the time with him that I wanted from a trainer, another trainer (anonymous) sweet talked his way into my ear and trained me for a while, the other trainer gave me good sparring, I’ll give him that! But I still learn from Sugar Hill, I love to learn, and I love his training tactics. And as for Kronk in general, once a Kronk fighter, always a Kronk fighter. The environment is amazing. Like I told someone before “me going to Kronk, was like a sheep being raised by wolves”. Kronk is only for the strong and I’ve been there for years.

SA: What can the boxing fans expect to see from you?

AM: They can expect to see a man with heart, dignity, pride, and a right hand from this guy from Detroit.

SA: Who are your current and all time favorite fighters?

AM: My all time favorite fighter hands down is Sugar Ray Leonard, I mean how could you not like him, everyone likes sugar! My favorite current fighter is André Ward, no matter what it takes, at the end of the day, he finds a way to win. He’s a man of God, and he’s everything I wanna be.

SA: Anyone you look up to or who inspires you?

AM: The first man I ever really looked up to was Cornelius “K9” Bundrage. I first saw him on ESPN’s The Contender. I related to him in the sense of the underdog from Detroit, and when he surprised the world by making it as far as he did, that really inspired me. And when I met him in person, I tried so hard not to act star-struck, because I was hitting the bag at the time.

SA: How would you describe your boxing style?

AM: My style varies. I like to box, take my time and take you apart, counter punch, slickster, sharp, strong, I like to move around a lot, I don’t like to fight on the inside, but I do it when necessary.

SA: Is there a pro boxer that you can maybe liken yourself to in terms of ability and style?

AM: I’ve been TOLD I got a bit of Tommy Hearns in me. Honestly, them are some BIG shoes to fill, that’s a lot of pressure, but I’ll see what I can do.

SA: Anything else you would like to add or share, maybe a message for your supporters and our readers?

AM: I have the upmost respect for anyone who steps through those ropes to fight. I would like to thank my supporters, even the ones who don’t take much of a liking to me. I thank them for paying so much attention. My mom, my brother, and my sisters, I love you all dearly. I thank those who believe in me, and see the potential in me, I am not through yet. I love the city of Detroit, you made a soldier out of me. My childhood, thank you (laughs). And thank you SylvanaBoxing for having me for this interview.