The following article, Avious Griffin's Improbable Path To Becoming A Welterweight Contender , was first published on Flag And Cross.
LAS VEGAS — They say, God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. That would put welterweight knockout artist, Avious Griffin(13-0-0, 12 KOs ) on the frontlines. Having endured several tragedies in his life, including watching the man who got him involved in boxing, his father passed away in the backseat while trying to rush him to the hospital was only the beginning of misfortunes for Griffin, 29. As his pro boxing career was just starting to bud, he was wrongfully convicted of a murder, which led to him being incarcerated for 11 months. Rightfully, adopting the moniker “Tha Underdog,” Griffin has used those past traumas to become one of boxing’s greatest stories. Currently 13-0 with 12 knockouts, Griffin returns to the ring on November 4 in Costa Rica on DAZN on a card promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
“Tha Underdog” shares his story of redemption and success with Zenger News.
Zenger: You call yourself “Tha Underdog.” What’s the message behind the moniker?
Griffin: With me, it has nothing to do with me having to prove something in boxing. “Tha Underdog” is more like a lifestyle. I’m gonna have to break this down one time because some people just running with the name. The reason I chose this name is because, I have something to prove… to my peers, to the older people, the younger people, letting them know that, coming from the environment that we come from, whether it’s low income or poverty or whatever, you can make it to a certain level. Coming from the environments we come from, you kind of already the underdog. They don’t expect you to make it up out of that. It’s hard to make it out of that when you really in that. I use that moniker as a motivational tool to myself. Me doubting myself or felling like everyone is against me, keeps me on point. It keeps me sharp when nobody not looking because they’re already expecting me to fail. I’m #14 in the world, but there is somebody in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I’m from waiting to say, I told you so. We not cutting no corners, and one day the whole world gonna wanna be an underdog. Betting on the underdog gets you paid, baby!
Zenger: You were wrongfully convicted of murder, you lost your father who got you into boxing, yet I hear all of this energy on the other line. Does being in a position to pursue your dreams in boxing given the circumstances you’ve stood up to create who you are today?
Griffin: I can laugh about it now because of where I’m at. I’ve been home for 4 years now since that situation. When I was incarcerated, I already had my mind made up about what I’m going to do. I was 4-0 as a pro before I got incarcerated. I was in talks with management companies. This was in 2018. Since I returned home and back to the sport, I had this in my mind. When the situation first happened, I was sick about it. I really don’t even like to talk about it too much. I was wrongfully convicted, but I don’t really go into detail. I will when I have to. All that made me who I am. I had to go through all of that. It created this energy, this confidence, this swagger, because that was the lowest moment in my life. I had to rebuild myself from scratch. It was like kindergarten all over again. My character and determination had to be rebuilt because they broke it. I ain’t gonna lie. They broke me, but I didn’t lay down. I built it back up and I made it stronger. That situation created this new energy that you’re hearing.
That situation made me stand on who I am today. When I thought I was being the perfect person back then, they still left me when it was time to make bond. People turned their back on me. I tell my friends, the reason why I didn’t blow up back then is because I was too loyal. I felt like everybody around me loved me and was really for me. If I would’ve got rich back then, no telling what would’ve happened to me, based on the people I had around me. I feel like God set me down to show me, everybody that say they love you, and everybody that’s smiling in your face not for you. They could’ve got me back then. I would’ve came back to the hood with a million dollars cash. I wouldn’t do that now. I try to take a positive situation out of every negative one, and the positive I took from that is, I wasn’t ready to prosper then. I was gullible to the people around me. When I make it this time, I got the right people behind me now.
Zenger: How does it feel to have CTB Athletics believe in you?
Griffin: I ain’t gonna lie, it feels good because when I started this boxing journey, it was just me and my dad. That was my best friend, along with my mom. Now, I have people believing in me and supporting me all over the world, that’s amazing and crazy to me. It’s motivating me. I’m honored to have Brandon Stump and the team that we created around us.
Zenger: November 4th in Costa Rica on DAZN, you will be getting back in the ring. I’m sure your motivation levels are through the roof right now.
Griffin: I’m excited. I’m happy to display the talent that God blessed me with on any platform. See, I don’t really get caught up in the platforms. In my mind, it’s just another fade. I don’t get caught up in the bright lights and the platform, it’s just another fade, another opponent, somebody in my way. I’m honored to fight on DAZN and Golden Boy platform, don’t take what I’m saying the wrong way. To keep me at ease, I just don’t get gassed off the platform. I’m just going beat this guy up. That’s what it’s about. I’m knocking you out in the best fashion that I can, and as fast as I can.
Zenger: You are obviously a knockout artist, but when the dust settles, what separates Avious Griffin from the other welterweights?
Griffin: Man, I’m just cut from a different cloth. I know a lot of people say that, but the proof is in the pudding. The lifestyle, the things I’ve been through outside of boxing, and the things I’ve been through in boxing. A lot of people can’t take the type of blows I have taken and get back up and keep going. I can count on one hand the amount of people I know who have dealt with traumatizing moments like me and can bounce back from it. I’m willing to die in there. I live by this. It’s to the death, that’s in everything. If I love you, it’s to the death, if we beefing, it’s to the death, if it’s a fight, we gonna fight to the death. I got “TTD” tatted on me. I live by that. So, when I step in there, I don’t know about them, but I’m ready to check out. I tell my managers and everybody, “If I go out tonight, don’t cry. I went out like a gangster and like a gladiator.” I tell everybody that on my way to the fight. That mindset is what separates me from the rest of these guys. They ain’t ready to do that.
A lot of these guys do it for clout. I ain’t doing it for clout. I die today, I’m a neighborhood legend. I’m doing this for me. I’m doing this for my dad. To make a way for my family to endure some wealth. I don’t have anybody rich in my family. If there is, I don’t know them. I trying to control my narrative and my bloodline. I want to set the bar real high. I want to be that motivational person. They could be like, damn man, he was in jail for murder, he got out of jail and did this. People never give up when they look at my story. Let’s keep going. Look at homie, he was 4-0, went to jail for murder, and he didn’t stop. His daddy died 3 weeks before his debut, he rushed his daddy to the hospital, he still turned pro. All of this is underdog mentality. Nobody expected me to bounce back. My daddy died in the backseat, that was my best friend. I’m rushing him to the hospital. I came back from all of my setbacks and trauma.
Edited by Miriam Onyango and Virginia Van Zandt
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