This Saturday, two men, both named Gary Russell, will do battle against their respective opponents at Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort and Casino.
The elder Mr. Gary Russell, Jr. (26-1) will be making his first title defense live on Showtime against Irishmen Patrick Hyland, since wresting the WBC Featherweight belt from Jhonny Gonzalez last March. It took Junior only four of a scheduled 12 rounds to stop Gonzalez, knocking him down once in the third round and twice in the fourth.
But that is only a sliver of the excellence emanating from the Washington, D.C. based family. His younger brother, Gary Antonio Russell, is now a 5-0 bantamweight with 4 KOs, and youngest brother Gary Antuuane Russell is a member of the 2016 U.S.A Olympic Boxing Team preparing for this summer’s games in Rio De Janeiro.
Led by the mastermind, father Gary Russell, Sr., it is clear that a dynasty is emerging.
“My brother Antuanne made the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in the 141-pound division and he has a chance soon to qualify for the games with a tournament in Azerbaijan, said WBC Featherweight champion Russell, Jr. My other brother Antonio is going to be on my undercard as well. Within my family we’re actually the first set of four brothers to all win the National Golden Gloves. That just goes to show the level of coaching we get from our dad, to have a world champion, two Olympians and four National Golden Gloves winners. We’re trying to leave a legacy in this sport. We’re all very similar in temperament and attitude. We all want to be world champions.”
Gary Antonio Russell takes on Leonardo Reyes (3-9, 1 KO) in a bantamweight fight on the undercard. The two-time National Golden Gloves runner up, Russell won the national championship in 2013 and he now looks to follow in the footsteps of his older brother.
It feels good it was all expected, said Antonio Russell. Actually my pro debut was supposed to have been on (Juniors) undercard at one point but I felt as though I did not have enough sparring preparing for my first fight so I chose not to fight because I felt as though I wasnt ready just yet. I didnt have enough time to prepare myself mentally and physically, so I told my father I dont feel comfortable going into my pro debut like this. And since its happening now, I just got that second opportunity. It came back around but it was all expected.
Big brother Gary echoed the statement.
“It means a lot,” said Russell, Jr. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m actually more looking forward to watching my brother compete than my own fight. I will definitely be working his corner in that fight. It means a lot for us to be able to pass this information down from generation to generation and watch it grow and watch us build as a family and as a unit. It’s amazing.’
With the three Russells all working at top speed to achieve their goals, you would think that their father and coach would be stretched beyond reasonable limit. However, the younger Russells would caution you to doubt their progenitors ability to juggle all of his sons interests.
My Father is very flexible, he makes sure to get enough time into each individual, said Antonio. Its not too much for him, hes been doing this all his life. Theres been times that I would be fighting in the national tournament and Gary (Junior) would be preparing for a fight at the same time. As a father and a coach, he does a perfect balance of the two and makes sure that everybody gets that equal amount of workout in.
Patrick Hyland, Gary Russell, Jr. opponent, also comes from a fighting family of brothers who, although arent all of the same first name, inspire him the same against the pending Russell challenge.
“My brothers are no longer fighting, said Hyland. Their last fights were on the same show, Jan. 28, 2012 in Atlantic City, which I headlined (against Emmanuel Lucero). My older brother, Edward (“Pride of Tallaght”) fought at super featherweight. He runs his own Boxing Club in Dublin. My other brother, Paulie, was a former European and Irish super bantamweight champion. He is back doing a bit of training. No other members of our Hyland family were in professional boxing. I’m hoping we’re not the last, though, as I’ve got a few nephews and my own son now. One day they might lace up the gloves.”
Boxing has always been a family business, where family strength helps push a name to the lofty sporting heights of the fight game.
The Russell family continues this legacy, with a current fervor never before seen in the combat sporting world.