Why success hasn't changed Jarrett Hurd, a world champion boxer who still lives with his parents

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
<span>Unified 154-pound world champion </span>Jarrett Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs) will defend his belts against Jason Welborn (24-6, 7 KOs) on Saturday’s Wilder vs. Fury undercard. (Reuters/Andrew Couldridge)
Unified 154-pound world champion Jarrett Hurd (22-0, 15 KOs) will defend his belts against Jason Welborn (24-6, 7 KOs) on Saturday’s Wilder vs. Fury undercard. (Reuters/Andrew Couldridge)

When a teenage Jarrett Hurd approached his mother, Brenda, and asked if she’d finance him as he tried to make a run at a professional boxing career, her thoughts immediately turned to the youngest of her three sons.

When Justin Hurd was very young, he showed great proficiency as a skater, both on ice and on roller skates. An Olympic coach watched Justin skate and told the Hurds he had potential.

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Justin wanted to try to make a go of it as a skater, and so Brenda Hurd did some research.

“When I checked on it and I found out how much it cost for him to hire a coach and go through all the training it would take, I felt it was just too expensive, and so I told him no,” Brenda Hurd said. “I’ve always regretted that. I’ve often thought to myself, ‘What if he had been really good?’ and I didn’t give him the opportunity. That’s always kind of nagged at me and I do regret it.”

So when Jarrett, who Brenda said was 18 or 19, came to her and asked her to finance him as a boxer, she remembered the incident with Justin years earlier. She told him she’d give him $50 every two weeks for gas to get back and forth to the gym. If it didn’t work by the time he was 25, she told him he’d be on his own.

Jarrett turned professional in 2012, a month after his 22nd birthday. In 2017, he had built a 19-0 record with 14 knockouts and got a fight with Tony Harrison for the vacant IBF super welterweight title. He stopped Harrison in the ninth to win the belt, and defeated Erislandy Lara in April to add the WBA belt.

You could say he made it with room to spare.

On Saturday, he’ll defend his belts against veteran Jason Welborn on the pay-per-view undercard of the heavyweight title bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.

No records are kept on this, but Hurd may be the only world champion who still lives with his parents. He’s taken a ribbing about it over the years, but you won’t come across a more normal, well-adjusted star athlete than Hurd.

He grew up in a middle-class home in Accokeek, Maryland, with his parents Fred Sr., and Brenda, and brothers Fred II and Justin. They had an almost “Mayberry R.F.D.” kind of upbringing, in which everyone in the neighborhood, as well as their extended family members, seemed to gather at the Hurd residence.

“I like to say my parents were the parents of all the kids in the neighborhood,” Hurd said. “All the kids, my brothers’ friends and my friends, they’d all wind up at our house and my parents kept an eye on everyone. There was a lot of love and a lot of support at all times.”

When Jarrett was 15, he began to box, and was immediately good at it. Boxing was a passion of his father’s and the family would routinely gather around the television whenever a big fight was on.

Jarrett won most of his amateur tournaments, but he didn’t stick with it. He’d train, win a tournament and then not pick it up again until there was another tournament that interested him.

His interest soared when he discovered that his original trainer, Tom Browner, had died.

Hurd was living at home, working in the deli at Safeway. Browner would call him repeatedly and ask him to get to the gym and get out of the Safeway. Browner would tell him he had talent to go places in boxing.

“I’d tell him, ‘I’m at Safeway because I need the money,’” Hurd said.

When Browner died, Hurd finally decided to take his words to heart. He got the funding he needed from his mother and off he went.

He’s become one of the sport’s most entertaining fighters, and has a passel of big fights ahead of him, including a unification bout with WBC champion Jermell Charlo.

Jarrett Hurd (R) throws a left at Erislandy Lara during their WBA/IBF junior middleweight unification title fight at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hurd won by split decision. (Getty Images)
Jarrett Hurd (R) throws a left at Erislandy Lara during their WBA/IBF junior middleweight unification title fight at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on April 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hurd won by split decision. (Getty Images)

His success, though, hasn’t changed him. He still lives with his parents, though because he travels so much for his job, they don’t see him as much as they’d like.

“He’s my son, but he really is a good kid,” Fred Hurd Sr. said. “I wear a lot of his gear, the hat and the clothes, the sweatsuits, that kind of stuff. A guy came up to me in the store and said, ‘Jarrett Hurd? I follow that dude. Very good guy. Humble dude. And he can fight.’ I didn’t say anything at the moment and I just listened to him. He went on and talked a little more about Jarrett and I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell him what you said, because you just met his father.’ It’s always great to hear someone talking about your children like that, and this was just a natural situation where he had no idea who I was before he spoke to me.”

Jarrett will soon be making the kind of money that he could only once dream of before. He’s practical and is saving it and hasn’t blown it on material things.

He doesn’t own a fancy car and hasn’t yet bought a home, though he’s starting to think in that direction.

“Staying at home, everything is working for me,” Hurd said. “And look what that’s done: Instead of me buying a starter home, now I’m in a position to get my dream house. I grew up and I didn’t have the money to buy whatever I wanted, so I had to learn to work with a budget. Even when I started to get money, I was just budgeting, budgeting, budgeting.

“As I started moving up in boxing and being on television, I realized that even without the bling or the fancy car or whatever, I was still going to get that love from [the fans]. So I didn’t have to do anything just to impress someone. I don’t need a Mercedes. I don’t need a big house. I’m barely home anyway. I don’t have a family of my own, no kids, and so I could be careful with my money and keep it.”

He still hangs with his parents. Brenda Hurd said the get-togethers are just larger now. The sons now bring their girlfriends with them to the home and they go out together for dinner or just spend time enjoying each other’s company.

There’s a lot for Fred Sr. and Brenda to be proud of, and not a lot to complain about. There is, though, one small thing.

“I’m so proud of Jarrett and what I am most proud of is the way he handles people,” Brenda Hurd said. “When someone comes up to him and asks for a picture or an autograph, he’s always nice and gives them his total respect and attention. He’s that kind of guy. He shakes hands with the people and he’s never rude. He’s just about perfect.

“The only thing I can say bad about him is that he doesn’t like cutting the grass. He hates cutting the grass. If he liked that, he’d be perfect, but we’re very thankful for the man he has become.”

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