Local/State

Go the distance: Boxer off to college - Philadelphia News

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A young Germantown boxer has Olympic gold on his mind and a scholarship in his hand.

It's packing day for Jesse Hart, the 19-year-old boxer from Germantown.

An amateur middleweight, ranked eighth nationally, is on his way to Northern Michigan University where he's been offered a scholarship to study business while training at the U.S. Olympic Education Center there.

"To work toward getting a diploma and pursuing my dream of becoming an Olympic gold medalist? You can't ask for nothing more," Jesse said.

Jesse planned to turn pro, but changed his mind when he was invited to attend the Olympic Education Center by Philadelphia native Al Mitchell, who coached the U.S. Boxing team in 1996.

Jesse's trainer is his dad Eugene "the Cyclone" Hart who was named to the list of Ring magazine's top 100 punchers of all time. His parents are thrilled their son has earned this opportunity.

"It was a struggle. It was hard work, but God gave us the chance to go to the next level," Eugene said.

"I'm so proud of him. He made me so proud of him. I never thought I would see this day," Deborah Hart, Jesse's mother, said.

Jesse has been boxing since he was 6-years-old and he credits the sport with keeping him out of trouble. He says a number of the kids he grew up with are dead or in jail, but boxing sent him in a different direction.

"It kept me off the streets. It helped me focus, kept me hungry, and it kept me on my job," Jesse said.

Jesse honed his skills at city rec centers and is motivated by his dad and a photo of boxing greats Muhammed Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Joe Lewis that hangs on the living room wall.

The 2007 FitzSimons High grad is nervous about this new challenge so far from home, but says he's ready to fight for his dream.

"I believe in dedication, hard work, prayers and belief in God and the good deed, that's what I live on," Jesse said.

And that's what keeps Jesse Hart going in and out of the ring.

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