Chazz Witherspoon, 1-0 (1 KO), a heavyweight on a full academic scholarship, is set to return to the ring after his successful pro debut. Witherspoon will be featured on the 2005 season premiere of Ballroom Boxing Thursday, January 27, at Michael's Eighth Avenue (7220 Grayburn Drive) in Glen Burnie, MD.
The 6'4", 220-pound Witherspoon, who is scheduled to graduate from St. Joseph's University in May with a Bachelors degree in pharmaceutical marketing, is a cousin of former heavyweight champion "Terrible" Tim Witherspoon.
"Now that my final exams are behind me and I only have one statistics course left this semester, I can focus a lot more on my boxing career," said a relieved Witherspoon as he headed off to the library this morning.
Witherspoon, 23, the heavyweight alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team, took a short break from his studies to make his pro debut on December 12 in Washington, D.C., knocking out James Daniels in the first round.
Gary Shaw and Shelly Finkel, Witherspoon's promoter and manager, respectively, feel Chazz will not only be a future world heavyweight champion, but restore the glory and excitement that the division so sorely misses. The 2004 National Golden Gloves could certainly prove to be a barometer for Chazz's boxing future, where he became the first and only man in tournament history to win every bout by knockout.
"In my opinion, Chazz graduated to the professional ranks with high honors," stated Shaw after Chazz's knockout performance.
Witherspoon's story is inspiring. Born in Philadelphia, where he currently holds an apartment during the school year, Chazz gravitated to basketball and books at an early age. As a senior at New Jersey's Paulsboro High School, he averaged 21 points per game as a power forward " fourth-best in South Jersey that season" while graduating with a sterling 3.8 grade point average. Eschewing the basketball scholarships offered by NCAA Division I schools on both coasts, Chazz instead accepted the academic scholarship offered by St. Joseph's University.
"I chose Pharmaceutical Marketing as my major because that is where the money is at," Chazz explained. "Pharmaceutical companies pay great starting salaries and have terrific benefits, including giving you a car to use. The Pharmaceutical industry is here to stay. People are living longer, and more medicines are being developed and sold because of that."
"Pain reliever manufacturers may want to get on the Chazz Witherspoon bandwagon, handing out samples to Chazz's opponents for the headaches they will be enduring after a bout with him," chimed Shaw.
Chazz originally boxed as a physical outlet to fill the void left by basketball. However, the more he boxed the more he realized he had some serious talent and soon he began to train for a spot on the U.S Olympic Team. After winning the National Golden Gloves, he wound up as an alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympian as a heavyweight (201 lbs), despite the fact he only had an amateur resume of 30 bouts?about 100 less than the average of the opposition he faced in various tournaments leading to his spot on the team.
"I know that boxing needs someone with character and good qualities that can extend beyond the boxing ring and just be a good person in general," said Chazz. "I am an athlete and I have a degree, I could be a role model for other kids. In light of the current steroids scandal, perhaps it is a good time for someone like me to step forward and make a statement, to break stereotypes on boxers specifically and athletes in general. I am ready to accept that responsibility. In fact, I welcome it."
Ballroom Boxing is syndicated to 60 different TV markets in the U.S. and 181 countries overseas. It is currently seen on the following major network outlets: the Sunshine Network (Florida), the Empire Sports Network (Upstate NY), New England Sports Network (New England states), Comcast Sports Network-Philadelphia, Comcast Sports Network-Mid-Atlantic, FOX Sports Digital Nets (3 million digital cable subscribers - combines Fox Sports Net's local feeds from its regional sports networks into a three-channel package for digital subscribers - Fox Sports Digital Pacific, Fox Sports Digital Central and Fox Sports Digital Atlantic.), FOX Sports International (Middle East), Urban America Television (70 cities), Major Broadcasting Cable Network, American Armed Forces Television (181 countries), Comcast Sports South (southeastern region), UPN 27, WCVI (St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John), as well as home satellite systems DirecTV and DISH Network, which carry many of the above networks.
Tickets to the Ballroom Boxing show are on sale now and priced at $35 (Advance General Admission), $40 (General Admission at the door), $50 (Reserved) and $100 (Premium Ringside). Tickets can be purchased at Michael?s Eighth Avenue, or by calling (410) 766-7474. Doors open at 6:30 P.M. with the first bout scheduled to begin at 8:15 P.M.