Archdeacon: The ‘mind-blowing’ transformation of Quincy Hazard

Quincy Hazard, who has faced challenges in life, has embraced boxing and the others boxers and coaches at Drake’s Downtown Gym have embraced him. Tom Archdeacon/CONTRIBUTED
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Quincy Hazard, who has faced challenges in life, has embraced boxing and the others boxers and coaches at Drake’s Downtown Gym have embraced him. Tom Archdeacon/CONTRIBUTED

The chicken days are done.

“When he was growing up I’d put him in every sport, but he didn’t like none of them,” Jerome Hazard, the former Marshall University football standout, was saying about his son, Quincy, who has faced some real struggles in life.

Shawn Langlois, Quincy’s mom, agreed: “Quincy’s dad definitely was an athlete, he was good at every sport. And his older sister (Madison) ran track. We had Q participate in sports coming up, but he just wasn’t crazy about them.”

“I’ll give you a good example,” Jerome said with a growing smile. “He was on this soccer team one time, but he didn’t want to play. Finally, the coach comes over and says, ‘Jerome, he doesn’t want to go in.’

“I said, ‘Why not?’ “And the coach goes, ‘He told me he just wants some chicken nuggets!’

“And you know what? The coach’s wife went and got some chicken nuggets for him and he sat there on the bench and ate them and he was happy.

“True story!”

Jerome was relating this tale the other night as he stood in Drake’s Downtown Gym, a few feet away from the ring where his well-muscled, now 22-year-old son was in a vigorous sparring session with Sam Wildenhaus, a Yellow Springs middleweight, who’s also 22, but is one of the most accomplished boxers in the gym and has a 4-1 pro record.

On this night, Quincy was throwing combinations and surprised everyone when he came up with a couple of solid left hooks. Every so often he used an abbreviated Ali shuffle, though it was to reset himself rather than simply show off.

After his round with Wildenhaus, he returned to the ring for a go with Warren Roberds, a rugged 33-year-old light heavyweight who is a pro and has been an MMA fighter, too.

Roberds praised Quincy’s ringwork afterward, as did Wildenhaus, who sparred again with him later in the session.

“It’s amazing,” Jerome said quietly. “To see him get involved in something like this and do so well and love it so much, it’s mind blowing really. He’s finally found something he likes and I didn’t have to force him into it. It’s all him.”

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Quincy Hazard (black shirt) an up and coming amateur boxer, spars at Drake’s Downtown Gym with Sam Wildenhaus, an accomplished boxer from Yellow Springs with a 4-1 professional record. Tom Archdeacon/CONTRIBUTED

Quincy Hazard (black shirt) an up and coming amateur boxer, spars at Drake’s Downtown Gym with Sam Wildenhaus, an accomplished boxer from Yellow Springs with a 4-1 professional record. Tom Archdeacon/CONTRIBUTED
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Quincy Hazard (black shirt) an up and coming amateur boxer, spars at Drake’s Downtown Gym with Sam Wildenhaus, an accomplished boxer from Yellow Springs with a 4-1 professional record. Tom Archdeacon/CONTRIBUTED

“Quincy has never really shown passion in anything, until this,” Shawn said. “He’s totally committed to boxing. He goes out and runs at 2:30 or 3 in the morning and, when he gets home, he goes down in the basement for another hour-and-a-half or two and works with his weights and on his bike down there. And he goes to the gym a couple of nights a week.”

“He’s just embraced the whole thing.”

And what’s just as amazing, maybe even more so said his parents, is the embrace he’s gotten in return from the other boxers at Drake’s, the coaches and gym owner John Drake himself.

“Drake and the coaches have really tapped into something with Quincy,” Jerome said, then smiled. “I wish I’d known this before I spent all that money on those little league teams when he was growing up.

“I can’t say enough about the people in the gym here: Warren, Sam, Sam’s dad (Bill) and the other boxers. I’m amazed at the way they support him and care about him.”

Drake said there’s reason for the warm support: “He’s a nice kid to embrace because he’s so likeable, so polite and so coachable. We’re all pulling for him to do well. We’re excited for him, his dad and his mom.

“It’s a great story… Just a great story!”

But that wasn’t always the case.

In middle school and especially when he went to Ponitz High School, Quincy said he was bullied because he took classes for special needs students. He was also very shy and he was overweight.

“When he was a freshman, he probably weighed 250 pounds or more,” Shawn said of her son who now weighs about 175.

“I tried wrestling in high school a couple of years, but I wasn’t very good,” Quincy said.

Shawn and Jerome divorced seven years ago, but both have remained very active in rearing their son.

“I was very protective of him, but we also were adamant that he’d try to do things on his own.” Shawn said.

These days she and Jerome drive Quincy back and forth to his job at the Goodwill store in Englewood.

“We try to expose him to things,” Jerome said. “I took him to go vote, things like that.

“But one of the things that’s always made me nervous was, ‘How’s he going to make it in life?’

“Things that you and I take for granted – washing our clothes, cooking, riding the bus, buying something at Speedway – it can all be a challenge for him.”

‘I try to do the best I can’

Jerome Hazard grew up in Brooklyn and came to Marshall University on a football scholarship in the mid-1980s. He was a two-way player – starting fullback and linebacker – on the Thundering Herd team that played in the NCAA I-AA national championship game, losing 43-42 to Northeast Louisiana.

Shawn, who now works in telecare for veterans at the Dayton VA – grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut. Her daughter Madison Langlois is 28.

Quincy is Shawn’s and Jerome’s only child together. He began taking special needs classes in the third grade and has developed into a charming, good-hearted young man.

He loves animals – his mom said she can see him working with them one day – and is partial to his dog, Jewels, a 12-year old Jack Russell and shih chu mix that he cares for and often takes on walks along the river.

“He’s good with his hands too and pretty artistic,” his dad said.

“Although we got him plenty of toys growing up, the ones he really liked were ones he’d made himself out of pipe cleaners, things like that,” Shawn said.

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Jerome Hazard (left) and his son Quincy. CONTRIBUTED

Jerome Hazard (left) and his son Quincy. CONTRIBUTED
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Jerome Hazard (left) and his son Quincy. CONTRIBUTED

A real sense of accomplishment has come with his job at Goodwill.

“I’m in the back taking in people’s donations,” he said as he sat on the ring apron after his workout the other night. “We get some good stuff that they resell or give to the homeless. But we get some weird stuff, too. Somebody donated a deer head.”

Lowering his voice, he added: “I don’t know if I can say this? Can I?

“An old lady donated a huge box of old porn. It wasn’t magazines, it was actual photos! She said it was from her husband.

“That’s pretty crazy!”

A more memorable occurrence happened a while back when he observed some other guys bullying a smaller co-worker.

“He saw this mentally-challenged kid getting picked on and he stepped in and stopped it,” Jerome said.

Quincy shrugged it off when it was brought up the other night.

“Yeah, that happened,” he said quietly. “I was minding my own business, but when I saw that, I thought I should help out. He was smaller than me. There was no reason for him to get bullied, so I just stepped in.

“I try to do the best I can.”

‘Committed’ to boxing

Quincy said it was his mom who suggested he try boxing, though at first he didn’t know how to go about it.

But when he was walking downtown one day, he passed Drake’s gym across from the Neon Movies at Fifth and Patterson.

Drake was holding a workout in the parking lot and boxers were taking turns hitting the punch (catching) mitts he held up.

Intrigued, Quincy returned later and walked into the gym. He said he was nervous, but soon he found himself under the wing of then-coach, Adan Salguero, a Miami University grad and 139-pound national champion at the National Collegiate Boxing Association (NCBA) tournament, who is now the assistant boxing coach at the United States Naval Academy.

“Adan ran our competitive program then and he took a real liking to Quincy,” Drake said. “And Quincy soaked up everything he was told.”

Quincy said he likes coming to the gym: “Mainly I do boxing because it teaches me to be brave. I mean it’s not every day you go in and face guys who can put you out with one hit.

“Boxing’s just made me get more confidence and be a better person.”

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Quincy Hazard with his mom, Shawn Langlois. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Quincy Hazard with his mom, Shawn Langlois. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
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Quincy Hazard with his mom, Shawn Langlois. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

When his mom says he’s “committed” to the sport, that’s almost an understatement.

They live in the Hillcrest area of North Dayton and she said he has a route along the neighborhood streets that he runs in the wee hours of the morning.

“For Christmas I bought him a set of weights and he works with them every day, too,” she said.

She said he studies the history of the sport and of many boxers.

Quincy said his favorite boxer is unbeaten WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford, who’s also been the world lightweight and light welterweight champ and in 2014 was named the fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America.

“I’m a big fan of his,” Quincy said. “I like his work ethic and how he can adapt to every opponent he has.”

Quincy is showing some adaptability himself Drake said: “In the past four or five weeks we’ve noticed he just keeps doing something in the ring he hadn’t done the week before. He keeps adding to his game. He’s a natural athlete.”

While he’s regularly mentored by Roberds and Wildenhaus, he’s made other new friends there. “Quincy is one of my best friends in here,” said 21-year-old amateur, Tommy Nguyen.

Even so, Quincy admitted he still feels nerves in the gym.

“I don’t know if I’d say I’m comfortable in the ring yet,” he said. “I’m still trying to get used to that.”

Jerome brings his son to the gym, but stays in the background and says very little when his son is training.

“He’s not used to fighting in front of these many people,” Jerome said as he looked around the mostly empty gym. Of the 11 people in there, six were boxers.

“I don’t say anything in here, but tonight he still wanted me further away from the ring,” Jerome laughed. “He said, ‘Pops why don’t you go workout?’”

The other night the boxers all were preparing for a Fight Night sparring exhibition Drake is putting on at the gym, Friday, Nov. 5, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

He said there will be up to six bouts (tickets are $10) and Wildenhaus will fight the main event and Roberds will fight the co-feature.

Drake is hoping Quincy makes his boxing debut that night.

“He’s ready even though he’s not sure he is,” Drake smiled. “We all know he’s ready.”

But if he was nervous with 11 people in the gym, how will he feel about a crowd of 75 or 100 on Nov. 5?

“Getting him out of the dressing room, that will be the biggest hurdle,” Jerome said

Shawn said she is going to be there with Quincy’s sister and some other friends.

“Oh I’m not worried, he’s gonna do it,” Shawn said. “He’s found something he really loves.”

The chicken days are done.

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