In the movie Coach Carter, Samuel L. Jackson famously quipped to his team of academically struggling players “you are student athletes, student comes first.”
Unfortunately, some standout athletes believe their talents supersede performing in the classroom. This has led to high schools and colleges warning or suspending players if their grades didn’t improve.
On the contrary, there are those who take great pride in starring as an athlete and student; such as 17-year-old Joey Veazey.
Known by his moniker of “Bazooka Joe” Veazey is multi-time amateur champion and was ranked internationally. On Thursday evening, Veazey fights Chris Perkins for the East Coast junior middleweight championship at Michael’s Eighth Ave in Glen Burnie, MD as a featured fighter on a card promoted by Baltimore Boxing.
The card serves as a tribute to Murray “Bushwacker” Smith Sr., father of Baltimore Boxing’s Jake Smith. Tickets purchased in advance start at $25, reserved seats are $35, reserved tables for ten are $350, $50 VIP seats and $500 VIP tables of 10 can be purchased by calling 410-375-9175. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the fights begin at 8.
Slated to compete in his 100th match, Veazy is a big ticket seller in the Baltimore area and regularly draws large crowds when he enters the squared circle. To Veazey however, he is most proud of his accomplishments outside of the ring, where he’s an honor student finishing up his senior year at Northeast High School.
In August, Veazey will enroll in college locally and major in either mechanical engineering or computer science. At the same time, he’ll prepare for his professional debut while still working as a trainer at the Baltimore Boxing Club. Most see being a fighter or student as a full time responsibility, but Veazey believes his work ethic and focus will help him continue to excel in and out of the ring.
“You have to be disciplined in the ring and classroom,” said Veazey. “I know there’s a lot on my plate but I thrive on excelling as a boxer, student and a trainer at the Baltimore Boxing Club. Focusing and paying attention to the task at hand helps keep me dialed in with whatever it is I’m doing at that time. Ultimately, my goal is to continue excelling with my academics and win a world title. I believe both are reachable and can become a reality with continued hard work.”
Smith, who has literally watched Veazey grow as a person and fighter during the last decade, has trained hundreds of fighters and considers Bazooka Joe one of his most special.
“Joey could’ve told himself boxing will be his everything because of how successful he’s been but he’s extremely humble and intelligent far beyond his years,” said Smith. “He literally goes from one task to another and excels at each of them. Whether he’s a world champion boxer, engineer, computer scientist or all of the above, Joey Veazey epitomizes what it means to be a well-rounded person and I’m very proud of him.”
In the co-feature, Upton Boxing’s Tyrell Boyd and 2016 Golden Gloves champion Aston Sykes will do battle for the Maryland State Middleweight title. Boyd is a former East Coast Middleweight titlist and looks for his second belt while Sykes is riding a wave of confidence having won the Golden Gloves in one of America’s toughest regions.
Popular Clayton Frazier faces Elvin Rodriguez in a battle between boxers from the Baltimore Boxing Gym. Frazier, who has only two fights, is a crowd favorite and hopes to claim local bragging rights in what Smith calls the “Battle of Baltimore Boxing.”
Former basketball star Stefon “Showtime” McRay and future pro standout Donald Wallace will also appear on the card in separae bouts.