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INTERVIEWS! D.C’s Professional Lightweight Champ, Tyrone Barnett, Tells How He’s Using His Company to Benefit the Area’s Boxing Circuit

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D.C’s Professional Lightweight Champ, Tyrone Barnett, Tells How He’s Using His Company to Benefit the Area’s Boxing Circuit

Sarah McLeod, Editor-in-Chief of SNS Nightlife Magazine is a Special Correspondent for Forever DC.  We extend gratitude to Forever DC for affording SNS Nightlife the opportunity to conduct this interview.


After an eight year professional light weight boxing career, Tyrone “Ty” Barnett doesn’t require much introduction.  His awesome track record precedes him but what you may not know is that his latest contribution to the world of boxing is a greater testament to the genius within the boundaries of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Barnett is a native son who has begun Top Flight Productions, LLC, a company with the intent to keep the boxing circuit alive in our area.  He is the first active boxer in D.C. to both promote and fight on his own card!  Top Flight’s first venture takes place in two days, Saturday June 15, 2013, at the prestigious Washington Convention Center. I feel especially blessed to have been able to sit with him today to get his take on a few issues surrounding the sport.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!


Me:  Thanks for meeting with me today.  Congratulations on Top Flight Productions!

Barnett:  Thank you.

Me: I don’t have too many questions for you but I don’t really know much about boxing behind the scenes.  So, some things you may have to explain from scratch for me.

Barnett:  Okay.

Me:  Before I delve into your new company, I want to ask about how boxing works.  I don’t know how it works behind the scenes.  I only know what I see on TV.

Barnett:  mm-hmmm

Me:  I know that your career consists of way more wins than losses but what happens to a boxer’s career after one loss?

Barnett:  Well, you know you take a step back but at the end of the day, it’s all up to the individual.  Are you going to let this loss keep you down or are you going to get up from it and keep moving forward?  Me, you can see me.  I’m still here.  I’m still moving forward.  I’m shooting for a world title.

Me:  What does it take to reach that level?

Barnett:  Win the right fights.  At the end of the day in this business it’s not what you know.  It’s who you know.  You have to rub shoulders with some good people that are in a good position that can put you in a good position.  That’s what I’m doing right now.  I’ve got my own promotional company.  I don’t have any enemies in the boxing world.  So, I’m pretty sure my day will come.

Me:  Is it a matter of getting the right promoters at your events?  Who are the right people?

Barnett:   Naw…All the right people know who I am.  It’s not a matter of me having them at my event or them seeing me fight.  They know who I am.  They’ve seen me fight.  It’s pretty much getting the opportunity. I gotta keep winning…

Me:  Can we drop names?

Barnett:  Top rank Bob Arum, Oscar de la Hoya Golden Boy Promotions…those are the major players in the game right now. with all the guys with the major titles.  I don’t have to have them at the fight.  As long as they see me active, see me winning, they’ll give me a shot.

Me:  I was listening to one of your previous interviews and one of the questions, I don’t recall who you were talking to…but he was asking what you thought about MMA now vs. boxing and I think your answer was…and I don’t want to misquote you…was that because people kind of focus on the heavyweight champions, they kind of forget there are lightweight champions as well.  Do you think that might be going on with the Bob Arum and the Golden Boy Promotion people?

Barnett:   No.  Boxing is alive.  Boxing is far from dead.  MMA is not getting in the way of boxing.  Guys are making good money in the boxing game.   I don’t know what type of money they make in the MMA.

Me:  I’ve heard they make pretty good money but I don’t know what the comparison is.

Barnett:  They probably do but it’s dangerous.

Me:  Extremely, like deadly dangerous.  It’s really crazy.

Barnett:  Right.

Me:  So for right now, the Washington Convention Center is a huge place. [Barnett nods in humble agreement.] That’s a major accomplishment to get in there, you know.  So that shows your level of expertise and your professionalism.  Is it important to have fights out of state or out of your area?  Is it important to travel at all right now?

Barnett:  When you’re climbing the ladder, it’s not that important early in your career.  You’re gonna be matched fairly so, a lot of these guys I’m having at my shows are pretty much guys that just turned pro, crossing over from the amateurs into the pros.

Me:  Okay

Barnett:  Give them some decent fights and then step it up as time goes along.  It doesn’t matter where you fight  You know, you could fight in Arizona but they could be flying a guy in from Kentucky.  You know and you coming from D.C.  So just because you’re in Arizona doesn’t mean you’re fighting someone from Arizona.  Like the guys that are fighting on the card are from D.C. but their opponents are not from D.C.  It doesn’t make a difference what part of the country you fight in.

If you’re building a fighter up, you’re not going to match him tough early.

Me:  Okay.  So fast forwarding to Saturday, June 15th, I went to your website, Top Flight Productions, to see all the boxers on the card.  Are they all from the D.C. metropolitan area?

Barnett:  Yeah, the majority of them are from D.C.  A lot of them came up under me.  A lot of them I’ve been knowing since they were five and six years old.

Me:  Really?  Let me ask you.  This is kind of a personal question as far as feelings are concerned.

Barnett:  mm-hmm

Me:  Your putting them out there is a big deal.  It kind of puts you in the position of a father almost, so to speak.  Supposing one of their careers blossoms in a way that you expected when you were younger.  Because I know when we hit 30, our expectations change.  Our whole view on life changes.  And I saw their faces, they look really really young. 

So assuming that one of their careers goes in the direction that you would have wanted at that age, how would that make you feel?  And would it make you want to do more promotion, putting forth other boxers?  I think that would like put you in a whole different category now.

Barnett:  I would feel like I accomplished something.

Me:  Yeah, right!  And you would get a lot of respect.

Barnett:  Exactly.  The respect is already there.

Me:  Well, of course..

Barnett:  They always looked up to me.  When they come to me with questions, I always have the right answer for them.  Now that I have this promotion company going that’s what I’m looking to do, make sure these young guys have that outlet and that platform to perform in front of the hometown and stay busy because I know how important it is for a fighter to stay busy.

You know, especially if this is your job!  They don’t have any other type of income coming in so if they can fight once a month/once every other month, whatever the case may be, that’s cool.

Me:  So who is your opponent?

Barnett:  A guy from Norfolk, Virginia named Stephon Alexander, a young kid, really durable.  A couple of his buddies said he’s going to come and beat me.  You know, knock me out.  [Barnett laughed.  That’s when I noticed that this was the first time I saw him smile even a little bit, a warrior indeed!]

Me:  Did you choose your opponent?

Barnett:  We had options.  A lot of guys we tried to get to fight wouldn’t take it.  He was the only who stepped up and took the fight so…

Me:  Ohhhh, he got heart.

Barnett:  Yeah.

Me:  So how do you two size up body wise?

Barnett:  I think he’s like 5’7 and fighting at 137 pounds.  I’m 5’10”.  I’m a big lightweight.

Me:  So what’s your weight?

Barnett:  My fighting weight is 135 pounds.

Me:  So does your opponent have a professional career?

Barnett:  Yeah he’s had about 12 fights with a lot of undefeated guys.  He’s pretty decent, awkward but he says he’s going to bring it, so…

Me: Okay. I also understand that this is a charity event.  What made you choose to support D.C.’s homeless veterans as opposed to another needy group?

Barnett:   It’s one of many of our donations and we have to pick one at a time.  I can’t give them all my money.  

The homeless veteran situation kind of hit close to home because I have some family members that were in the Army, a few friends’ parents who were in the service, you know, that were homeless, strung out on drugs, stuff like that.  And I was able to spend some time with them some years ago. 

I had a partner whose father was strung out on drugs and he lived in an abandoned house and I used to go up there all the time and talk to him.  I never could understand how these guys who fought for our country over in Vietnam ended up just being forgotten.  You know what I’m saying?

Me:  It’s sad.

Barnett:  He passed away now but that’s something that needs to be looked at, highlighted and taken care of.  [Then Barnett made such a poignant statement!]

And they kind of go hand in hand with boxers…you know, a lot of boxers, at the end of the day they end up broke, no money, some of them homeless, on drugs, things like that and a lot of them were champions at one time.  They end up forgotten about.  At one point in time in their lives they were everybody’s hero.

Me:  Right.

Barnett:  They got everybody’s praise.  When you have money, you have 1,001 people behind you.  But when you broke, no one knows you. 

Me:  Honorable, very honorable.  So are all proceeds going to D.C.’s homeless veterans?

Barnett:  No, just a portion.  We gotta make sure the fight sells and at the end of the day, it has to sell.

Me:   I hope this is not a silly question but do you train as hard for this kind of event as you would for an ESPN Friday Night Fight? 

Barnett:  Of course, this is home.  Gotta look good for the home team.  This would be the worse place to lose in front of your home.

Me:  Ahhh!

Barnett:  I got a lot of weight on my shoulders, you know.  Everybody is gonna be there.  [The mood felt very somber after he said that.  I wasn’t sure what to say next.

Me:  That’s so rough.  So what’s your training like?

Barnett:  It’s rough.  I’m a fighter.

Me:  Tell me.  Tell me.

Barnett:  It consists of a number of things…boxing, sparring with 3 and 4  different partners, 12-14 rounds straight at times…

Me:  What!

Barnett:  yeah, running 6 or 7 miles per day, situps, squats, calisthenics, plyometrics

Me:  How do you work through the pain?

Barnett:  Pain has a limit.  Once you get that in your head.  You’ll be alright.

Posted @ SNS Nightlife

Sarah McLeod, pen name, Gypsy is a Washington, D.C. native of full Jamaican heritage who has been writing professionally since 1999. Her skills run the gamut from corporate communications to health and clinical research article compositions. Music, however, is a personal love and a life-long passion. A one time dee-jay and road manager for a now defunct hip-hop group,  her goal is to be the artists’ go-to for a stellar, in-depth write up. She aspires to meet the needs of readers who want a fresh look at the music they’ve come to love.For more information on Gypsy please visit her Web site The SNS Nightlife. Follow here on Twitter @thesnsnightlife.  She can also be contacted at [email protected].


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