When Tim Bradley was in the second grade he received a school expulsion for fighting. History repeated itself in the fourth grade and by the fifth grade the administrators of the school district in Indio, California were ready to give up and toss him from the school district.
Luckily, Bradley’s father, affectionately known as ‘Big Ray’, worked in the school district at the time and was able to have his son commuted to another house of education a mile away from home. The move now seems fortuitous as the end of the fifth grade yielded a jovial daily informal slap box sparring session, which proved advantageous to the young Bradley. The process of play fighting, with a peer who was actually training to be a boxer at the time, revealed a new world of abilities he never knew he had.
“I was just always quicker than he was and I was always able to out land him and even though he was boxing I still just had better coordination,” said Bradley enthusiastically. “I was an athlete, I was quicker I was faster. I begged my father for a couple of months to allow me to go to the boxing club and he said, ‘hey only on one condition; do you want to go?’ I said yeah I want to go. Please take me, I want to go. He’s like, ‘you don’t want to fight’ and I said ‘yeah’ and he’s like ‘well only on one condition, if you like it you can’t quit.’ I said that’s a deal, Pops, no problem. So when I got in there, man it was just like I’m home; this is it man.”
Raised by a devoutly religious mother and a tough-as-nails father, Bradley used the steam from his father’s nurturing intensity as the fuel of his ambition. Although Bradley showed natural ability and strength early on, when things became challenging, Big Ray wasted no time in using boxing lessons as life lessons to keep his son motivated to succeed.
“I just remember in my first sparring session I got beat up by my friend (laughs) and my Dad said something interesting to me. I was sad after, had a bloody nose, I was crying, my neck was sore, I had a headache. My Dad said, ‘well you want to quit?’ and I said ‘nah’ I was pissed off because I have a lot of pride. He was like, ‘well you want to quit’ and I said, ‘nah I don’t want to quit I want to get better’ and he said, ‘well you know what we got to do, right? Well we’ve got to work.’ From that day on I’m up in the morning time at 5:30 out on the road doing roadwork. After school I would go to the gym get home do my homework and wake up and do the same thing over and over and over man and the next time I sparred my friend I beat the brakes off him, man.”
This work ethic remained and as Bradley blossomed into the adult pugilist, so did his prospects and his ability to yield championships. 31 fights and four championship belts later, Tim Bradley, who has worked hard his whole life with the lessons from his father that he’s treated like homilies, is still reeling from the biggest win of his career. The split decision win that turned Bradley into a household name was over fan-beloved Manny Pacquaio and was instantly discounted as just another bad decision, another example of why boxing is flawed, displayed on the world’s stage for fans to see; however, amid the cries of foul judgment lie Tim Bradley, ready to bask in the light of his biggest victory.
Yet his sun never rose.
“I win the fight and now you are discrediting me and saying that I didn’t win the fight? I just think it’s wrong so this fight for me is basically redemption. Its like, I beat you one time nobody believes I beat you. I’m going to beat you again but everybody’s going to say damn he beat him and that’s mainly what I want out of this fight. I’ve proven myself over and over that I can fight that I belong in the ring with the best fighters in the world. I don’t have to prove that I just have to just win decisive enough to where the fans and all the people watching around the world can say, ‘hey Tim Bradley really beat him and he beat him good this time’ and that’s all the credit I need man.”
Having beaten Ruslan Provodnikov in 2013’s Fight of The Year and then Juan Manuel Marquez, Bradley walks into 2014 after having the biggest two years of his undefeated career. Yet the fact that he still sits a man seeking redemption is the boxing story of the year. This Saturday against Manny Pacquaio, we will witness a Tim Bradley intent on a knockout victory to define his prowess while starting the year the same way he ended the years previous, with his hand raised.
“Everything I said for the Marquez fight came to the light, the Ruslan (Provodnikov) fight was crazy and there was a lot of drama so a lot of people know I’ve got a lot of heart, that I wont back down from a fight, that I’m willing to stand in there and do anything it takes to win a fight so my stature has definitely risen, man. I’m in a different place now and I just feel it’s my time right now.”