As Josh Gray navigates the world of boxing, he has a steady and experienced hand to guide him.
Gray is a top amateur fighter from Booneville. The 20-year-old has had an illustrious career so far – he’s won two junior Olympic tournaments, and he’s won two Golden Gloves titles – one in Mississippi, one in Florida. He is making plans to turn professional next year.
Steering Gray along this path is his father, Brad Gray, a former boxer himself. He was a highly ranked amateur and trained with the likes of former world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe.
Brad has seen the ins and outs of a sport that has long been plagued by corruption and manipulation.
“One thing I realized, nobody’s going to look after Josh, promote him and move his career the way I will. It’s a dirty game, it is,” Brad said.
That can be especially true for rising prospects like Josh, who fights as a super-lightweight (135 pounds). Brad has told prospective trainers who want Josh to move out West, “You don’t get Josh unless you get me.”
Josh is fine with the arrangement. His dad has been working with him since he first strapped on a pair of boxing gloves at age 7. Josh had his first amateur fight at 9, and by that point he was hooked.
“I live with him, so having him come home just to tell me, ‘All right, let’s go, man, let’s go work out, let’s go train,’ that’s one of the biggest things, because he’s there pushing me,” Josh said. “I already have that drive in me, but him with me as well gives me an extra little push.”
Josh is currently training in Orlando, and he has a big fight coming up in December. The fight will be a homecoming of sorts for Gray. The hope is a deal can be worked out to fight in Corinth, although Tunica is a possibility.
“I’m really excited for it, just to have all my crowd there,” he said.
Gray fought in Oxford on Oct. 9, knocking out Kyle Peters of Lubbock, Texas, in the third round.
Gray wants to get in a few more such fights before turning pro. He wanted to do so this year, but his father has preached patience.
“Josh is very marketable, so the longer we stay in the amateurs, the more people know who he is,” Brad said.
Josh has bought into the plan. He knows his time is coming, and he said he’ll be ready for it.
“He knows what’s best for me, and I’m just going to sit back and listen to my pops and go from there. Next year would be the best thing. I’m still young; I just turned 20.”