Boxing is a whisper sport. Few things about the game are obvious. Six years ago, rumors quietly reached Atif Oberton, who tried to sway a promising light heavyweight from Sharon Baker.
The pair trained for much of the career of Hall of Famer and all-time great Bernard Hopkins. What they knew was told to her.
Under Baker’s tutelage, Oberton, now 24, took a big step to a new level when he beat Russia’s Artem Brusov by eight decisions on Showtime’s national television. ShoBox: New Generation From the Wind Creek Events Center in Bethlehem on January 20th.
Over the years, many trainers have tried to lure undefeated southpaw Overton (8-0, 6 KOs) away from Baker. And that’s what you thought—she’s a rare female trainer in the men’s game.
Overton, who takes a very intelligent approach to a very brutal game, was not trying to be persuaded.
“I didn’t care if Sharon was the woman to train me, and I didn’t care who had to say what,” said Overton, who was promoted by Reading-based Marshall Kaufman. “It’s been a while since someone approached me about my training. But it happened once. They were like, ‘She’s a woman, I can’t help you.’ I was. A lot of people gave up on me.
“I had a trainer who quit. Doesn’t react to yelling or yelling I’ve been with Shar’ron for 6 years and have never had a shouting match.
“Sharon is a great teacher. We have a great relationship because we discuss things. She is committed to me. I am committed to her. She knows the sport. Like I said, I don’t really care what anyone else has to say.She’s my trainer.”
A graduate of Paul Robson High School, the 6-foot-3 Overton had an illustrious amateur career. He won several amateur national competitions, but when he lost the national competition at age 18, his original trainer, whom he didn’t want to name, left him and others were quickly approached.
He was drawn to Baker.
“I was taught well”
A candidate for the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame, 65-year-old Baker has been boxing for 47 years. She was with Overton when she won the National Golden Globe Award for the second time. He competed in a national competition and called Baker to let him know how he was doing and ask for advice.
A graduate of William Penn Girls’ High School, Baker knew she wanted to box when she was 18, but in 1976, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission wasn’t ready to sanction women’s boxing. The late Sam Hickman was her trainer, and after years of boxing at her gym, she grew frustrated with the ignorance and lack of opportunity of her time.
It was then that Hickman brought up the possibility of training fighter jets. Before his death, he began working exclusively with Richardson.
Fisher and Richardson were the type you would see climbing mountains in monk tunics.
she channels them.
“I was taught very well,” said Baker. “I can still hear the Najim brothers saying things like ‘swim dry’, ‘clever and sharp’, ‘take off the chain’, ‘stroke your nose’ and ‘wear a hat’. Atif reminds me of an old-school fighter in many ways: he studies not only his technique, but the veteran, talks about boxing, watches boxing, and does boxing.He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t do drugs, and you don’t have to worry about Atif Oberlton hanging out in the middle of some club on a Saturday night. And he’s also a sponge: once you say something to him, he’ll go out and do it.
When Oberlton isn’t demonstrating his tearing power in the ring, he’s a seasoned clothing designer who once feared Brother’s sewing machine.
“I’ve always liked looking good since high school,” he said. “I’ve always loved creating new and unique looks. As I got older, I started making my own clothes when my girlfriend gave me a seeder. It was there for years until I overcame my fear of it and started using it.
“After this fight, I’m going to buy a new sewing machine.”
Oberlton’s fight with 31-year-old Brusov (12-1, 11 KO) took Oberlton into new territory. He went into battle with a simple game and his plan.
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The victory marked the second consecutive win for the undefeated fighter Oberton. This win showed that Overton can win using overwhelming power, not just boxing. Oberton used his jab well against an experienced amateur opponent, but he got hit more than he expected.
“It was a tough fight and I think I showed my character,” Overton said. “This Russian was no slouch. It was a challenge and I’m glad I took that challenge. Basically, I learned how tough I am. Leading up to this fight , I faced a lot of adversity, my gym burned out, I had to change my training schedule and reorganize my entire routine. The toughest critic. I thought I could have done better with the jab.”
His coach isn’t worried. She knows he will get there.
“Atif is like a coach’s dream,” said Baker. “It makes your job as a coach so much easier when you have fighters who are willing to be taught, willing to work and willing to go the extra mile.”