Tracy Harris Patterson, is a two time world championship boxer, who has always shied away from the limelight. Born Tracy Harris, he is the adopted son of former Golden Gloves and World Champion Floyd Patterson, turned Golden Gloves success into a solid pro career. He won the super-bantamweight title with a two-round TKO of Thierry Jacob and defended the title for two years before losing the belt to Hector Acero-Sanchez in 1994. He later won the IBF super featherweight title against Eddie Hopson in 1995. Patterson retired in 2001 with a pro record of 63-8-2. Patterson lives in the Hudson Valley, in New York state, not far from the the Hugenot Boys Club of New Paltz where his dad trained him. He currently trains youth at APJ Boxing Club in Poughkeepsie, NY which recently hosted its First Annual Boxing Tournament, this past weekend. I spoke to Tracy on the eve of the tournament.
So what was it like growing up with your dad?
It was a bit intimidating, but I knew what I wanted to do and knew I wanted to give it a try and he encouraged that.
Okay so you are being a bit humble about everything because you did go on to win two World Championships.
When you're coming up as a kid, the things that you go through helps build and mold the person you become and I think being that those things weren't stable in my life in the beginning -- so what you perceive as being humble is actually me looking for stability. I built this wall around myself -- I didn't trust anybody when I was younger -- going from household to household, you finally start to get close to someone and then have to move on to the next one. So it was very, very tough for me, although I was so blessed because I didn't go hungry, they fed me and I had clothes on my back and I think that my dad helped me to start to trust people again because seeing how monumental of a man he was and how humble he was and I look at both where he came from and where I came from I said you know what I didn't have it so bad, he had it bad. So in my life I have been always looking for that stability.
What's so interesting about you, for someone that's had the success you have had, you lead a remarkably simple life. You're a corrections officer and live in the Hudson Valley and you train at APJ and you seem like you could care less for stardom. You didn't let it go to your head and run around Vegas spending all your money. You could have gone a certain route easily because you were a young man, and I mean that as a compliment.
That's because of how I was how I was raised. I was raised by an unbelievably special man. He really was every good word, and every good thing, you could possibly think of, to say about him, that's who raised me. He didn't have to, the things that he did for me he didn't have to, but he did them out of genuine kindness.
So you're at a APJ now and doing a lot of youth oriented stuff. What do you envision for the future? Do you feel like you're handing down a legacy that you received from your dad? Is that your mission?
I think that when you learn something like boxing -- it's a gift, so I see it as my obligation to pay back to the community by coming into a gym like APJ and to give back to the young men and women here, what I've learned. Some of them are going to take it and run with it and for them it's going to help form their lives, so they can go out and be positive people in life and that's what this sport is all: building character.