“He’s the reason I box. He’s the reason I had it in my life,” Hernandez-Harrison said. “He watched very little of my boxing. He’s been there for all my best moments in boxing, so that part was tough. It was too hard.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say, ‘Everything’s going well’. A lot of people want to do that. I’m not that type. It sucks. There are days when I wake up and think, ‘F— that, I don’t want to go to the gym today. For what? To do it again.’ I don’t want to.’ “
Harrison, 62, was fatally shot Sept. 24 outside his home in the 2700 block of 30th Street SE. The attack happened around 11:40 p.m., and Harrison died at the hospital. The suspects, described by the authorities as three men dressed in black and carrying handguns, are absconding.
While the investigation continues, Hernandez-Harrison (34-0-1, 20 KOs) is set to fight Mexico’s Jose Humberto Corral (20-31, 12 KOs) on Saturday night for the first time since the tragedy. The heavyweights will face off in an eight-round feature bout called “Beltway Battles Round 3” at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.
Hernandez-Harrison spoke about her father last week at the Urban Boxing Navy Yard, which was the last time they saw each other. Two days before the shooting, Hernandez-Harrison, 28, and his father attended an open workout for the news media ahead of “Beltway Battles Round 3,” scheduled for Oct. 1.
The card was to feature Hernandez-Harrison in the main event, albeit against a different opponent, in her return from a more than two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Hernandez-Harrison, the layoffs included mental exhaustion, which led to weight gain. By the time he returned to boxing as the promoter for the first two installments of “Beltway Battle,” Hernandez-Harrison had gained more than 100 pounds from his early years as a welterweight contender.
But with Harrison’s encouragement, Hernandez-Harrison began to recapture the joy she first found in the sport. That change in perspective, along with getting married, led Hernandez-Harrison to shed the weight he had accumulated during his inactivity. He was itching to fight again.
“Some of the pictures he posted [on social media] If he says it’s the happiest moment of his life and the proudest moment of his life, Hernandez-Harrison said of his father. “A lot of people can look at it and say, ‘Damn, that’s sad,’ but for me, I look at it and find peace in it. We had common problems. We didn’t talk for a while, but we came back, and we finally became extraordinary. Couldn’t be better.”
Hernandez-Harrison was ready for a comeback, telling The Washington Post two days after the shooting that he still wanted to fight next Saturday. But event organizers postponed the card to this weekend citing security concerns.
Hernandez-Harrison, meanwhile, has paid little attention to the investigation. His family is evaluating him with any updates, but Hernandez-Harrison indicated that the positive energy is channeled into boxing as opposed to letting the investigation consume him.
“I’m not getting into that,” he said. “I am religious and my peace is knowing where my father is. I’m not here – I don’t want revenge. A lot of people want justice. I honestly don’t care. Like, I’m happy with where my dad is, I’m just focusing on my own life and that’s it. I know many people don’t want to hear that. Even my mother said ‘we want justice’. I don’t have I don’t have that in mind.
After his father’s death, Hernandez-Harrison worked with Billy Briscoe and Bruce Babashon as his primary coaches. Briscoe has worked with Harrison in previous training camps. Babsion is a relative newcomer to the Hernandez-Harrison team.
Because Hernandez-Harrison’s weight was also the last he was scheduled to fight, Saturday’s fight resulted in him competing at heavyweight.
Regardless, getting in the ring as soon as possible to honor his father was paramount, Hernandez-Harrison said, adding that the Old School Boxing Gym continues to operate thanks to donations from the community, which has long acknowledged Harrison’s generosity in support. Homeless and others in need.
According to organizers, a 10-bell count is planned for Saturday night’s card, as are other tributes to Harrison.
“He’s serious, but we’re not as single-minded as we always can be and like to be because of life circumstances,” Babbion said of Hernandez-Harrison. “So I think his head is in a good place. I think his heart is the right place for everyone else. He’s getting a good job at the gym, but I’d be dishonest to say that the situation hasn’t challenged us in unique ways that none of us are familiar with.