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Momentous win for local boxer

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was nothing new for Benjamin Gravitt.

As he stepped into the ring last month in Macon to trade punches with his opponent, Gravitt already had more than 200 boxing matches under his belt.

While it was a familiar setting for Gravitt, and it was a routine he’d experienced hundreds of times over the years, this was different.

For the first time, the 22-year-old Gravitt wasn’t fighting as an amateur.

When Gravitt delivered his first blow in the fight that was held at the Shrine Temple in Macon, he did so as a professional boxer.

“I’ve had 232 amateur fights,” said Gravitt, who grew up in LaGrange and graduated from Troup High. “I’ve worked hard for seven years for this. There was a lot of anxiety leading up to it. My whole family was there, people from LaGrange came out to support me. I just wanted to show everybody. I had to prove myself.”

While there may have been some nerves, it didn’t affect Gravitt’s performance.

After knocking his opponent down in the first round, Gravitt knocked him out in the second round, making him 1-0 as a professional fighter.

“You get in there and touch gloves with the guy and you’re real nervous, you’ve got butterflies,” Gravitt said. “But once you get in there and throw a few punches you kind of settle down, your adrenaline goes away, and you’ve got to remember all the stuff that me and coaches have done in (training). I was prepared for that moment.”

While it was a punch to the head that put his opponent in the canvas in the opening round, it was a flurry of punishing body shots that finished him off.

“I was pressuring him the first round, trying to figure him out,” Gravitt said. “And he did something in the first round, he was trying to show off, and I caught him with a head shot, and caught him off-balance. In the second round, I caught him with two left hands to the liver. When I was an amateur, I was caught with that. It’ll make your whole body shut down. The body shot’s my favorite punch. That’s how I got him. I got him with two body shots, and the second one he couldn’t get up from.”

When the knockout was declared, Gravitt celebrated his momentous victory with his cheering section, including his supportive mother, as well as his coach Randy Hardaway.

“He took care of business,” Hardaway said. “He went in there with a plan, and he did it. It’s going to get even better.”

Gravitt’s journey to the professional ranks began eight years ago when he started working with Hardaway, and it has been a productive coach and pupil relationship.

When Gravitt was 14-years-old he was interested in mixed martial arts, but he ended up going the boxing route, and he has been enormously successful, especially after he fully committed to the sport.

“A lot of the fights I lost in the amateurs, coach told me the only person I ever let beat me was me,” Gravitt said. “A lot of the fights I lost I wasn’t in shape, but I was still in there boxing when I shouldn’t have been.”

That hasn’t been a problem for a while.

Whether he’s in the gym training with Hardaway, or putting in his normal five or six miles of running reach day, Gravitt is consumed with being the best he can be.

“When I am relaxing, I can’t enjoy it, because I think I should be in the gym training,” Gravitt said. “It’s the only thing that really makes me feel alive. That feeling you get before a fight and after a fight, it’s the best high I could ask for. That’s what I’m chasing every time.”

Being a competitive boxer is not an easy life.

There are two men, after all, whose objective is to deliver a punch powerful enough to put his opponent on the ground.

“It takes a lot out of the body,” Gravitt said. “That’s why guys get so much respect from each other. We’re all just trying to feed our family and make a better way of life.”

Gravitt’s second professional fight will be on May 4th in Norcross at the Horizons Event Banquet Hall.

“I want to be able to start making some money and sign a contract,” Gravitt said. “I’m just being patient and waiting, but it’s hard. I’m trying to maintain a job and still do boxing. At first it was school and boxing, and now it’s work and boxing. I’m just trying to keep on going.”

With money on the line, Gravitt said it’s different now.

If there was a friendly rivalry between amateur boxers, when it comes to the pro ranks Gravitt said all bets are off.

“In the pros, these guys cuss you out, talk about your momma, and try to get in your head,” Gravitt said. “After the fight, you can be friends. Before the fight, we’re not friends.”