Frontproof Media's Future of Boxing spotlight: Sammy "Hurricane" Valentin
By Hector Franco
December 9, 2016
Interview conducted on January 25, 2016
This is a series where FrontProof Media will be putting the spotlight on the future of the sport of boxing. We will be focusing on an upcoming fighter in the welterweight division, Sammy Valentin. Valentin is currently 10-0 with seven knockouts. He is from the Tampa Bay area and of Puerto Rican descent. If you haven’t seen Sammy Valentin fight before it will due you justice to go on youtube and look up some of his fights. Not only is Valentin one of the most intelligent fighters inside the ring, but outside of the ring as well. He is only 22 years of age with the wisdom of someone much older.
HF: Starting off How old are you and where are you from?
SV: I’m 21 years old and from Tampa, Florida. I live in Land ‘O’ Lakes now.
HF: You’re 21 years old, so tell me how long have you been boxing?
SV: I started in the gym when I was five years old and had my first fight when I was eight. I Just recently turned pro in October of 2014.
HF: I know you started young in the sport, but what got you into the sport of boxing? What drew you to the sport?
SV: The way my family was back in the day. We used to always watch boxing. I kind of grew up around it. At the time my dad was training an old friend of ours and he started to come every day. We had a gym back then in the backyard and we would go back and forth from a gym out on Waters (street in Tampa, FL). After that, he built the gym in the backyard and always trained us. I’ve always been around it and it caught my eye watching it on T.V. As a family we would watch it and I just loved it. I saw how focused they were and driven. It was exactly what I wanted to do.
HF: Now let me ask you since you’ve been watching for so long and I know you’re a fan of the sport, who were some of your favorite fighters growing up?
SV: A lot of the tapes that my dad used to show from back in the day were of Sugar Ray Robinson and Mike Tyson. I grew into Felix Trinidad especially since my family was always big on Trinidad. You know I idolized him and one of the fighters in the game that I respect very much is Miguel Cotto.
HF: You currently fight in the welterweight division, is that a division that you plan on staying at to get your first world title?
SV: Oh Yeah. I will stay there for as long as I can and eventually I may move up. I’m looking at staying at this division for as long as I can.
HF: For the last decade or so this division has been the money division in the sport with fighters like Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. Now that those two are out or on their way out how do you view the division moving into a new generation?
SV: Well it’s definitely been growing with more fighters. I figure it’s the average height of a lot people now in days. There is a lot of talent that’s coming up for sure. There are a lot of fighters and I plan on being one of them. There are a lot of great fighters coming from the Nationals in that division. It’s always been a packed division even in the amateurs. It’s getting better and better.
HF: Speaking of that division there’s a lot of fighters who fight with a different style. How would you describe your boxing style?
SV: At the moment it’s kind of how I’ve always been. I incorporate many different styles when I’m in the ring. It’s all a matter of adapting to whomever I’m fighting. I can box, brawl, I can do all of that, but it’s all a matter of who’s in front of me. I always try to be well rounded in my skills. I work hard for it.
HF: Fighters today get a lot of criticism. When you're in the ring do you think about just getting the win or entertaining the fans?
SV: The way I see it is, it is about the fans, but you also got to think about yourself. A lot of times it can be hard because you’re the one that’s in the ring. You’re the one that’s getting hit. You’re the one that’s in there with another person. You have to respect the fighters, like Mayweather. You’re the one that’s in there taking damage; it’s your job to make sure that you get out of there safely. I do believe in entertaining the fans. I love to fight and I love to box too. I love to show my skills. I can get in there and brawl, but you work to perfect your craft. There’s a balance between the two. You have to know how to move your head, how to use your jab, but also know how to hold your own. You have to be able to do both.
HF: It sounds like you will adapt to whatever your opponent gives you.
SV: Yeah I’ll box when I need to, brawl when I need to. Move my head, use my footwork. You have to be able to do everything not just one particular thing.
HF: Closing in a little here, we talked about what you like to do inside the ring. So let’s look at the work you do outside the ring. What’s a typical day in training look like for you?
SV: As well as the way I am in the ring I like to be well-rounded. I like to use a lot of different exercises for training. I do a lot of cross fit. I incorporate a lot of training that are used in other sports. I split up my days doing a lot of boxing training, working on my skills hitting the heavy bag, working the mitts. Other days I focus on conditioning, doing cross fit and hitting the pool. I try not to pack too much into one day. I’ve figured out that splitting it up is the best. You have to use conditioning to get the body just where it needs to be. Other days you have to hone your skills and get used to punching as much as you need to. This goes with your skills, the head movement, and the footwork. It helps to split up the days to build muscle memory instead of trying to pack up little bits into one day. When you split up the training you can really focus on those certain areas.
HF: Being in shape for boxing is different than other sports, how important is conditioning for a fighter?
SV: Conditioning is one of the most important things you can do along with honing your skills. You always have to have your skills. There’s this saying that my dad has. “Someone who works hard can beat anyone with skill”. If someone with skills works as hard as anyone else, you’re unbeatable. You have the skills, but you need the speed and strength to be successful. You need to have it all. Even on days when I’m focusing on just boxing, I make sure to take the time to do speed burn outs and power burn outs. Getting used to always having your hands moving, head moving and feet moving. You have to be constantly moving. Anything that you can do to keep your body moving to give yourself a bigger lung span. That’s why I do pull exercises. It’s like the missing ingredient to help break limitations. A lot of people don’t do that; they only go until they get tired.
HF: As of right now your only 5 fights into your career. How do you see yourself in ten to 15 years? What would it be for you to consider yourself to have had a successful career?
SV: The way I see it is, no matter what happened I kept pushing forward. Making big steps and getting to that world championship. Never backing down. Always pushing past my limitations. Always getting better after each fight. I’ve heard so many people say that boxing isn’t the same that it used to be. You have MMA coming out of nowhere and people saying that boxing is going to fall out. The way I always saw it is being a boxer you have so much more skill. You’re perfecting a certain craft. Boxing throughout the years I always hear boxing is dying out little by little. I always saw myself as being the one who brought it back on the map. I’ve always envisioned myself being different from anybody else. I’ve wanted to change the way people think about boxing. At one point people use to say that boxing was an art. Now there’s the opposite where people just think it’s dangerous and it’s just people beating each other up. I’ve always wanted to change the way people see boxing.
HF: Just to switch it up here a little for the fan’s that will be reading this interview, what are some of your hobbies outside boxing?
SV: I always try to do something different. It’s hard for me to stay still. I usually just hang out with my family. I have a real small circle. I have a handful of friends. I usually go out to the park. I try to entertain myself with things like reading and music. I do a little bit of everything instead of being stuck just doing one thing. I like to be well rounded not only in the sport but in everything that I do. You don’t have to be confined to certain things. I always keep myself busy so it’s really hard to say something in particular.
HF: A lot of young people in this generation take a long time to figure out what they want to do with their lives. You sound like you have your head on straight and that you’ve known for a long time what you want to do.
SV: My parents always kept me in church and kept me out of trouble. It feels good to say that I’ve never wanted to be distracted by other things. Never wanted to go out and party. I like to enjoy life the way it should be. I love going to church and getting that spiritual motivation. It’s important to enjoy life and do what you want to do in life. I don’t want to offend people, but I have a strong faith. It gives me a drive and a peace of mind throughout the days. It makes me feel like I can do anything I want to. It gives me confidence and makes everything that much easier. It helps me stay focused on my vision. In everything I do I try my best.
HF: I want to thank you so much for this interview and opening up for the fans and us at FrontProof Media. I think I can speak for all fans that we’re all excited to see what you do in the future.
SV: Thank you man, I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
(Featured Photo: Joseph Correa/Frontproof Media)