Rasheem Hill hears from a lot of doubters that at 28, he’s too old to be entering novice class matches to qualify for the professional boxing circuit.
But Saturday, Hill, who works and trains at the SouthBoX Gym in Mott Haven, will compete in his seventh USA-sanctioned match at the 2020 Ring Masters Championship in Queens. He needs 10 fights to qualify for open class matches, the next step before reaching the professional circuit.
“I have faced doubters, but I do not let it phase me because I run my own race.”
Hill, a 5-foot-6-inch boxer, will be fighting for the chance at winning the crown at Madison Square Garden in April if he is able to go all the way. He looks forward to the Ring Masters Championship after being unable to fight in the New York Metro Tournament.
“I could not fight in it because I work in the gym too,” Hill said. “I did not have enough time to fully train and get my weight down to stay in shape. So, I had to let that go.”
Hill currently fights in the welterweight division, a 152-pound weight limit. The Morrisania native began boxing over 10 years ago.
He has a record of three wins and three losses, with his last fight in August ending in a split decision win.
In the same gym he trains and works in, there are fighters who have more fights and reached professional status at or before the age of 28. Christian Otero, 25, already has fought in 100 matches and is in the process of turning pro.
Josue Vargas, 21, and Envar Halil, 31, both made their professional debuts before the age of 24.
Despite being a novice boxer at his age, Hill said the outside noise is something he does not entertain. He noted that he plans to stay active this year so he can work towards progressing to professional status.
Hill credits SouthBoX Gym for its positive environment from all boxers and trainers. There are other fighters in the gym participating in the same tournament, but he said he feels like everyone does well working with each other.
“The environment at the gym is very welcoming,” Hill said. “Everyone gets along. There is no jealousy or envy.”
A win for Hill on Saturday would be one step closer to dropping the novice status and would automatically schedule another match next week in the same tournament. Reaching the professional ranks would allow him to start receiving prize money for his fights.
Leading up to his match, Hill said, keeping a proper diet and conditioning have been points of emphasis while training.
He also said he makes sure not to overwork himself in the last week of the fight.
“A lot of boxers go through this,” Hill said. “They go through a subconscious thing of insecurity and not feeling like they are good enough. I came across a lot of those days through my hardships.”