Bobby Hornsby choosing own path in boxing, life

Elias Cepeda
Bobby Hornsby's life is full of inspiring tales (Gatorade)

Bobby Hornsby

Bobby Hornsby's life is full of inspiring tales (Gatorade)

There are things that Bobby Hornsby (8-0-1) expected, and there are things that he did not. Getting picked to be featured in an inspiring short film produced by Gatorade was something that the confident young light welterweight did anticipate.

“I was on the internet, surfing, and I saw a listing for a casting call,” he begins.

“They were casting for an athlete who had been through a lot of things in their life, who has struggles but who continues to work hard and compete at a high level. That’s me. I go through a lot all the time, so I thought, ‘let me try to fill this out, and get in touch with them.’

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“I don’t want to sound cocky, man, but I am not surprised that they chose me. I just had so many stories to tell, that I knew they’d choose me, and one of them.”

Mainly, the short film chose to tell the story of Hornsby growing up in a rough part of America, with an abusive, and criminal father, but making decisions to take him past the fate of his dad. There are other stories of perseverance in Hornsby’s life, however.

For example, his recent coma and near-death experience.  “In January I was in the hospital for an in and out surgery, but I had a bad reaction to the anesthesia,” he remembers.

“There was a seventy percent chance I would die. I was in a coma for three days, before I woke up in the ICU. It was horrible, but I got through it.”

Bobby Hornsby, it would seem, has inspiration to spare. There are those things that he did not expect, however.

Take, for instance, his draw at home in Atlanta to the unheralded Christian Steele (4-11-2) a year ago, in his last fight. A loss for a prospect can be disastrous in the carefully cultivated boxing world.

A draw, is toeing the line of disaster. Hornsby was shocked by his performance and the result, but says it taught him what changes he needed to make.

“Of course, I never expected that in my career,” the Georgia fighter says.

“I know that it was needed. Change was needed in my team, in my circle. I was doing everything on my own. I knew I had to change eventually. I’m just happy that it didn’t turn into a loss, because I wasn’t getting any sparring in. Georgia is not a big boxing state so usually I go to D.C. to train but my coach didn’t want to leave.

“I had to sell the tickets, I couldn’t really focus on the fight. It turned out ot be a draw in front of my home crowd. It put a lot of things in perspective for me. I can’t take anybody lightly – not at 140 pounds. I’m really a 130 pound fighter but I couldn’t find people in my weight class to fight.”

Hornsby’s plan, for now, is to focus on his training. He’s in the midst of a planned six month training tour of the U.S.

“I want to soak up the game in its entirety,” he explains.

“I’ve been learning different techniques, working with different trainers and getting knowledge from different fighters, such as Adrien [Broner].”

Hornsby is also meeting lots of promoters, and eventually knows he’ll likely have to sign with someone in order to get good fights.

The 26 year-old has mapped out a schedule to follow around the top five fighters in the 126, 130, and 135 weight classes, in the U.S. and has plans to do work in Vegas, Colorado Springs, Texas, Washington D.C. and Texas.

“If a situation presents itself, and makes sense to fight again, I’ll consider it, but I made a promise to myself to do this six months of training, first,” he maintains.

Gatorade has helped with the fighter’s tour, and so far he’s seen a much bigger share of the big-time boxing world than a young fighter like him might have otherwise.  Hornsby’s short film was debuted in Las Vegas during fight week of Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana’s rematch, in September.

As a sparring partner for Broner, Hornsby was also invited by the brash star to watch his most recent fight in Cincinnati. In all, Hornsby says he was motivated by all the exposure he’s gotten, people he’s met and traveling he’s done.

“I’ve been on this six-month training tour to meet people in boxing, and to try and get my name out in boxing. When Gatorade flew me out to Vegas, I was so excited,” he admits.

“When I got [there], it just blew my mind the attention I got. There were interviews, and passes and the people who live out here in Vegas were shocked by all the attention I got, as well. They just let me know that it was a big deal all the attention I got.

“It’s absolutely motivating. Knowing how much attention I’m getting, now, and all the people I’m working with – there’s a lot of expectation on me. I’ve got to work 100 times harder, now.”

That decision to turn up the heat on himself, and demand more, is just the latest in a life of decisions that have helped Hornsby thus far break a cycle of violence in his family and the community he grew up in.

In the Gatorade short film, Hornsby’s mother says that Bobby decided to make decisions in his life, and that set him apart from others. When asked, the young man can’t pin point a particular decision or time in his life where things began in the direction they have.

Instead, he cites small, daily moments, where he was pushed – by himself, or, often, others – to do the right thing. “There’s not really one decision,” he explains.

“It’s just a culmination of all the things I’ve done that have built me. Things like my friends deciding to break into a house when I was riding in a car with them, and me being, like, ‘naw.’ Or, me going to the boxing gym, and being in the gym with positive role models and not being in the street. I got to see a little bit more, and got to have a different view of the world by having the gym, and by having role models. They gave me a more positive outlook.”

Bobby credits his community for encouraging, and even chastising him into doing better, as well. As he learned – role models don’t have to themselves be perfect to teach you what’s right.

“I had a lot of role models, and not all were people who did the right thing,” he explains.

“My dad was known for what he did, and when I would go back and visit home, people who knew my father would ask me if my grades were good. Or, if they saw me doing something that was bad, or that I wasn’t supposed to be doing, they’d say, “I’ll beat you up if I find out you were doing this, again.’ People always tried to steer me in the right direction.

“I also have a relationship with my father. We talk. He always steered me in the right direction. I grew up always hearing that people thought I would be in jail like my dad. I wanted to prove them wrong. I never wanted to go down that path.”

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooSportsBox

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