12 Rounds With … Darwin Price

Unbeaten 140-pound prospect talks about how he traversed a tough upbringing in St. Louis to become a top track star at Grambling State University and is now trying to find similar success inside the ring.

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Price vs Starks highlights: September 3, 2016

Darwin “Pay The” Price (13-0, 6 KOs) overcame a rough upbringing as a teenager growing up in St. Louis, Missouri to become a nationally successful track star and boxer who once faced current welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

Price graduated from Grambling State University with a kinesiology degree in 2012. A top distance runner as a Normandy High senior, Price was Missouri’s first black athlete to win the “triple crown”  — the 800-meters, 1,600-meters and 3,200-meters in the large schools level and also went 10-1 during his brief stint as a Normandy wrestler.

Now a married father and a slick, 5-foot-11, 140-pound, boxer-puncher, Price has won seven of his bouts by unanimous decision. After dismantling Javontae Starks behind his piston-like jab and power shots for a seventh-round TKO in September 2016, Price has earned consecutive unanimous decisions over Hylon Williams and Angel Hernandez.

Hernandez represented Price’s first fight under Aaron Navarro out of Lou Savarese’s Houston, Texas-based Fight Fit & Main Boxing gym. Price previously trained with Ronnie Shields at the Houston-area Plex Boxing Gym, the same venue where Shields guides former 154-pound titleholders Jermall Charlo and Erislandy Lara.

How was your childhood?

I’ve grown up in many different areas of St. Louis, going to elementary school in Ferguson when I was younger where Mike Brown got killed. After that, I moved to the Berkley, an inner city suburb of St. Louis. I started high school as a freshman at McClure North.

I eventually got expelled for inciting a riot when I was living in Berkeley. I missed my entire sophomore year at McClure North High. I was sitting at home for a whole year. It was tough trying to stay focused and not hang out with the wrong people when that was all I had around me.

I ran away from home. But my Dad, Darwin Price Sr., took me to court to make me come back. It was crazy. There were times where my Dad would tell me, “You’re going to end up in jail or you’re going to end up dead.”

I then moved with my mother to Bel-Ridge, Missouri, to start the 10th grade over again at Normandy High. I wanted more out of life than just the streets and was always one of those kids who wanted to do better. What saved me was sports.

How did athletics channel your focus to education and eventually college?

After missing that year, I went to Normandy High School to repeat the 10th grade and one of the security guards invited me to run cross country and track. I started wrestling for a year and then I ran track and then I did boxing at the same time when I was 15.

What’s wild is that the same year I started running track my friend got me into boxing. But on December 27, 2016, that same friend got locked up for murder. That doesn’t seem like that long ago. Anyway, I was winning everything that I ran.

I ended up being so good at it that as a senior, I was Missouri’s first African American to win the 800, mile and two-mile runs in the history of the state meet. My grades improved. I was on the front cover of Rise Magazine.

I already had a daughter when I received a full ride for a scholarship to Grambling State University. I had had full ride offers from a heap of colleges to run track and cross country, but I went to Grambling like my high school track coach and mentor, DeAnthony Smotherman.

How did you do in college?

I graduated in four years at the age of 21 with a Bachelors Degree in kinesiology. I was the seven-time MVP of The SWAC [Southwestern Athletic Conference.] I won the Texas Relays in 2010 in the 1,500 meters, and I qualified for the regionals in the 800 almost every year.

I took a break from boxing, but I did go to the U.S. Nationals in 2011 and fought Errol Spence the first night at 152. He beat me on points.

[Former 140- and 147-pound champion] Devon Alexander and his trainer, Kevin Cunningham, are from my hometown.

There was one point in time I thought about going out to train with Kevin where he is now in West Palm Beach, Florida. Life’s been a challenge, and there have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up and felt like I had no help.

But I’ve moved forward in life. That’s why I want to speak to kids and motivate and inspire them. I may choose to go into physical therapy after boxing, but I have a lawyer helping me try to start a non-profit for Houston-based under privileged kids and being a motivational speaker.

That’s why my fight name, “Pay The Price,” symbolizes myself and everybody else who is paying the price to get to wherever they need to go in life. Unbeaten 140-pound prospect Darwin Price

What inspired you to become a professional boxer?

What inspired me to go pro was the death of my younger cousin, Preston Freeman. He was murdered at a nightclub in St. Louis.

He was from St. Louis also and started as a pro in Salinas, California, with Max Garcia, where I eventually ended up beginning my pro career.

How much of a motivator are your children?

I have two daughters, ages 8 and 11. We live in an apartment in Houston. They’re my life. They mean everything to me.

It puts a lot of pressure on me as a father and a man to establish something for my daughters, knowing that if I fail, my family has nothing to fall back on.

I want them to always have a roof over their heads that is paid for and not to have to struggle like I did. I want to make sure they’re secure after growing up with nothing.

That’s why my fight name, “Pay The Price,” is also my brand, which symbolizes myself and everybody else who is paying the price to get to wherever they need to go in life.

Why the change from Shields to Navarro?

I got a lot out of working with Shields, Lara, Jermall and Jermell Charlo and Rodriguez. They taught me a lot, helping me to tightening up my game in boxing, and they had great work ethics.

Around Ronnie, I was like a sponge learning all I could. But I had to focus on Darwin Price and the attention I needed. Now Aaron, my uncle, Richard Moore, and my cut man, Nick Gavin, are my corner.

What is your injury and the prognosis?

I was sparring and in the second round, I stepped back and my patellar tendon in my right knee snapped on me. I thought it was a dislocation at first because it was so painful. I didn’t feel any pain in it before that and warmed up my body really good.

The ambulance came, and I waited all night at the hospital to be seen an orthopedic specialist. They did an x-ray and told me that I had a torn patellar tendon that required surgery. They did a three-hour surgery, and there’s going to be a 12-week healing process. I’ll be okay after three or four months.

Have you had a defining fight as of yet?

Stopping Starks was a big one, but it was just another steppingstone in my career. The defining moment will be when I win the title. I have much to work on. I’m hard on myself and I’m my own worst critic.

After this injury, I’ll take a tune-up and get right back into my goal of trying to fight the best. I have to be smart about fighting the best, but I’m ready for that. I haven’t had my best performance yet, by a long shot.

For a closer look at Darwin Price, check out his fighter page.

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