When your job entails cracking grown men in the mouth with enough force to send Chiclets slaloming down throats like clumsy snow boarders tumbling down a mountainside, you need your rest. And yet that’s something that fathers of 3-month-old twins get little of.
Think throwing dozens of punches per round at a moving target that’s trying to knock your block off in return is draining? Try doing that by day, then getting a couple of newborns to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time by night.
This is now Anthony Dirrell’s world. And he’s loving it.
It’s early on a recent Tuesday morning, and Dirrell should sound fatigued—a never-ending deluge of diapers and formula and sit-ups will do that to a man.
Instead, the father of three is waxing ecstatic about welcoming the newest additions to his family: twin boys Noah and Nash.
“I’m enjoying every bit of it,” he says. “They’re getting big. I really don’t want them to grow yet, because I’ve got a 4-year old now and I know how they can be when they get old. I’m just taking my time and cherishing every moment that I can with the boys.”
As a boxer, the former 168-pound champ is eyeing a return to the ring in early spring after wrecking Marco Antonio Rubio in September.
“More than likely I’ll be back in there in the middle of April,” he says, “and get this thing back on the ball.”
As a dad, he’s balancing the demands of fighting and fatherhood, both of which are formidable.
When asked how the rigors of the sport have impacted him over the years, it’s not aching bones and sore muscles that Dirrell mentions. Rather, he speaks of the emotional toll of having to leave his family behind when he departs for training camp.
“That’s the tough part,” he says.
However, Dirrell’s not one to insulate his children from the sometimes-harsh realities of prizefighting. His oldest son, A.J., is aware of what his father does.
“He watches the fights with me,” Dirrell says. “He wants to do it,” he adds, the dad in him coming out, “but I won’t let him.”
One gets the sense that Dirrell would prefer his sons to play a sport with slightly fewer haymakers involved, like basketball. Dirrell hits the court twice a week recreationally on a team that includes former Michigan State stars Morris Peterson and Antonio Smith, both of whom share Dirrell’s hometown of Flint, Michigan.
“We’re not as good,” Dirrell says of he and his teammates in comparison to those celebrated Spartans, “but we’re trying.”
Flint has been in the news plenty of late with the city’s toxic water issues, but Dirrell’s long been active in the community via his Anthony Dirrell Foundation, which focuses on children’s education and aiding in the battle against cancer. The latter cause hits close to home for Dirrell, as he's a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I want to show the kids here that when you make it, you need to give back and show the other kids to do the same,” he says. “That’s my main focus—giving some of the kids a father figure. Most of them don’t have that.”
Meanwhile, having kids of his own has added to Dirrell’s immense desire for victory, he says.
After all, he obviously wants his sons to be winners, and it’s up to Dad to show them how it’s done.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment for me to get in the ring and win, because I know what I’m fighting for,” Dirrell says. “I’m fighting for my family to live a better life than I had. And that’s what we’re doing.”
- Anthony Dirrell