American Hero: Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring

In boxing we often hear sordid stories of unscrupulous characters that operate behind the scenes, and fighters that probably aren’t the best role models, other than their ability to box at the highest levels of the sport/business.

Although the same things happen in other professional sports, boxing seems to get always get the bad reputation of being somewhat of a home for the people you like watching on television but wouldn’t likely invite into your home for dinner.

Every now and then though a person comes along with a story that proves that the sweet science can also save lives and help to mold men and women into persons we can be proud of as well as look up to, in the ring and in life.

I was fortunate enough to meet one of those people recently. His name is Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring and he also happens to be The WBO World Junior Lightweight Champion.

His story is an inspiring one that although has it share of sadness and difficulty, is a story of perseverance and victory on the biggest stages of life, as well as within the day to day struggles that many of us face.

Born and raised in Coram, New York, Herring boxed as a teen but didn’t really see boxing as a way out of the tough circumstances he was in, including seeing some of his childhood friends hanging out on the streets, selling drugs, and even worse in some cases.

Fate had a better plan for Herring though and when a young man that he considered his best friend, Stephen Brown joined the Marines, it would prove to be a move that would also play in important part of the rest of the life of the young boxer. Reason being, was because when Stephen Brown completed his basic training and so forth, and was able to come back home to Coram, New York for the first time, he was able to convince a then seventeen year old Herring, that The United States Marines could be a good place for him as well.

Herring did in fact join the Marines and not long after he did, his best friend Stephen Brown died after a battle with lung cancer. It would be one of the first but not the last bouts of adversity that Herring would battle. A veteran of two deployments in Iraq, he also battled the horror of seeing many men and women who he had worked with, die while serving their country in the war in Iraq. He didn’t realize it at the time but the memories of life lived while at war and of the people he came to know that died there, would come back to haunt him later when he would be forced to battle (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Then in 2009 he faced the worst situation any person could face when he lost his newborn daughter Ariyanah, who was born on May 25, 2009, Memorial Day, to sudden infant death syndrome. This threw him into a tailspin and he stopped training as well as socializing with his friends, and began drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism.

After spending months on a path of self-destruction he felt his daughter’s presence one day and felt she wouldn’t want to see him throw his life away, and he decided that he would turn his life around and fight harder in honor of his daughter.

He became a stronger, more determined person and fighter than before and before long won an Armed Forces Title, then a U.S.A. Boxing National Title, and eventually a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, where he represented our country in the 2012 Olympics. He would lose his first bout in the tournament but as the team captain of the US Boxing Team, displayed true leadership in encouraging and supporting his teammates, rather than sulking or making excuses.

He decided to go from the amateur to the professional ranks in boxing in 2012, and retired from The Marines at that time, in order to focus his full-time attention on his professional boxing career. Herring found mostly success in the professional ranks and was seemingly on his way to a world title shot, when he began feeling the effects of (PTSD) Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, several years ago. This came in direct relation to his two tours of combat duty as a Marine, in his service to our country.

He initially struggled and suffered in his battle with PTSD, beginning to drink again and going through mood swings. He wasn’t successful at first because he felt it was just another battle he had to fight on his own, as he had wired himself to do for many years, and didn’t realize that PTSD was an opponent that he couldn’t beat alone.

His wife Jen was finally able to convince him to seek help in this battle and after taking that first step in admitting that this was a battle he may not be able to win alone, he began speaking to therapists and slowly making improvements.

It hasn’t been an easy battle and it’s an ongoing battle that these few paragraphs can’t begin to be able to sufficiently describe. Fighting is what Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring does best though, and he’s since been able to win more than lose in his daily battles with PTSD.

The greatest testament to Herring’s warrior spirit and refusal to give up, was his winning his first World Championship on May 25th of this year.

This special accomplishment was made extra special because it came on what would have been his daughter Ariyanah’s 10th birthday, as well as Memorial Day. Herring dedicated that win to his daughter’s memory and in an true gesture of graciousness, later returned the WBO belt he had just won to his vanquished opponent Masayuki Ito, in his dressing room.

What makes “Semper Fi” an American hero in this writer’s opinion is not the fact that he is a World Champion, but the fact that he was able to defy all odds and every difficulty he’s experienced in life, and still be able to accomplish such a great feat.

As well as his perspective that as a World Champion and someone who has been blessed with a second chance, it is his duty to give back to others who may be fighting the same battles. He does this by graciously and generously sharing his story and time with others every chance he gets.

He even recently traveled to Houston, Texas on his wedding anniversary, to share his story and spend time with military veterans who are also battling PTSD, at The PTSD Foundation of America/ Camp Hope, letting the unsung heroes there know that they also, are not alone!

You can catch Herring on ESPN Plus on November 9th, when he defends his WBO Junior Lightweight Title against Lamont Roach Jr.

WBO Champions Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring and Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez Visit The PTSD Foundation of America/ Camp Hope

PTSD Foundation of America/ Camp Hope, Houston, Texas:

WBO World Junior Lightweight Champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring and WBO/ NABO Light Heavyweight Champion Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez were in Houston, Texas on September 26, 2021 supporting military veterans at The PTSD Foundation of America/Camp Hope.  

Both champions were very generous with their time, signing autographs, speaking to and taking photos with the veterans at Camp Hope, showing appreciation for the men and women that have sacrificed to serve our country.

Both men are also in preparation for upcoming title bouts.

Herring is set to defend his WBO World Junior Lightweight Title against Lamont Roach on November 9 in Fresno, California on a card that will be shown on ESPN Plus.

Lopez is set to defend his WBO/NABO National and NBA and ABO World Titles as well as challenge for the WBC/NABF Light Heavyweight Title against Tommy “Kryptonite” Karpency on November 16th in Conroe, Texas.

The day was also a special one for the U.S.  Marine Corps veteran and 2012 Olympian Herring, as he sacrificed spending time with his wife on their wedding anniversary to attend this event to support his fellow vets that battle PTSD.

In a video interview we did with Herring that was unfortunately cut short due to technical difficulties, Herring expressed the importance of giving back to and sacrificing for others as a part of his job as a world champion and leading by example.  

Special thanks to Jamel Herring and his wife for their service and sacrifice on their special day as well as to Alfonso Lopez III, Chris Stalder, Felix Ramirez, and Ron and Lynn Collins of El Tigre Promotions for helping to make this event possible.

A special thanks also to Hosanna Rull / Combat Sports Media for documenting and covering the event. All photos are courtesy of Hosanna Rull / Combat Sports Media, IRULL Photos.

Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez begins preparations for his November bout with Tommy “Kryptonite” Karpency

Magnolia, Texas : HCP Barbell

It was a busy day at HCP Barbell yesterday as The Pride of Texas, Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez began preparations for his November 16, 2021 bout against Tommy “Kryptonite” Karpency.

Lopez is the ABO, NBA, and WBO/NABO Light-Heavyweight Champion, as well as being ranked 9th by the WBC/NABF and is a former Texas State Light-Heavyweight Champion.
Karpency is ranked 5th by the WBC/NABF and is a former WBA Fedecentro, NABA and Pennsylvania State Light-Heavyweight Champion, as well as holding a notable win over former world champion “Bad” Chad Dawson.

Their bout on November 16, 2021 at The Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe, Texas will surely be a hotly contested battle as Lopez looks to get into the big four, world title picture and Karpency will be fighting to keep his place in world title contention, having previously challenged world champions Adonis Stevenson, Andrzej Fonfara, and Nathan Cleverly.

Also present on at HCP Barbell on yesterday were professional boxers Alicio “Iron” Castaneda and Adam Ealoms, as well as amateur boxers Rafael “Tiger” Medina, Zaaron Pacheco, and Justin Gonzalez, all of whom are also in preparations for upcoming bouts.

Castaneda and Ealoms will be on the Lopez vs Karpency undercard, Zaaron Pacheco and Justin Gonzalez will be fighting at an amateur show in Mercedes, Texas on September 28 and Rafael ” Tiger” Medina is in preparations for his professional debut on a date to be announced soon.

Coach Felix Ramirez was also in attendance on yesterday, working with both amateur and pro boxers, and sharing his vast knowledge in the sport of boxing as well as the business of boxing.

Josue Morales - El Zurdo De Oro

Hometown boxer Josue Morales is a throwback type boxer, who will take on anyone at anytime, no questions asked.

From March 2018 to August 2019, he has fought ten times, and within those ten bouts he has taken on a Golden Boy Promotions prospect, a Premiere Boxing Champions prospect, and two bronze medal champion Olympians. Through all ten of these bouts Josue has never been hurt, knocked down, or stunned, and has represented himself, and Houston, Texas well.

We will be interviewing Josue later in the week to get his perspective on his recent run, as well as a few bad decisions that he’s come out on the wrong end of, including one in a bout that was practically in his hometown, against an Olympian.

For now, we invite you to enjoy several of his recent bouts. Look out for our exclusive interview with El Zurdo de Oro in the next few days.

Next Fight Up: August 23, 2021

Houston, Texas, Friday, August 23, 2019:

Jesse Garcia vs Christian Guido. photo courtesy of IRULL photos

Great show last night with a mix of showcase fights and tough bouts that kept the crowd entertained throughout the night.

Team Tiger Medina
Z-RO and Paul Wall. photo courtesy of IRULL photos

The show also had a distinct “H-Town” spirit to it, with hometown artists Z-Ro and Paul Wall in attendance.

Hernandez vs Bates. photo courtesy of IRULL photos
2020 Olympic hopeful Ginny Fuchs
Rafael “Tiger” Medina and Z-RO

Fight results:

Tristan Kalkreuth, TKO over Aaron John Valentine

Andre August, decision over Christian Solorazo

Luis Briceno Roman, KO over Joshua Freeland

Jesse Garcia, TKO over Christian Danilo Guido

Marcus Bates, decision over Saul Eduardo Hernandez

Raphael Igbokwe, decision over Genc Pilana

Jerrico Walton, decision over Victor Terrazas

Pablo Cruz, decision over William Gonzalez

Cruz vs Gonzalez. photo courtesy of IRULL photo

photo courtesy of IRULL photos

Rafael “Tiger” Medina

  • Lives in: Houston, Texas
  • Weight Class: 154 pounds. Super-Welterweight/ Junior Middleweight
  • Coach: Rafael Medina Sr
  • Club Affiliation: Clutch City Boxing
  • Amateur Record: 120 wins 20 loses

How did you get involved in boxing?

I was a chubby kid and my father began training me in boxing at the age of 7 to get me in shape. The training was a wake up call but at the same time I loved it. At the age of 8, I began boxing as an amateur and as the years go on I find myself falling more and more in love with the art of boxing.

What do you like most about boxing?

I honestly don’t believe there is anything to dislike about boxing. It allows me to improve my health, satisfy my competitive nature, test my limits, and bond with my father all at the same time.

What are your goals inside and outside of the ring?

To become a world champion and live a long, happy life alongside my loved ones.

Pre-fight ritual?

Relax, listen to music and pray, it’s just another day to me at this point.

What is your greatest strength in the ring?

Having 13 years of experience , I find it easy to adjust to awkward and difficult situations.

Who has been your biggest inspiration and why?

My father, because he has always been an amazing, hard working, tough, role model, while still showing that loving side a dad should. Truly everything I strive to be when it comes to being a man.

Did you ever play any other sports?

Not much other than swimming and running, although I do enjoy watching most contact sports.

Career highlights:

  • 2007-2015 Houston Golden Gloves Youth Champion
  • 2011 National Silver Gloves Finalist
  • 2008-2016 HORN Tournament Champion
  • 2008-2016 Games of Texas Boxing Champion
  • 2016 Houston Golden Gloves Senior /Open Division Champion
  • 2016 Texas State Champion
  • 2016 National Golden Gloves Finalist, 2nd place

What motivates you the most?

The dream of providing for my family, while living the dream of being a world champion.

What are 5 things most people don’t know about you?

  • I plan on majoring in philosophy
  • I’ve never been to a party or club
  • I graduated in the top 10% of my high school graduating class
  • I prefer swimming over running
  • I have a boxing gym at home

Hooker and Ramirez go toe to toe, and put on a tremendous show in Texas

Maurice “Mighty Mo’ Hooker and Jose Ramirez engaged in an old school boxing style battle last night in Arlington, Texas, that was appreciated by all who attended and watched on DAZN.

Both champions held nothing back and wasted no time in attempting to take control and establish domination over the other in the first round, throwing hard, sharp punches in combination.

The entire bout was fought at a frenzied pace with Ramirez looking to close the distance and work inside, but also doing good work with his jab and footwork to get inside, while Hooker looked to use his longer reach and keep things on the outside, but still doing good work on the inside.

Both landed solid punches throughout the bout that would have stopped most fighters but both would persevere and continue fighting as if they were in a time warp to the classic bouts of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, giving and taking no quarter.

Ramirez did appear to be getting the better of the exchanges in the 4th, and 5th rounds, but Hooker was still dangerous and the fight was still anyone’s to be had. Finally in the the 6th round, Ramirez was able to land a combination ending with a left hook/cross hybrid that badly stunned Hooker.

Ramirez immediately recognized the condition Hooker was in and wasted no time in jumping on Hooker, pinning him on the ropes and landing hard punches from all angles until the referee stopped the fight.

On the undercard:

Tevin Farmer outclassed Guillaume Frenois over 12 rounds.

Tremaine Williams beat Yenifel Vicente over 10 rounds.

Austin “Ammo” Williams stops Jabrandon Harris

Austin “Ammo” Williams, representing Houston, Texas, stopped Jabrandon Harris with a devastating body punch in the first round, raising his record to 3-0 with 3 KO’s.

Joey Dawejko won a 10 round decision over Rodney Hernandez in a bout that appeared to favor Hernandez, although the scorecards did not reflect that.

Yunior “The Cuban Missle” Calzada Fleitas

And Nikita Ababiy won a 6 round, gift decision over Yunier “The Cuban Missile” Calzada Fleitas, in a bout that the “Cuban Missle” seemed to have won by taking the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 6th rounds on our scorecards.

Although Calzada Fleitas did not get the decision he seemed to have earned, he represented Houston, Texas well, and continued the tradition of his coach and cornerman Howard Mena of bringing game fighters who come to win against all odds, to boxing rings around the world, and on it’s biggest stages.

Hooker vs Ramirez a pick em fight tonight in Arlington, Texas

In a somewhat rare event in recent times, a world championship bout tonight appears to be a 50/50 pick em fight that will be contested between the evenly matched, undefeated, Maurice Hooker of Dallas, Texas and Jose Ramirez of Avenal, California.

The Hooker vs Ramirez main event will be contested over 12 rounds for the WBC and WBO super-lightweight championships and will surely be one you don’t want to miss.

The undercard will also feature some teams and fighters representing Houston, Texas. Yunier Calzada, cornered by Howard Mena and Alex Perez out of Mena’s Boxing Club and Austin “Ammo” Williams cornered by Bobby Benton and Dwight Pratchett, out of The Main Street Boxing Gym, in downtown Houston, Texas, will be proudly representing H-Town tonight!

Lopez wins WBO/NABO title and sets his sights on WBO World Champ Sergey Kovalev

On Saturday July 13, 2019, Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez won the WBO/NABO (World Boxing Organization, North American Boxing Organization) Light Heavyweight Championship and retained his ABO (American Boxing Organization) and NBA (National Boxing Association) titles in Conroe, Texas, by beating Alex Theran by 5th round stoppage.

The main event bout was held at The Lone Star Convention Center and was preceded by nine under-card bouts that featured a mix of local and national and international contestants.

In winning his title and becoming the WBO/NABO Light-Heavyweight Champion, Lopez now represents the WBO as it’s National Champion and he’s placed himself into the top 15 in the WBO world rankings.

This is a major step towards his dream of getting a shot at WBO World Champion Sergey Kovalev, and proves he and his business partners Chris Stalder and Felix Ramirez were serious when they spoke of “kicking down doors” to get to the champion and anyone in the top ten of the WBO world rankings.

Under-card winners were as follows:

Chris McCoy over Dontarius Williams, Antonio Williams over Christian Guido, Juan Velasquez over Anthony Smith, Roger Ibarra over Nathaniel Tadd, Ray Talib over Lucas McDonald, Antonio Wattell over Guillermo Martinez, Adrian Pequeno over Timothy Tyler, Ivan Vasquez over Darrell Johns, and Eros Gallegos over Marcelo Molina for the ABO Super-Middleweight Regional Title.

Fighter Profile - Juan Torres

Professional boxing record: 3 wins 2 loses and 1 draw. Pro MMA record 9 wins and 15 loses. From Houston, Texas (Spring Branch) now residing in Huntsville, Texas.

action photo courtesy of

A bilingual teacher by day and professional MMA fighter and boxer at all other times, as well as a dedicated parent and family man, Juan Torres is a busy man by anyone’s standards.

He was last seen in the professional boxing ring challenging highly touted Top Rank promoted boxer, Peter Kadiru in June of this year. Kadiru was a decorated amateur star, fighting out of Germany, who is currently being groomed to make a big splash on the world heavyweight boxing scene.

Torres, on the other hand is a mostly self-managed fighter who was brought in on short notice, with no amateur boxing background, a full-time job, and was likely brought in as an easy opponent who would allow Kadiru to add to his highlight reel.

Someone forgot to tell Torres this though, as he came into the bout with no fear and a confident presence that said, ” I belong here and I’m here to win”. Torres unfortunately lost a four round decision, but he gave a good account of himself and had the more experienced German star fighting in a uncharacteristically safety first manner, mostly jabbing and moving around the ring to avoid the power and surprisingly similar skill set of Torres.

Torres admitted he hasn’t always came into his fights in the best of shape or made the best business decisions concerning his MMA and boxing careers, but he is quickly learning what it takes to be successful.

He also feels that his dedicated work with Hit City Boxing’s Mike Hamilton and Fearless Boxing’s Ernest Johnson, is helping boost his learning curve tremendously, as he feels he is absorbing the knowledge and experience of these two great coaches, giving him the best chance of success in the professional boxing arena.

When I asked Torres why he hasn’t gone the safe route in boxing or MMA and pad his record with a few easy wins while he learns on the job, and he stated, ” Well first of all I want to challenge myself at all times and face the best competition possible, so that I can build a fighting legacy to be proud of in the future. Secondly but more importantly, I fight to help support my family in the best way possible, and I feel like I would be cheating the public by asking them to pay to watch me beat up a person that poses no threat to me.”

With this admirable outlook and approach to the game, Torres has quickly earned the respect of his fighting peers and he hopes to be able to do big things in the near future, to keep “H-Town” on the map as a fighting city of champions.

Torres is currently looking towards returning to the ring in October on a local card, then back on a Top Rank show in November, so stay tuned and support him and all your local fighters!