Through perseverance, character and generosity, Gary Russell Jr. is the DMV’s Champion.
Gary Russell Jr. grew up in an area that isn’t known for breeding success, Capitol Heights, Maryland. Rather than involving himself in activities detrimental to his well-being, Russell would spend time in the basement, pounding the heavy bag. Led by his father Gary Russell Sr., Russell would spend countless hours training in the basement of his Capitol Heights home. “Not having to have the high-tech equipment to be successful, instilled work ethic, memory of hitting the heavy bag in the basement driving mother crazy” said Russell. Talk about building character, that’s what it means to be dubbed the “First Boxing Family of Maryland”. Russell stated, “it’s all about playing it full, it speaks volumes that his family is viewed that way by their peers”.
Russell made it his mission to show youth in the DMV that you don’t have to be a product of the environment, but forge your own path. Through his Team Russell Foundation, Russell is bringing boxing back into the area by just having fun. Russell knows that community activism is key to giving back, and the impact that his parents had on his life assisted him with his dreams. “My mother and father scraping up cash for boxing uniforms to gain experience in boxing, propelled us to where we are now” Russell explained.
In 2016, Team Russell was created. Like AAU basketball, youth boxers 8 to 16 years of age compete to represent their community in national boxing tournaments. Russell puts them through four days of excruciating training to bring out their highest competitive spirit. In speaking about his efforts Russell said fervidly “we need the youth to understand that you can do anything you put your mind too through consistent, being in constant motion, instilling that concept. Anyone we meet, we play a significant role in their life. We want to build a dynasty, that includes passing valuable information down generation to generation.”
Russell focuses on children in areas like Capitol Heights because they’re not foreign to adversity, and neither is he. After several hand injuries and conditioning issues, Russell has persevered against the odds. Most notably, with the defense of his WBC Featherweight Championship against Oscar Escandon scheduled for May 20 at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Originally, the homecoming for Russell was to be in March, but was postponed due to a back injury to Escandon. With Russell fight in his hometown for the first time, he was excited not just for the fight, but for the community. “The MGM has opened many doors of entertainment in the DMV, so this fight is meaningful for me and my family. The fight being pushed back isn’t a big deal, injuries happen and it wasn’t in his control. So now we’re just ready and time to roll” said Russell.
As he’s known for his boxing prowess, Russell wants to be remembered for instilling morals and integrity into the youth. Russell simply put “I people to know Gary Russell the man, not the fighter”. He wants to provide an umbrella of security over his family with his career choices. From the boy in Capitol Heights to being the main event at MGM, Gary Russell Jr represents and uplifts the DMV like a real champion should.