Oakland’s Andre Ward, America’s finest boxer, is at home out of the spotlight

Nellie Bowles: The best prizefighter in the US perhaps the world is a church-going family man from Oakland who believes in the righteous track to stardom

Andre Ward, the undefeated star boxer lastly returning to the ring on Saturday night, is a Bay Area kid and it shows.

It reveals in the tight-knit elite sporting parish hes fostered in his hometown: recently retired Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is a close friend, and the Warriors Stephen Curry carried Wards championship belt out for his fight with Paul Smith last year.

It evidences in what he speaks of: Can you believe how expensive organic groceries are these days? the long-time super middleweight endorse questions.

And, he says, it presents in the chip on his shoulder as he faces off the Cuban fighter Sullivan Barrera on Saturday at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, knocking off Districts path toward a brand-new entitlement: the light heavyweight championship.

We call it the Oakland treatment. Circumstances here dont get their due. But it precisely builds grit, he tells the Guardian over pasta and steak in his hotel area the darknes before the fight. Now theres the Stephs, the Trayvons, the Clays. And its crazy induce we knew this was in Oakland we always knew but it exactly took the rest of the world some time.

Stephen
Stephen Curry carried Wards title belt out to the ring ahead of its recent push last year. Picture: Jeff Chiu/ AP

Ward, the last American guy to win a golden medallion at the Olympics back in 2004, had now been had a Hall of Fame pro busines at super middleweight, supporting the 168 lb title from 2009 until quitting it last year to strike out at brand-new sand. Most pundits rated him no worse than No2 on the pound-for-pound standings behind Floyd Mayweather for a few years, but hes fought only four times since 2012 due to a long-running promotional spat and more recently a training injury, so hes passed from the public consciousness to a certain extent.

The biggest combat out there for the 32 -year-old is a showdown with the 175 lb champ Sergey Kovalev, a knockout machine who is considered by numerous the most feared boxer in the boast. Theyve agreed to meet in the fall in principle in what would be one of 2016 s highest chart and most expected pushes rendered they get through their respective tune-up bouts in the spring. Thats what this fight with Barrera is for Ward. And he is an overwhelming favorite.

Unlike Mayweathers self-styled pantomime rascal, Ward is a real-life good guy a church-going family man who takes its own position as a role model gravely and never says anything distasteful( his nickname is SOG or Son of God) which doesnt exchange and in part explains why hes not become a crossover whiz.

In my athletic they literally tell you you have to act naive, act like a buffoon if you want to make it. You cant merely have a weigh-in, you have to throw a chair at someone, he said. They literally tell us that. If Im the bad guy because Im not the person they want me to be, then so be it.

Over the last year he resolved his promotional woes in tribunal and had now been signed with Jay Zs Roc Nation Sports along with Miguel Cotto the nascent boasts agency highest-profile signing in boxing.

During all that, part of me wanted to stay away, required good-for-nothing to do with the play again, he said. But you cant conceal. You have to face this kind of substance. So I did.

But the time off made him have a little enjoyable. Ward and wife got a 45 ft RV and took their four boys, labradoodle and King Charles spaniel on road trips.

We drive it up the Pacific Northwest, stay in some of those beautiful RV parks along the way, Ward said. We cook, we raise the bikes and the dogs.

Now, gearing himself back up to fight, he says hes not enraged about the hiatus. Its only another chapter in my journal. I dont look at it like its this terrible occasion. Its all part of the totality of a career.

The night before the fight, Ward is wearing sweats and sitting on the sofa in his hotel area. Hes muscular and charismatic, with an easy, broad-spectrum smile. Its easy to be acknowledged that hed take to Tv. Hes been noting for HBO lately, and this fight with Barrera will be the main event on the networks flagship World Championship Boxing series. He also had a role in Creed, the critically acclaimed boxing movie, for which he was banked immediately by the head, fellow Oakland aborigine Ryan Coogler.

I loved it, and I want to do more, Ward said. Ryan went out of his practice to get into the culture. Hed transport me writes and Id send back edits. Hes like, look its PG-1 3, Andre is simply have a certain sum of cuss words.

When he was nine years old, Ward went to work out with “his fathers”. At the gym, Ward encountered his coach-and-four Virgil Hunter. When as a teen Wards father died, Hunter grew both coach and godfather and still improves him today. Districts engaged a disproportionately high number of his crusades in Oakland, rare for a fighter of his stature in a sport where the most difficult crusades happen in Las Vegas. Ive had people tell me this is a small market here, Ward says. That Ive gotta move to New York or LA or Vegas, but its just not in me.

You get that health chipping on your shoulder out here. Its good as they were ever going to be people questioning you in this game, Ward says. Theres always going to be some guy behind behind a laptop saying, What about this? So for me its never about substantiating got anything to reviewers but proving that my supporters were right.

Ward gets back to eating. Hes ever telling me to ingest less meat, he says, gesticulating to a pal sitting in all the regions of the room.

His friend is Bryant Jennings, a 227 lb vegan campaigning to be heavyweight champion.

Well, Im not perfect, I devour an egg, Jennings says. When was it, maybe two summers ago?

Ward says he was a vegetarian until he started trained for the fight.

Its a lifestyle thought. I want to be around a very long time for my girls, fill my grandbabies, Ward says. Theres a knot of nonsense in our meat. A knot of crap.

Jennings concurs before the two launch into a conversation about organic produce.

Its crazy we have to pay more precisely to get nutrient in its original position, Ward says as he ambles me out.

Hes never been the different types to tribunal mainstream stardom, preferring instead to give his rendition speak for itself. But if all disappears according to plan in 2016, Ward wont be able to avoid it much longer.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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