Fighter Yates hangs up gloves for new venture

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For Frederick Yates, Dec. 12 was a very good day — yet a sad one. It was his third professional fight, and he won by knockout in the first round against opponent Nigel Farmer. But it was also his last boxing match.

Being around the gym and learning boxing was a great coping skill for Yates when he was medically retired from the Army for depression and PTSD.

“I don’t plan on fighting again, and I know my body is hoping I keep my word on that. I know I said the same thing after my first and second fight, but I am 37, I can’t sleep on my left side, have a black eye, and bloody noise most days practicing with the fighters at Robison Neal Boxing Academy in Columbia — some of the most skilled fighters in the world, namely Deandre Neal who is 20-0 and Jaylon Pridgeon,” said Yates.

“I believe these guys are future world champions and training beside them and picking their brains for knowledge is one of the reasons I believe I was able to come back to boxing at my age after 13 years of service and win three fights,” Yates said. “But I care for those guys’ well-being more than my own, and hopefully, I can be some kind of inspiration to them to continue to follow their dreams.”

Yates believes that when he was their age, he had talent but lacked hard work and discipline.  Now at 37 it’s the opposite; he works hard but is not as skilled as he used to be. So, it’s time to hang up the gloves.

But he appreciates the people who helped him along. Gym owner Neal is in the S.C. boxer hall of fame and ex-Ranger in the Army, so he has many ways to motivate and get his point across. For boxers who get out of hand, he will glove up and go a few rounds with them. The head coach and teacher Dominic Robison was one of Yates’ motivators. The strength and conditions coach is Stanley Young, who prepares the athletes’ bodies for the fight and who was a listening ear for Yates. “I was most comfortable with telling him how I was feeling throughout training, whether it was about sparring or if my body needed a day off. I treat time with Robison as if I were still in the military and he was my first line supervisor and coach. I had a healthy respect and fear which worked for me and kept me disciplined throughout training.”

As for Yates’ goal in boxing, he asked God to allow him to have one professional fight; he had three and is good with that.

Yates’ goal is to open a gym in Walterboro. “We have been looking for a location that will work because I believe it will be beneficial to the youth there; there is so much talent in the city,” said Yates. “I have received a lot of messages about it and that’s my focus. My son, Ziyear, is now competing and would have had a few fights if it wasn’t for Covid. I am trying to convince my daughter, Laila, who I named after Laila Ali, to try boxing, but she isn’t going for it,” Yates said.

“I want to thank my sister Tiffany Yates-Farmer for her help throughout this process as she sold tickets, promoted me or did whatever she could to make things less stressful for me. Boxing works by how many fans you can put in the seats, so the bigger your following, the more you get paid. I think she was able to sell almost 65 tickets for me by herself.  If they called me for a fight in Mexico, I knew that if no one else would be there, Tiffany would. And I can’t thank her enough for that… even if she’s our father’s favorite and the rest of us don’t like it,” laughed Yates.

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