DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — At Hype Athletics in Dearborn Heights, a new breed of boxers are being built. One of them is 15-year-old Hadi Al-Mashhadi. With over 30 fights and ten national titles under his belt, Hadi is now ranked number one in boxing's junior division across the country.
"We are deciding on turning professional by 18. When I probably hit 23, we should have a title fight by then. There are not a lot of Arab boxers that do this. And I want to show other Arabs, like me that you can do this too, just to support our country," said Hadi.
The 10th grader from Taylor, Michigan, trains every day after school for two hours. One of his coaches is his dad, Hamed Al-Mashhadi.
"Hadi is definitely natural, but he's also put all the hard work behind it. It doesn't matter who he is fighting. He is going to find a way to break that fighter down," said Hamed.
When asked if Hamed is living his dreams through Hadi's eyes, Hamed said "Yes!"
Hamed was 6 years old when his family moved to the US from Iraq. At the time, Hamed was into boxing and would have pursued the sport professionally, but instead being the elder brother of six siblings, he became a mechanic.
"Especially in our culture, the oldest has to step up and take care of the family. Help my father, so that way there is no pressure on him," said Hamed.
"What does boxing mean to you?" asked 7 Action News.
"It's my passion. Just imagining being on the big stage, I love it to the point that I cry," said Hamed.
The 36-year-old also coaches boxing for other youth. And Hadi is his biggest prodigy.
"I really just want to win a title and retire my parents so they never work again," said Hadi.
After winning the last title, the orthodox turned southpaw boxer is now pre-qualified to train as part of Team USA.
"What's the one thing you learned from your dad?" asked 7 Action News.
"Stay dedicated, and he showed me that it's possible," said Hadi.
Hadi's next big mission is to fight under the Team USA banner and represent the USA internationally. In the meantime, Hamed is happy to coach anyone looking to learn the art of boxing.
To learn more, head to www.hypeathletics.org/boxing.