Father Knows Best: Eugene and Jesse Hart

By Norman Marcus on April 3, 2015
Father Knows Best: Eugene and Jesse Hart
“Straight jabs! Power... Turn the body with the hook. Shorten it up so he don’t see it.”

He was not called The Cyclone for nothing. Hart always came at his opponent with tremendous ferocity…

“Everybody has a plan until I hit ‘em in the face.”—Mike Tyson

A hard hitting middleweight who fought from 1969 to 1982, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart was a product of the Philly factory. At one time he was rated number three in the world. While he never fought for the title, he met some pretty tough cookies in his day.

Famed trainer Cus D’Amato worked with him. Cus said, “You got to be smart, you got to be clever and not get hit, and when you are able to do this you’re a fighter.” But even the guru of Floyd Patterson, Mike Tyson and Jose Torres, couldn’t get Eugene Hart to the title. Let’s take a look at some of the big fights that The Cyclone had in the 1970s.

On August 26, 1974, Hart fought future light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. He lost the fight in a KO4.

He met Philly legend Bennie Briscoe in November of 1975 and fought him to a 10-round draw. In August of the same year he beat Olympic champion Sugar Ray Seales in a UD10.

On September 16, 1976, he lost to future middleweight champion Marvin Hagler in a TKO9

Hart also met another future middleweight champion, Vito Antuofermo on March 11, 1977. Again he was knocked out, this time in a KO5.

He was not called The Cyclone for nothing. Hart always came at his opponent with tremendous ferocity. Some of his punches, especially his left hook, could literally lift an opponent off his feet. What he lacked in technique, he made up for in courage. The Cyclone was the perfect alias for him. The Boxing Record shows Eugene Hart with a final record of 30-9-1 (28 KOs).

Commenting on his times Hart said, “When I came up I came up with all   warriors, guys like George Benton, Briscoe, Hayward, Muhammad, Gypsy Joe Harris. Leotis Martin helped me out a lot. Leotis Martin was a great fighter. I remember how they ducked him. Frazier ducked him. I talked a lot to Harold Johnson. Harold could teach a rock how to box.”

Eugene now trains his son Jesse Hart, who is a super middleweight. The younger Hart was a Golden Gloves Champion. He has a pro record of 16-0 with 13 KOs. He is in his prime at twenty-five years old.

Recently Jesse Hart was signed by Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions. He was thrilled to find out that he was a late addition to the undercard of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight on May 2, 2015, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. His opponent will be Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez, a twenty-seven-year-old iron worker from Chicago. Jimenez also boasts an impressive record of 17-0 (11KOs). These two undefeated middleweights both have the knockout power to put on a great show. (The Hart vs. Jimenez bout is subject to change and commission approval.)

Arum personally picked Hart because he liked his guaranteed fan appeal. Jesse will be fighting for the vacant USBA and NABO Regional Super Middleweight Titles. It will be his first professional 10-round bout. If the young Hart continues to win, it could open up his chances for a super middleweight title down the road. This run may be his father’s last chance at a championship with the name Hart on it, a title which has eluded him for over four decades.

Jesse Hart trains out of the Joe Hand Gym in Northern Liberties, a newly gentrified neighborhood in North Philadelphia. Joe Hand was a Philly cop who bought into Cloverlay, a small group of fight fans that backed a young Philly fighter named Joe Frazier back in the early 1970s. Hand then got into the TV distribution business for pay-per-view. He marketed boxing in sports bars, casinos and restaurants.

In 1995 he opened the boxing gym. It caters to pro and amateur boxers of all types. Respected trainers can be found there too. For example Naazim Richardson, the trainer of greats like Bernard Hopkins, Sugar Shane Mosley and Steve Cunningham, hangs out there. He’s available to train any young man or woman to handle themselves in the ring. As we all remember, Richardson became famous for catching Antonio Margarito in 2009 packing loaded gloves, before his fight with Shane Mosley, for the WBA super middleweight title. As a result, Margarito and his trainer were banned from boxing for a year.

Walking into the gym you can hear the older Hart council his son, “Straight jabs! Power… Turn the body with the hook. Shorten it up so he don’t see it. Bang! Bang! Bang!” Jesse Hart is a boxer who happens to have knockout power in both hands. Eugene Hart was mainly, as he says, a banger.

So what’s it better to be, a boxer with a plan or a banger? Iron Mike Tyson was asked that question years ago. He said, “Everybody has a plan until I hit ‘em in the face!” Jack Dempsey explained his ring style, “All the time he’s boxing, he’s thinking. All the time he’s thinking, I’m hitting him.” You could go ask the Cuban boxers, who are so technically perfect in the ring that they are too boring to watch.

The days of Teofilo Stevenson’s devastating jab and powerful right hand are dead. The excitement died with the Cuban boxer himself.

The best combination of course is a boxer who can also hit with power, a boxer-puncher. They are not easy to find these days. A few names come to my mind from way back when: Jim Corbett, Gene Tunney, Joe Louis…

Now Jesse Hart has 13 KOs in 16 fights. Mike Jimenez has almost the same. According to Jesse Hart, “It’s all about making adjustments, subtle adjustments” to win any fight. The ability to improvise is key. Both these men seem to be boxer-punchers. Should make for an interesting fight.

So on May 2nd we’ll see if this story is headed for another Hollywood ending. What do we have here? A young fighter, pulls himself up, off the gritty streets of Philadelphia. In the shadows of the Frankford Elevated, he runs five miles every morning. He works with his trainer, a former middleweight contender, who has a lifetime of knowledge to share with him. Now throw in an adoring wife and baby. Hmm… All that’s missing is a bullmastiff named Butkus!

Sources: The Boxing Record, Encyclopedia Britannica, The Philadelphia Daily News Sports/Sunday, 3/15/15/, Top Rank Promotions, Philly Boxing History

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  1. Kid Blast 06:49am, 04/04/2015

    Mike Jimenez has as much business being on the undercard as Shannon Briggs. His record is deceptive because he got the crap kicked out of him by Findley but the fight was declared a NC because Findlay was using. Hart will win. This is just another example of how we the fans are getting ripped off.

  2. Eric 05:17am, 04/04/2015

    I remember hearing Leotis Martin claiming he wanted a bout with Frazier after he kayoed Sonny Liston. I can’t see why Frazier would duck Martin, or how Leotis would have been able to beat a prime Joe Frazier. Seems like I’m always hearing how Frazier was ducking someone, first it was an old Liston, then Ron Lyle & Earnie Shavers, and now Martin. I can’t see a l967-1969 version of Liston beating Frazier, a prime Liston would beat Joe, but not the old, creaky, version. Lyle, Shavers, or Martin? Lyle and Shavers didn’t really start making noise in the division until Joe was winding down as champion, so neither one were deserving of a title shot at that point. I can’t see Martin giving Frazier any trouble at all.

  3. Magoon 07:43pm, 04/03/2015

    “Offer not valid in Nevada or West Virginia.” Or in this case “The Hart vs. Jimenez bout is subject to change and commission approval.” Disclaimers make me laugh. I don’t know why.