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By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Keith Huffman

TUSCALOOSA — Known for its football addiction, the city of Tuscaloosa has increasingly attracted boxing enthusiasts following Deontay Wilder’s rise as the WBC Heavyweight Champion in 2015.

But long before Wilder began entering the ring, there was local boxing legend Mike Hutchinson, now 57, known as “The Tuscaloosa Kid.”

An admirer of Muhammad Ali, Hutchinson shares many aspects with the late boxer who mastered “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Both received guidance from the late famed boxing trainer Angelo Dundee while exhibiting their fierce talents against tough contenders. Both also pursued boxing starting at a young age.

Recalling how his father, Charlie, trained then-amateur boxer Edgar “Mad Dog” Ross in a backyard ring in 1971, Hutchinson said he began training under his father that same year when he was 12.

Hutchinson acquired his unique title during the late 1970s after meeting former heavyweight professional boxer Jody Ballard. According to Hutchinson, Ballard could only remember Hutchinson as a kid from Tuscaloosa, rather than by his name.

Also during the late 1970s, Hutchinson built his own gym behind his childhood home on 40th Street off Greensboro Avenue. He named it after his father, who boxed while he was in the U.S. Army during the late 1940s. The late Charles Hutchinson also worked his son’s corner while Hutchinson fought professionally during the 1980s.

His professional record of 23-3 was fought within the welterweight division (140 to 147 pounds). He retired in 1986 over concerns about his eye, but emerged victorious from the ring one final time during a comeback match in 1998.

“It seemed like everything happened just yesterday,” he said. “I can remember when I was 12 years old, getting started. And I remember when I – fighting in the Golden Gloves in the Southern and turning pro. You know. I think about those times a lot.”

Something else Hutchinson shares with the late Ali is they both watched as one of their children entered the ring, too. For Ali, it was his daughter, Laila. For Hutchinson, it was his son, Hoyt.

“You know, it was pretty cool growing up with a dad for a boxer and giving us the opportunity to do it and experience,” said Hoyt, 29. “Because there’s nothing – there’s no better feeling than being in a ring, with all eyes on you, in a one-on-one sport and having the referee raise your hand.”

Categories: Local News, Sports