Who is Travis Simms?
The last two years have been rough for the undefeated World Boxing Association Super Welterweight Champion in Recess “Tremendous” Travis Simms. It started when Simms, who was granted a voluntary defense against Bronco McKart in his last title fight at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 2, 2004.
He had received that exception to fight, provided he made his mandatory defense against Alejandro “Terra” Garcia, who he had stopped for the title in 2003. Garcia had been named the mandatory but Simms had other plans, and they did not include Garcia.
“We should have been fighting Winky Wright,” recalled Simms. “That was our contention and we stood by our conviction and will now be the mandatory for Jose Rivera. I will win back my title that I feel is still mine.”
Born into a “fighting” family, Travis Simms Jr. and his twin brother Tarvis, were brought into this world on May 1, 1971, in Norwalk, Conn., to Travis and Barbara Simms. Growing up in the large family with five boys and three girls was always interesting and sometimes tough. His father Travis Sr. boxed, too, making the Simms’ boys fifth-generation fighters from a boxing family. Tarvis “Brother of Travis” Simms is an undefeated pro middleweight at 20-0-1.
While attending Norwalk High School, Travis played football, baseball, basketball and even golf, but the family focus was on boxing. He was shown the ropes by his father, amateur coach and mentor, John Harris.
Travis fought in hundreds of amateur matches, compiling an impressive 295-10 record with 10 Western Massachusetts titles, a 1995 National PAL Championship, a 1997 New York Golden Gloves Championship where he was also given the Sugar Ray Robinson Award for Best Boxer in the Tournament. He was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team.
Simms reeled off 22 victories, and even picked up the vacant North American Boxing Association 154-pound title with a victory over Anton Robinson in Louisville, Ky., on Jan. 11, 2002, but it was when he signed with famed promoter Don King that he got his first world title shot.
In fact, it was Simms’ first fight with King on Dec. 13, 2003, in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. when he challenged another undefeated fighter: reigning World Boxing Association super welterweight champion Alejandro “Terra” Garcia (22-0, 21 KOs), from Mexico, as part of King’s historic eight world title fights on a single card.
In the fifth round of the highly competitive bout, while referee Samuel Viruet was separating the fighters from a clinch, Garcia made a rookie mistake and dropped his hands. Simms made the most of this opportunity by quickly drilling Garcia so hard he went down and out.
“I’ve got to thank Don King for giving me the opportunity,” an ebullient Simms said after the fight. “I not only won, I looked very impressive. It was one of the biggest shows in boxing history, and anyone who is anyone in the sport was there. I served notice on the super welterweight division.”
Simms faced another tough challenge in his next match when he faces former World Boxing Organization super welterweight champion Bronco McKart in Madison Square Garden as part of the Trinidad vs. Mayorga card on Oct. 2 .
“I think I boxed brilliantly against McKart,” Simms revealed. “I was on top of the boxing world and looked forward to some exciting matches.”
He’s taken the nickname of “Tremendous” in part because of growing up watching fellow New Englander Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Other boxers he admires are Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr.
“I’ve always loved watching the boxers,” he says. “Although there are times that you have to sit down and fight, and I can do that, too. The art of boxing is hitting without getting hit, and I try to do that as well as anyone in the sport.”
Simms enjoys playing golf, spending time with the family and cooking. His favorite foods are steak and seafood. As is the case with many of the boxers, his favorite movie is Scarface starring Al Pacino. He likes many recording artists, among them Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder and R. Kelly, whose recording World’s Greatest is one of his favorites.
The next two years proved difficult for Simms, who stood by his convictions with the WBA and contended that he shouldn’t have been forced to meet Garcia and that Wright, in fact, should have been forced to fight him.
The negotiations and litigation were long and nobody gained from the process. Jose Antonio Rivera had beaten Alejandro Garcia, who had won the Simms title and made a title defense, and then lost it in an exciting slugfest with Rivera. A lot of time went by, but Simms stuck to his guns.
“I was ready to get back in there and fight,” he said. “There were issues involved and I had already waited a long time, so I decided to stick it out. I didn’t want to start back at the bottom and have to work my way up. After all, I’m undefeated. I’m glad we’ve got it behind us and can look forward to fighting Rivera for what really belongs to me.”
Simms is managed by his wife Sandra Stokes-Simms. They have two children: Brittani and Myah Skye. He is trained by Nirmal Lorick and Byron Ogelsby.
KO Corner News • Welterweight • Jose Antonio Rivera • Travis Simms