Outside the Ring: Comanche Boy

By Jill Diamond on July 29, 2014
Outside the Ring: Comanche Boy
I learned to fight because it is in my blood. My tribe loves to fight. My people love to fight.

What motivates someone who continues to try, to hurt, to train, knowing they are mere inches away from their goal but the clock is ticking?

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

We all know how Champions are made. And we all know that many of our athletes come from difficult and impoverished backgrounds. Why else would they take that sometimes lethal walk down the aisle into the ring of broken dreams and jaws? Their need fuels their hunger. Their circumstances drive them. Their hopes allow them to risk it all for an eight-count that catapults them onto the ropes, hurtling a chest-thumping howl of victory into the crowd. But what motivates someone who continues to try, to hurt, to train, knowing they are mere inches away from their goal but the clock is ticking? How do they maintain their determination when they recognize that its luck blocking the door to opportunity? Some say that when people go through hard times they come out one of two ways; a narcissist who wants nothing better for others, or a hero, who tries to shield society from similar suffering. We all know professional victims, excuse makers, open wounds in callous wraps, but we are less apt to meet someone like the man I’m about to introduce you to. He is a champion outside the ring, and someday, if ability meets opportunity, he may conquer both sides of it. Former WBC Continental America’s champion George Tahdooahnippah, known as Comanche Boy, grew up in Oklahoma, where everyone claims to be part Indian, but no one wants to carry the baggage that comes with it. It’s been years since the tragic march that moved tribes away from their homeland into a homeless wilderness, but many still live with the results of this unthinkable journey. George Tahdooahnippah grew up knowing that he’d have to do it all and he’d have to do it better just to be noticed. He accomplished that. He rides his history proudly, sharing his wisdom not just with his people, but with all people. And he hopes that someday, that ringside howl will be a war cry, echoing through time, lifting the spirits of his people.

Did you learn to fight because you had to or wanted to?

I learned to fight because it is in my blood. My tribe loves to fight. My people love to fight. It is in my blood.

What were the issues growing up on tribal land?

I am from Oklahoma and there are no reservations. We have tribal land throughout Oklahoma. All the Oklahoma Indians have to compete with non-native people in everything; whether sports, academics, work. Everything. We HAD TO adapt a lot faster than some other tribes but also lost much of our heritage in the transformation.  Oklahoma was tough. I have heard stories where in eastern parts of state, around Tulsa, of tribe members who were kidnapped in the old days. SOME TRIBES ON THE EASTERN PART OF OKLAHOMA LANDS WERE RICH WITH OIL. I HEARD THE OSAGE HAD OIL. FEW Comanche’s HAD OIL. My great grandfather had oil. The tribes endured heavy times back then. See Oklahoma was dedicated to getting the ‘Indian out’ through government Indian boarding schools and off-tribe breeding. They wanted to make us as American as possible so we’d forget our heritage and live without our cultural. But we survived through the time. Proudly.

Who were your heroes?

My role model was my father. He taught me to be humble. Be generous. Live, laugh, and love to the fullest.

What were your personal obstacles?

I come from a broken home. I grew up with drugs and alcoholism. I battle temptation every day. I have to dream big all the time.

What was it in your background that inspired you to give back?

Not having much made it easy for me to give back. I love to watch other’s happiness.

How did you get involved with children’s fitness and diabetes research?

I was brought to the diabetes program for my tribe by a past tribal leader who wanted to use my boxing to promote health and wellness for Indian people.

What moved you to take this passion out into the world?

Being a Native American athlete, I had no solid Indian athletes to look to for guidance, or as role models. I was a young athlete with no Native American heroes, except the best one ever. A Comanche full blood named Otis Tahdooahnippah… my father.

When you speak, do you address all people or primarily focus on indigenous peoples?

I focus on all people. We are battling health and wellness together.

What is your proudest moment?

My proudest moment would have to be when I became a father. I love all my kids the same but that was the day that changed a wild Indian Boy and his future path.

Your biggest disappointment?

It would be the first and only loss to Delvin Rodriguez on ESPN. In all my visions, I won that fight. Not lost. So that was a nightmare I never had, but actually lived. It created a lot of doubt, but I am still coming.

How do you balance boxing, family and motivational speaking?

Teamwork. My wife. My job. My people. We all make it work together.

Can you share a story?

In my tribe, we have belief in the supernatural. One is the nunnipede. It means little people. They say there are two kinds. The good and the bad. They follow their likes. The good with the good. The bad with the bad. One time my cousin was outside our old church playing. He was the only kid there but when he came in from church he told my grandma he was having so much fun with the other Indian kids outside. My grandma asked who were they and he didn’t know their names but they wore old clothes. My grandma then looked outside and saw four little Indian kids dancing and playing outside under a yard light. She went outside but they left and ran to the creek. They were nunnipedes playing with my cousin. Little people.

Who has given you the support to expand beyond the box?

God….

What are your goals?

Victory on television so I can bring honor to Indian people. Keep on coming.

Is it as satisfying reaching a crowd with words as it is when you’re in the ring?

In the ring is battle. There is a winner and loser. Losing isn’t satisfying. Being a spokesperson is most definitely easier, but winning the battle is what I love.

What would you like people to know about you?

Know that I’m just another poor Indian kid dreaming. Wishing on a star. But that I’m hungry and I’m chasing my dreams and visions. I love my family and my people. This is why I fight. For my people.

What would you like to leave behind?

I want to leave behind that warrior that fought and fought when everyone doubted him. The one who said he was going to win and won. A modern-day warrior like Crazy Horse. Geronimo. Quanah Parker. And now the one they call Comanche Boy.

Outside the Ring: David Berlin
Outside the Ring: Sam Hadfield
Outside the Ring: Steve Farhood
Outside the Ring: Kathy Duva
Outside the Ring: Comanche Boy
Outside the Ring: Margaret Goodman
Outside the Ring: Allen Furst
Outside the Ring: Lonnie and Muhammad Ali
Outside the Ring: Bruce Silverglade

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  1. peter 02:31pm, 07/29/2014

    Again—I like the “out-of-the-box” questions in this article. It’s refreshing.

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 01:48pm, 07/29/2014

    Jill Diamond-Thanks for this excellent interview…..nice to see that he didn’t let Delvin destroy his dream….if it’s any consolation Rodriguez always seemed to be the type of fighter that for whatever reason seemed to try harder against certain fighters i.e. Pawel and Comanche Boy…. add to that he is a very nasty, hurtful puncher…..the fact that Cotto obliterated a deer in the headlights that night has no bearing on George’s progress or situation.

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