Ak is a boxer and boxing journalist/analyst with a show on SiriusXM who lives in Jersey City. I started following him on Instagram a while ago. Even though I’m not a huge boxing connoisseur, I have a huge respect for the sport and it’s one of the only sports I do try to keep up with. Ak is truly inspirational, as he took something he’s passionate about and created a platform around it. He’s living a dream.
Watch or read the interview below!
What’s your name?
Akin, but I’m known as Ak.
What do you do?
I’m an on-air talent for Sirius XM and I host a visual show on 50 Cent’s platform, thisis50.com. I pretty much cover boxing. I’m a boxing journalist/analyst.
So let’s start from the beginning – how did you get into it?
I was a boxer my entire youth, since I was about 5. I boxed in local regional tournaments and national tournaments. I won national tournaments. My brother went on to be a well-known professional boxer that was signed to Don King, so I pretty much been around the sport my entire life. There’s a period of time where I was about 15, 16 and I stopped boxing. I was interested in other things, and I even did some modeling, a lot of print work, some acting, and then kind of fell into the family business. My father did upholstery refinishing, so I got into restoring furniture. I gained a lot of weight, so I couldn’t do no more print work. I was getting a little fat and I needed money, so I got into the family business like repairing and restoring furniture. Then about 7 years ago, I got an opportunity to host on a small Internet radio hip hop station. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to host a hip hop show since I’ve always been good with words, so I said sure. I grabbed one of my closest friends Hitchcock, who’s actually artist from Jersey City of a rap artist formerly from a group called The A Team, and we started doing a hip hop show. I noticed every show, I would talk about boxing and I started catering the show to boxing. It came naturally because I still had passion for the sport even though I wasn’t fighting. It kind of turned into something where one day, we did a live broadcast in Newark and we interviewed Zab Judah from Brooklyn, who I’ve known since we were younger. Then the next day, around 20 boxing websites with these young cool journalist interviewed Zab Judah. Normally, you don’t see that in the boxing world. Journalists in their 50s can’t really relate to the culture, they’re not tapped into millennials or anything. It was something different and that’s pretty much where it began. It grew legs and I said to myself, “Maybe we should do this more often.”
Tell me about your day-to-day life.
I host on Sirius XM, which is a national radio platform, so a lot of interviews are based on when fighters are in town so there’s no set schedule. We do a lot of shows on Mondays and Fridays on the show called At the Fights. Me and my co-host Barak Bess, they call him the Boxing Bully. I’m the lead host, he’s my co-host. Then on 50 Cent’s platform thisis50.com, that’s catered to a hip hop audience, but they know boxing somewhat because we’ve been there for about 6 months and it’s doing good numbers. It was a new thing for ThisIs50. We’re covering just boxing, it’s not even all sports. We do try to get the young fighters that people know on that platform. My day-to-day has no set schedule.
I’m working on a boxing inspired clothing line with Hitch, which is going to be really big. We plan on launching this fall, so that’s been taking a lot of my time with a friends of mine Moose and Mike, who helped create it. It’s busy, but I don’t complain. I’m not one to complain, it’s a blessing.
How long have you been in Jersey City?
For about 10 years. My son’s mother is from here, that’s how I ended up here, so it’s my second home. I still claim Brooklyn as home, but it’s my second home.
Do you have a favorite Jersey City hangout spot?
I just started going to Miss Wong’s. Honestly when I’m home, I try to spend a lot of time with my son because I travel so much to cover fights all over the country and I go to Vegas a lot, so while I’m working, I do my partying. When I’m home, I try to take advantage and I’m like a homebody. I got to downtown Jersey City every now and then.
How do you feel boxing has evolved over the last 20 years?
Boxing used to be big 20 years ago, so I wouldn’t say it’s evolved. It’s not bigger now, but with social media and all these ways for people to see the fighters, it helps the fighters. Fighters that normally people wouldn’t know who they are but might be really talented back in the day, you wouldn’t know who they were until they fought the big fight. Now, more people know the guys that are up and coming.
Do you still box?
AK: To train, yes for sure.
Do you do it in Jersey City?
I do, I do it at Ringside. Mario Costa is a good friend of mine, who was actually one of Mike Tyson’s best friends. I have the keys to the gym, so I go take my son to train and I go train there as I wish.
I need to go there.
AK: It’s a great place. You never been there?
No, I’ve actually never been to Ringside.
The food is excellent. You definitely need to try the chicken and garlic sauce, and shrimp and garlic sauce. The gym is like next door to the bar, so that’s where I go and get my workout on, try to stay fit.
Have you seen Mike Tyson there?
Mike Tyson, I’ve interviewed him at Sirius XM. I’ve interviewed pretty much everybody but surprisingly enough, I never ran into Mike there.
Who is your favorite fighter?
Of all time? That’s a tough question, but I can give you my top three.
I would say Pernell Whitaker.
I have to choose Muhammad Ali not only because of his ring skills, but so much more.
Floyd Mayweather would be my third, but boxing is so nostalgic and it’s so old, there are so many great fighters. Like Sugar Ray Robinson, I could replace him and Floyd. He’s in my top three too, so those are the guys that I look up to the most.
Favorite boxing movie?
I mean, I can’t go against Rocky 4. I like all the Rockies, but 4 is my favorite for sure.
What about Raging Bull?
That was an excellent movie, as well. It is a classic and that was about Jake Lamotta.
See, that’s how I know about boxing, through that film.
Yeah, that was a great movie. I forgot about that.
How do you feel social media plays a role in sports in general?
It’s great. I mean, it can hurt some athletes as well because bad things get out there so quickly, but you can use the tool and it can propel your career so quickly.
Has it helped you?
Oh yeah, indeed. It has. In boxing, you have your hardcore boxing fans that they’re going to watch every fight, going to follow every boxing personality on Instagram, and then you have your casual fans who just watch the big fights. The boxing fans, they want to be indulged in the sport so much that even when there’s not a fight, they use social media to stay engaged on what’s going on. Those are the people that follow me, comment, or DM me, and watch your videos. That keeps us relevant as journalists when there is no fight going on.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Everything about it. I love obviously covering the fight, that’s a perk that you get. You get to go to every fight for free and sit ringside. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? Talking to these fighters you actually enjoy watching in the ring, and then realizing they know who you are, respect you, and now we’re to the point that most of these fighters stop and talk to us since their publishers and promotional teams are reaching out to us. Just getting those emails is fun. To know that I’m respected in the sport is a great deal, so I appreciate it.
Is there something you don’t like about it?
I don’t like the promoters. There are still a certain amount of promoters in the sport that take advantage of fighters. That still happens. Everybody knows about the Don King era and how he robbed fighters of money. There are still promoters out there to do the same. They’re still underpaying fighters. I don’t like that part of it because it’s a dangerous sport and the fighters risk their lives, but for the most part I can’t say I don’t like too much about it. Overall, I’m pleased with the sport. I think it should be exposed more on networks. Sports Network should cover the sport.
It seems like they only focus on the big fights.
Right. That’s what I don’t like about it, but that’s just media in general. They don’t cover the sport as much as they should, for sure.
Do you find that some people are against the sport, saying the sport is violent? What do you say to people who criticize?
I would say football and the NFL is worse and there’s more deaths, more injuries more concussions in football than boxing.
And I think boxing, I think you’re letting it out in the ring, it’s in a controlled environment is for a sport. You learn how to protect yourself.
And its’ a sport that can change a young man’s life.
It teaches you discipline.
Absolutely. I feel like fighters tend to come from rough communities and it changes them and it also can put you in a position where you can make some money and change your families lives and your position. Other sports, they aren’t like that. Basketball, football, those sports you have to be great and elite at every single level from Pee-wee’s to high school. You have to be one of the best players in the nation, in college on the best place, to maybe get drafted. In boxing, one punch can change your life. I like that aspect of it.
Have you ever heard of the non-profit organization Golden Gloves in Jersey City? They teach kids boxing and his kids were boxing there’s you know
I didn’t know Jersey City had Golden Gloves, that’s cool. They definitely have my support, for sure.
So, do you feel like your living your dream?
I do. I feel like I have so much more to accomplish, but considering me not going to broadcasting school, not going to school for journalism, and people that have studied this craft and have reached the level I’m on, I would say I’m living not only my dreams but dreams of other people who have these aspirations. I won’t undermine it, I’d probably say that I am.
What advice would you give to people or youth who are passionate about something and they want to do what they love?
I mean, it’s hard not to give a generic, cliché answer to that, but just don’t let anybody discourage you and what you want to do, regardless of your situation and financial status. It’s just hard work, whatever you’re involved in. I have to talk, I do public speaking, and I didn’t go to school for it. I read books, I read about the craft. You have to educate yourself in anything that you’re doing.
Have that tunnel vision, as they say.
I think every single person that we have interviewed has said that you have to work hard.
Sometimes, you have to be more than one person.
You have to do everything you have to do to make it happen, and not to give up.
In this industry, if you don’t have representation, people don’t respect you really. In my early stages, I had to create different email accounts and pose as Ak’s Manager. Then I would get responses. I had to play two or three roles to the point where I finally was respected and was granted a media credential to get a press conference to a fight. You have to wear a lot of hats in the beginning.
What’s next for you?
Well, next is the Thomas and Reyes clothing line. It’s a boxing-inspired clothing line, but really fashionable. It’s something anybody can wear, but there will be nostalgic boxing quotes on it and super dope designs by me, Hitch, Mustafa, and Mike. So that’s actually my focus right now. My business partner just had a meeting at Revolt TV, so there is a possibility that our show could be televised on Revolt, like The Breakfast Club, because they want to focus on sports. I want to do some TV, call some big fights, and I have a good relationship with Showtime so that might happen. I’ll be doing some Showtime TV stuff.
That’s awesome. Big things.
Big things happening. I definitely want to crush this garment industry. I think we’re going to do well because we are targeting a certain audience. It’s a niche market, so I’m excited about the clothing line.
Awesome, thank you so much!
You’re very welcome. It was nice talking to you!