In every sport, there are stories of athletes coming from various backgrounds and environments that use those situations as motivation to succeed in their respective sport. Boxing tends to have some of the most compelling stories which is what draws the general public to watch the sport we all love.
Isaiah “Z-Wop” Steen (14-0) is a twenty-three year old fighter from Detroit that was brought up with seven siblings, which is a challenge for any family regardless of their economic status. Although it was a crowded household, Steen did not allow that to interfere with what he wanted to accomplish in life.
Steen is a middleweight prospect whose career is being managed by the powerhouse management company, Split T, and promoted by Dibella Entertainment. The middleweight division has some big names but Steen feels that with time, his name will be right up there amongst the most discussed.
I recently spoke to Isaiah Steen in an effort to introduce him to the boxing public as a prospect to keep an eye on when this pandemic comes to an end and we can resume with our boxing programming.
AG: Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview. What was your childhood like in the Steen Family household?
IS: I grew up with my mother and stepdad which also included four brothers and three sisters. It wasn’t bad having that big of a family, it was just crowded. I was right in the middle in regards to the ages of me and my siblings. I was born in Detroit but when I was about three or four years old, we moved to St Louis. Right around the age of ten, the family moved again to Cleveland.
AG: At what age did you start boxing and how did that come about? Was there a fighter that influenced your decision to take boxing seriously?
IS: My stepfather initially got me into boxing when I was around six or seven years old in St. Louis, with Buddy Shaw. I stopped for awhile and then when I moved to Cleveland, I got back into it. My stepfather was the one that got me back into it when I was twelve after getting my step-brother (Charles Conwell 12-0) back into it. In regards to who I was watching to get me back into boxing, it was Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in the day.
AG: When did you end up turning pro and walk us through the emotions felt before and during that first professional fight?
IS: My amateur record was 78-12 and I turned pro at nineteen. On the night of my debut, I was nervous because this was the first time fighting with no head gear. Through the amateurs and even sparring, I used head gear so I was nervous. Once I stepped in the ring, the nerves went away as there was no turning back at that point. The focus at that point was to execute the things I practiced in training camp.
AG: In looking at BoxRec, I see that you were busy in 2017 with five fights but that number turned into two a year in 2018 and 2019. Was there a particular reason for that? Were their injuries involved?
IS: In the beginning, my team was trying to move me in a steady pace. Then I went to a different camp as the first few fights I was training in my hometown. Once I signed my deal with Dibella Entertainment, I went back to doing my training camps in Toledo, OH at the Soul City Boxing Gym. That gym was where I trained during my amateur career. The opponents were getting harder and the exposure was increasing so we decided to put more time into the training camps which led to only fighting twice a year.
AG: With fourteen fights under your belt, how close do you think you are to fighting for a regional title and how far down the road do you see yourself going before attempting to capture a world title?
IS: I feel that I am really close to getting that regional title shot. Originally, my next fight was going to be my television debut but that was put on hold due to the current pandemic. The plan was to go for a regional title after that debut. When I do go for any type of title, it will be in the middleweight division.
AG: As fighters make their way up, most of the time they have full time jobs outside of boxing to keep them comfortable financially. Do you have a career or job other than boxing?
IS: I have a little temporary job at a warehouse here in Cleveland. When I am in Toledo, I am strictly training but when I am back home, I have this warehouse job. I’m going to start back working until I get another fight date.
AG: With the current situation that we are all in with the social distancing, how are you coping with it and what are you doing at home to stay in shape?
IS: I go out for a run, shadow box around the house, jump rope, jumping jacks and anything you can do while being at home.
AG: Looking back at what you’ve done so far, are you content with where you are in your career and if not, what can you do differently to change that moving forward?
IS: I am only in camp for two months before a fight so if I could train all year round, I would be that much better of a fighter. I would like to get to a point where I can just train all year.
AG: Any last words and where can fans follow you on social media?
IS: I would like to shout out my trainers Uncle Jones, Roshawn Jones and Soul City Boxing Gym. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @__zwop.
In a division that has the potential to open up within the next year or two as most of the champions are moving up to super middleweight, Isaiah Steen is progressing up the ranks at a perfect time.
Once boxing returns, I would recommend keeping an eye out on this young middleweight to see if he gets the opportunity to showcase his talents against a bigger name and under some brighter lights.
You can follow me on Twitter @abeg718 and on Instagram @nyfights.