NYFIGHTS PROSPECT WATCH: Ireland’s Tommy Hyde
I remember the kid when he truly was that, a kid. You could tell, back in 2015 or so, that Tommy Hyde and his father Gary Hyde had a good relationship, and that the boy felt happy as a pig in muck following his pop around while dad managed pro fighters of note, and traveled to lands near and far to ply the trade. Years passed, and the kid kept growing, to where he has an inch or two on dad, and to where HE is the practitioner who dad “handles,” as manager of record.
NYFights checked in with Tommy Hyde, age 23, a 6-4 light heavyweight who holds a 2-0 record as a professional, and also dad Gary, to get more insight on what it's like for the current fighting pride of Cork, Ireland, and his ultra proud pop:
Q: Please give fans the lowdown on your backstory: tell us about your upbringing. Where were you born, parents, siblings, lifestyle, all that.
Son Tommy Hyde: I was born in Cork, Ireland, I have three sisters and I’m the second oldest in my family. I had a great upbringing, my mam and dad always did their best for us and gave us great opportunities.
Q: When did boxing come on your radar? And for those that don’t know, your dad has a few decades in the game, mostly managing… did he encourage or discourage your interest in being a fighter?
Son Tommy Hyde: Boxing has been in my family for decades, I was named after my great grand uncle Tommy Hyde, who was the national senior champion of Ireland in 1946. My dad and my grandad boxed so I suppose I was always going to be interested in it. I started going to professional boxing shows around Ireland with my dad in 2006 and I just got hooked on the atmosphere and buzz around the fights so that’s around the time I started training. My dad brought me to Sunnyside Boxing Club which is the same club my great grand uncle boxed with and I trained there for a few years until I was allowed to box in Ireland at 11 years old. During those four years my dad became a manager of some Cuban fighters, the most known would be Guillermo Rigondeaux. He brought me everywhere he went so I got to go to some big fights as a kid and meet some of the best fighters in the world. I went to the majority of Rigo’s fights and that definitely made me love boxing more, I was there the night he beat Nonito Donaire in New York when no one really gave him a chance. I went to Japan and China for Rigondeaux fights, places I don’t think I’d ever have went if it wasn’t for boxing. I was and still am fanatical on boxing, always watching it on YouTube and looking on Boxrec telling my dad to sign different fighters even when I was about thirteen years old.
Q: Dad, can you tell readers who may be unaware about you, your history within the sport, including how when and where YOU got involved in boxing.
Father Gary Hyde: I’ve been involved in boxing since 1978 when I joined a local amateur club at the age of 10. I had roughly 80 amateur contest but wasn’t all that good. I was three time national runner up. In 2007 I promoted my first pro show in Cork which featured some excellent Irish talent. I wanted to manage world champions so I decided to go to Cuba and sign some of the best amateurs in the world such as two time Olympic champion Rigondeaux, world junior champions Mike Perez, Luis Garcia and Alexey Acosta. I have managed a couple of dozen other fighters from all over the world and I currently manage Tokyo Olympian Rohan Polanco and of course my son Tommy Hyde. Tommy has been right by my side throughout all the above. He is as (clever) as a fox and has been advising me since he’s a child. He has been at many great shows all over the world and knows the game inside out.
Q: Gary, did you (do you?) have reservations about his participation?
Father Gary: Tommy has wanted to go pro and win world titles his whole life. He has had 100 fights and it doesn’t matter if he’s boxing his first amateur contest or for a world medal, I am a nervous wreck before the contest every time wishing I had encouraged him to continue playing Rugby where he had the backing of a full team instead of getting inside those ropes alone. I knew the time would come when Tommy would ditch the vest and fight in the paid game.
Q: Tell us about your amateur career, highlights and yes, lowlights, because how people progress through difficulties can be illuminating and inspiring.
Son Tommy: When I started boxing I used to always hear the stories of the Irish champions from Cork and they were like hero’s to me so my goal was to be Irish champion as a child. I was just falling short in close fights in the championships for the first few years against guys that would then go on and win the nationals which was tough at the time but I kept training. After five years of trying and getting beat in semi finals or finals, I finally won my first national title and it was definitely worth the wait. I went on to win two more national titles and represent Ireland as a junior and senior boxer. I’m very fortunate to have got great experiences and I got the chance to fight all over the world against some quality opposition.
Q: So, the decision to go pro… How did that happen?
Son Tommy: Since I was a kid watching the pros fighting in Ireland and Rigo all over the world, I always wanted to turn professional.
We decided the time was right and on April 2nd, 2022 I was going to make my pro debut as the main event in Cork. Everything was looking great and it was ready to be a sell out until five days before the fight I got a phone call to say there was findings in my brain scan and I won’t be able to box again. I was obviously devastated with this news as this is all I wanted to do. So we decided to go and get a second opinion. We booked to see a neurologist in Dublin and he said he doesn’t believe that it’s anything serious and he wants me to come back in six months with another brain scan and if they are the same he is happy to let me continue boxing. It was a long six months where I just stayed in the gym training and trying to stay positive. I came back with the second scan and he said I was in no more danger than any other boxer so he was happy to let me start my career.
Q: Gary, that medical scare must’ve been trying…
Father Gary: Tommy was scheduled to make his pro debut on April 2nd last year in a show in Cork, Ireland which sold out in five days, but three days before the show we received a call from the doctor of Boxing Union of Ireland telling us that white matter was found in Tommy's MRI brain scan. The doctor told me to tell him take up swimming or golf as he would never box again. The doctor mentioned that it was possible that he had some dreadful diseases. Our whole family were devastated not solely because he couldn’t ever box again but the thought that something very sinister was going on in our main man’s brain. Thankfully after two leading professors of neurology carried out intensive tests such as lumbar puncture and bloods which took six months not only has Tommy got a clean bill of health but he has been cleared to box professionally. We are fully aware that boxing can be a dangerous sport but if Tommy had 1% more chance of injury than any other fighter then he wouldn’t have continued.
Q: OK, give us the scoop on your debut, on Dec 1, 2022. Kid from Cork, in Iowa!?
Son Tommy: I wanted to get fights as soon as possible and the most suitable show December 1st in Sioux Falls, South Dakota so that’s where we were heading. I remember before walking to the ring I was just thinking of all the drama over the last few months and I was delighted to finally get the chance to get started. I boxed a tough Czech who came to win but I broke him down dropping him three times and getting a 3rd round TKO.
Q: Gary, your recollection of the debut?
Father Gary: Tommy made his pro debut on December 1st in South Dakota and won by TKO round 3 having dropped his rugged game opponent three times. We had taken off and the pro journey had begun in sensational fashion.
Q: So Gary, are there any father/son/trainer/manager relationships that you’d like to emulate?
Father Gary: Joe and Enzo Calzaghe would be my favorite fighter/father relationship so hopefully I can guide Tommy like Enzo did with Joe. Tommy will fight his third pro fight on March 17th in Boston and just like his first amateur contest thirteen years ago I’ll be wishing I steered him towards a team sport but the victory is much sweeter when The Governor’s hand is raised.
Q: Tommy, what about fight number two, which occurred Jan 21, 2023, in Dorchester, Mass?
Son Tommy: We wanted to stay busy so I got a fight on the Manuel Charr – Lucas Browne undercard two weeks later in Dubai. After flying out there and being ready to fight, the show was cancelled the day before the weigh in. We were in contact with Jim Perella in Boston and I fought on his most recent show January 21st show. There’s a lot of Irish in Boston and the support I got made me feel like I was back home so it was great to get the 6th round stoppage in front of a great crowd. I will be fighting in the same venue on St Patrick’s Day so it’s just going to be even bigger and better this time, the Irish get behind each other and I saw that in January so I’m looking forward to a great night on March 17th in Boston.
Q: Gary, your recollection on fight number two against NOT the same opponent…even though foe 1 and foe 2 had the same (first) name!
Father Gary: Fight number 2 was on January 18th in Boston, Massachusetts another sensational performance which he won by TKO round 6. I didn’t mean to match him tough so early but the experience he has gained in these two pro fights will stand to him better than 10 first round KOs. Yes, my two first two opponents weren’t actually the same person Michael. They just had the same first name and both were from Czech, lol. (Editor Note: Argh, my reading comprehension needs to be improved. In his first fight, Tommy fought Jiri KORDA, in his second fight he battled Jiri KROUPA!)
Q: Tommy, what’s the near term and midterm plan for you? Also, please tell us about your team: trainers, manager, promoter etc.
Son Tommy: The plan is to stay busy this year, learn with every fight and keep progressing. I would love to fight back home in Cork so hopefully we can make that happen before the end of 2023.