By Patrick Cochran
The light shines bright at the Fight and Fitness gym as natural sunlight flows through the gigantic sky lights, making artificial light unnecessary with trainer Paris Alexander illuminating the room.
Despite standing small in stature at about 5’8” and weighing 140 pounds, Alexander is a larger-than-life character.
Now 50 years old, the former boxer has an outsized personality that fits in perfectly with the outlandish sport he made his name in.
Although Alexander never became a superstar on par with the Mike Tysons and Manny Pacquiao’s of the world, he was able to carve a more than respectable niche for himself in the sport.
Alexander, who graduated from City College in 1985, accomplished many feets like reaching top-level competition as well as fighting against legends like Oscar De La Hoya.
Alexander, who was promoted by the infamous Don King, held two championship belts during his career.
He now works as a full-time trainer at Fight and Fitness gym and says he feels right at home.
Like a lord with his subjects, Alexander holds court and entertains with stories of past fights and life in general.
Alexander, who fought as a lightweight for most of his career, holds a career record of 25-18 with 4 draws and 7 knockouts.
“Stay above .500, that was my goal,” Alexander said.
An aspect of his record that Alexander holds immense pride in is never being knocked out by an opponent.
“Never being knocked out is important part of my career,” Alexander said. “I can say I’ve knocked out more people, which as a boxer isn’t easy.”
Alexander began boxing at the age of 17 at the Armory Building located in the Mission District.
“I had walked past it 100 times. I stopped by one day, and started hitting the bag,” Alexander said. “For some reason I got interested, started to shadow box and train. I wanted to learn to box…”
Alexander looks back very fondly on those early days. “All of us were a team. We were in different weight classes and pushed each other. We had bromances before bromances were even a thing,” Alexander said with a large grin.
Alexander attended the City College of San Francisco from 1983 until 1985. “Back then City was free,” Alexander exclaimed.
At the time City College had a boxing team, so Alexander was able to box for the Rams. After finishing up at City College Alexander transferred to San Francisco State University. Unfortunately for Alexander, SFSU didn’t have a boxing team so he had to train on his own.
During this period Alexander was an amatuer boxer, fighting in Golden Glove fights and other events for amateurs. Posting a 30-5 record as an amateur, Alexander relishes on how much easier the competition was during those early days.
“When you’re in the amateurs people are easier to KO. Knock ‘em down people got screwed up. In the pros you knock ‘em, down and they just get mad.” said Alexander.
Alexanders first fight as a pro was versus Abe Gomez in 1986. The fight was at Cathedral Hill in San Francisco and Alexander scored his first victory as a professional.
“It was a thrill winning my first fight in my hometown,” Alexander said.
Alexander went on to win his next seven fights, starting his professional career out at 8-0. The young Alexander was gaining recognition in the boxing world as an excellent welterweight and lightweight, two classes he bounced in between throughout his career.
The most famous person Alexander fought was Oscar De La Hoya. The two squared off in the ring on January 3, 1993 in Hollywood.
It was showtime for Alexander, going against De La Hoya who was just coming off a gold medal in the Olympics and was beginning his much hyped professional career.
Alexander lost in the second round to the future champ, but it is a moment he will never forget.
“He was young and brash. It would of been nice to derail the Golden Boy,” Alexander said. “I have had people all over the world stop and ask me about that fight.”
One of the most interesting parts of Alexander’s story as a professional boxer is that he was represented by the infamous boxing promoter Don King in the mid nineties.
King, who has represented numerous champions like Mike Tyson and is noted for his almost cartoon like appearance with his large hair, was a good manager to Alexander despite having a career reputation as being corrupt and a cheat.
“I fought for Don King in Vegas and he paid me everytime,” Alexander said with a smile like he won the lottery.
Alexander amusingly notes that boxing is a sport that naturally attracts “cheats, scammers, and hustlers.”
In 2000, Alexander retired from boxing. His achievements include the California Lightweight Championship, which he held from 1996 until 1997 and the NWBA Lightweight Championship, a belt he had from 1996 until 1999.
Nowaday Alexander makes a full-time living as a boxing trainer.
“Lucky enough to slide right into training. The transition was very smooth,” Alexander said.
He lives in Oakland and couldn’t be happier with his life. He has a daughter and just the thought of her brings him pride and joy.
“To make a living my whole life from boxing is something I feel extremely blessed for,” Alexander said.