Having had three too many brushes with death as the result of gun play, Gary Hampton finally made a better choice.
He decided for a new life in boxing.
The runner-up a year ago in the Fort Worth Regional Golden Gloves 141-pound Men’s Open division, the 24-year-old from Everman figures to compete well again for the title.
He unquestionably has the toughness to do so. Hampton has survived six bullet wounds in three different shooting incidents.
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Fool me once, shame on you … twice, shame on me … three times, it becomes crystal clear that I’m running with the wrong crowd.
However long it took Hampton to make a change he couldn’t be happier with where he is in his life and new friends.
“I used to like to fight. I was in a lot of trouble,” Hampton said. “A friend suggested I get into the ring. So I tried it. Boxing saved my life.”
He didn’t waste any time after his last scrape. Hampton walked into the Gold Gloves gym on Henderson Street with the help of crutches.
Hampton, who now trains out of Faith, Hope and Gloves, is scheduled to box Friday in the semifinals of the tournament against Manuel Herrera.
The tournament continues through Saturday at the Will Rogers Memorial Center’s Watt Arena. Bouts start at 7 p.m.
Hampton said his issue wasn’t with gangs. He didn’t run in those circles, he said, but, it’s safe to say, he might not have exactly kept a safe distance.
Partying was his thing. And he didn’t mind a good street fight, either. One guy brought more than a closed fist.
Hampton said he wasn’t the intended target when hit twice in a shooting at a club. That led to a brief stay at the county hospital. A second time, he was grazed by a missile fired by a shotgun. Again, he was not the intended recipient, he said. His injury was so mild, he didn’t even seek treatment.
The third time, Hampton said, he was more than worthy of blame. He’s perfectly honest about what happened that night, perhaps a near-death experience being the truth serum.
He had gotten into a fight at a club and it continued outside. Hampton ended up on the ground with .40-caliber gunshot wounds to his legs and backside, three in all.
His assailant stood over him poised to fire a final shot. But out of nowhere someone intervened. That’s all Hampton knows.
A complete stranger “saved my life.”
Back again at the hospital, his family and friends finally connected with him. The message: “You have got to make better choices.”
He has turned it around. “I left that life that night and never went back.”
Hampton has also grown being a father, a role he took on with his girlfriend’s young son, someone he “loves like he’s my own.”
“It’s been good to have Gary at the gym. He’s a good kid,” said Ray Berrera, his coach at Faith, Hope and Gloves. “And he loves boxing. I believe in him.”
Hampton enters this year’s regional tournament, his fourth at the Gloves, the presumable favorite in the 141 Men’s Open.
He lost in the first round in each of his first two years, both in the Men’s Novice division. Last year, he fell to two-time 141 open champion David Fabela, a one-time state champion.
Hampton is also a year along further as a new, happy, and redeemed man.
“I think he has a good shot,” Berrera said. “The Open looks pretty open. A lot of new faces. Gary has the experience of having been through it. I think he has a very good chance. It’s all about him.”
55 pounds (8-9): Daniel Segovia d. Ethan Mares, dec.
75 pounds (8-9): Alex Benavidez d. Juan Avila, dec.
80 pounds (9-10): Christopher Madrid d. Isaac Flores, dec.
60 pounds (8-9): Angel Vargas d. Jaden Sanchez, dec.
80 pounds (10): Mesiah Nimo d. Eduardo Rangel, dec.
101 pounds (11-12): Nicholas Cortez d. Daniel Garcia, dec.; Alejandro Velazquez d. Dario Garcia, dec.
110 pounds (11-12): Kennett McLane d. Ty Hill, dec.
125 pounds (11-12): Marcelino Issaac d. Victor Delgadillo, dec.
90 pounds (11-12): Joseph Rios d. Nestor Mejia, dec.
106 pounds (13-14): Miguel Huerta d. Jessie Mendez, dec.
90 pounds (13-14): Michael Fernandez d. Eric Martinez, dec.
132 pounds (15-16): Phil Hanley d. Jake Parrish, dec.; Mateus Deliberato d. Ryan Austin, disqualified.
154 pounds (15-16): Jake Reynolds d. Arturo Ortega, dec.
123 pounds: Carlos Pena d. Miguel Martinez, dec.
152 pounds: Jason Chambers d. Eric Gonzales, dec.; Josue Carreon d. Myron Anderson, dec.; Christian Raney d. Brandon Alvarez, dec.
165 pounds quarterfinals: Chaudrion Hughes d. Jeremiah Morris, dec.
55 pounds (9-10): Jahmar Johnson vs. Giovanni Oliva.
60 pounds (8-9): Leon Bonilla vs. Vershawn Long.
65 pounds (9-10): Maricelo Del Aguila vs. Prince Nimo.
70 pounds (9-10): Kayson Megal Jones vs. Reymundo Rangel.
80 pounds (10): Hernesto Mejia vs. Eduardo Rangel/Mesiah Nimo.
75 pounds (11-12): Dasea Garcia vs. Kanon Lightfoot.
95 pounds (11-12): Mazen Eid vs. Jack Damphousse.
101 pounds (11-12): Daniel Garcia vs. Anthony Gonzalez/Nicholas Cortez; Sebastian Dayer/Dario Garcia vs. Alejandro Velazquez.
65 pounds (11-12): Briley Garrett vs. Jason Esparza.
90 pounds (12): Israel Villegas vs. Christian Cantu.
125 pounds (13-14): Brandon Click vs. Francisco Ramirez.
138 pounds (13-14): Israel Perez vs. Gabriel Gonzales.
106 pounds (13-14): Emmanuel Carrillo vs. David Uribe.
110 pounds (13-14): Francisco Castro vs. Joseph Almajdi.
114 pounds (13-14): Nathan Ortega vs. Pedro Castro.
114 pounds (15-16): Chance Salazar vs. Angel Valdez.
119 pounds (15-16): Carlos Galindo vs. Kwame Nimo.
132 pounds (15-16): Phil Hanley vs. Mateus Deliberato.
145 pounds (16-17): Brayan Martinez vs. Zaine Marquez.
132 pounds: Andrew Davis vs. Dearon Bursey; Manuel Ochoa vs. Taylor Hill.
141 pounds: Jordan Salinas vs .Juan Renteria; Michael Karr vs. Jherion Levesque.