INDIANAPOLIS — The call came around 1 a.m. for boxing promoter Murad Muhammad, a former body guard of Muhammad Ali who found and promoted Manny Pacquaio. He was awakened by a call from his cousin, a boxing scout. With one statement he had Muhammad’s full, undivided attention.
“I’ve found Muhammad Ali.”
His cousin was referring to Indianapolis native Anthony Sims Jr.
After many conversations with Sims’ mother, Tohana Sims-Capler, and meetings with both her and Anthony, Muhammad signed Sims to a professional boxing contract in front of more than 50 friends and family Saturday night at the Indiana Urban League.
Sims turned 18 on Feb. 23, officially becoming eligible to pursue a career as a pro boxer.
When Anthony was just 6, his father, Anthony Sims Sr., was killed in a car accident. Sims Sr. was an alternate on the 1980 U.S. Olympic boxing team but due to the U.S. boycott on the USSR, he never made it to the Moscow games. Most of Jr.’s motivation is channeled from the memory of his father. He not only fights, but lives in honor of his father and that quality comes from the rock solid foundation that is his mother.
“At that time, my mother came to me and told me I could make two decisions,” Sims said. “I can either let my father’s death ruin my life or I can make it into something positive.”
To say he made such a tragic event into something positive is a monumental understatement. Sims started out wrestling and doing karate, but the move to boxing just made sense.
“I started off wrestling but I used to get angry when they would get on top of me so I would punch them in the face,” Sims said. “I did karate and it was the same. I would end up punching them in the face, so I started boxing.”
And from the moment he started boxing, Sims started winning.
He has a record of 188 wins and only 12 losses that compliment his 10 national titles very well. Add those to his Junior World Title and it stands to reason that this member of Team USA boxing is poised to become the light-heavyweight champion of the world.
With a professional contract now added to the lengthy list of accomplishments, it’s guaranteed to bring more expectations, especially when one of the best promoters in the business is comparing Sims to Ali. But having never had an issue meeting expectations before, it may not be such a tall task.
Sims knows adversity and perseverance all too well and a life full of obstacles has only prepared him for boxing’s biggest stage.
“The most pressure I’ve ever had on me was over these last five years,” Sims Jr. said. “My mother and I would go to these tournaments in different states that would cost $2,000 a tournament and because it was an elimination tournament, if I lost the first one we have other hotels booked and we won’t get our money back so I had no choice but to win.”
When Sims Jr. isn’t doing ballet or going for a run in his preferred cold, rainy, and muddy climate, he’s relaxing. He listens to Explosions in the Sky, a calm, purely instrumental band, or watches one of his favorite romantic movies to remove himself as the violent aggressor and to re-group during much needed down time.
Outside the ropes and in between the hours upon hours of training and sparring, there’s a man with a mission that is seldom seen among pro athletes.
To be 18 and have such a “big-picture” attitude toward life is truly a rarity these days among athletes and icons that are on their way to making a healthy sum of money.
“Boxing and turning professional is only a fraction of what I was put on earth to do,” Sims said. “My real calling is to help the children. When I was younger my mother would take me to charities and orphanages and I never understood why we had to do that but she did it because she wanted me to understand at any moment we could be in that situation. I’m here to take the wealth that I’ll gain from boxing to make the world a better place.”
Sims’ mother will continue the role she’s been playing in his life even as he takes the next step in his career. She’s now his manager, something promoter Murad Muhammad insisted on because of the time and effort she has put into making all of this possible.
Sims is confident, not cocky, and there is a difference.
Name any of boxing’s most successful fighters and it becomes instantly clear that you have no business getting into the ring if you don’t think you’re the best. It’s a sport that requires finesse, strength, agility, and swagger. All of which are included when Sims steps into the ring. He’s earned the right as much as he deserves the right to be the first to tell you he is what all the fuss is about.
“I believe I am that person,” Sims said. “What I do is ordinary to me. What LeBron James does is probably ordinary to him. They say every 20 years an extraordinary athlete is born and I’ve been told that I’m that athlete and I believe I am that athlete. I don’t want the fame and the flash; that’s not me, but I believe I am that type of champion.”
Indianapolis and Sims will soon become synonymous with one another and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Indianapolis is Sims’ hometown. A hometown that has given him so much and Sims Jr. plans on giving back.
“I can’t see myself anywhere else,” he said. “I’m not leaving this city. I’m going to bring it back home. They want me to fight in Vegas and New York but I’m bringing it back home. I’m the root of a beautiful flower that is about to grow. Bringing it back here will create opportunities for kids that otherwise wouldn’t have been looked at by scouts and colleges. I’m going to take the light off of me and put it on Indianapolis.”