Undefeated professional middleweight boxer Vaughn Alexander lives a life devoted to religious faith and the peace and focus it brings him. He has reached this place at age 32 after experiencing the violence of hard times, including an 11-year prison term.
Alexander's remarkable rebirth in the boxing ring continues on Saturday, August 4, in Atlantic City, New Jersey when he faces Denis Douglin (20-6, 13 KOs) on the undercard of the Kovalev vs. Alvarez card at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's Etess Arena.
After losing 11 years of a promising boxing career, Alexander (12-0, 8 KOs) possesses a sense of urgency and an unmatched work ethic. "It's all work and no play for me. I'm always in the gym, working my craft. I stay ready. That's all I do," said Vaughn.
Slightly disappointed in his last outing, a decision win in March against a last minute opponent, the much bigger Devaun Lee, Vaughn said he's rededicated himself to strength training in addition to working on his defense and speed. "I'm so strong right now, if I fought (Lee) now, I would have knocked him down. My last fight, I was in top condition. For this fight, I'm strong."
Alexander, a practicing and devout Muslim, began training for the upcoming fight with Douglin while observing Ramadan from May 15 to June 14, which required him to fast during daylight hours. It gives Alexander a keen perspective. "My focus is to get closer to God, and that's the most important thing. I'm thankful I was born with the will I have.
"Don't get me wrong, it's hard to work at two gyms and fast at the same time," admitted Alexander. "God says, 'when you feel that hunger, think about the poor person.' The poor person never knows where he's getting that next meal. That's what I think about during the month of Ramadan, when I'm fasting and have those hunger pangs. I know where my next meal is coming from. That's what carries me.
"It definitely is a special benefit to me, a blessing to me. I feel that any fighter I fight, no matter how skillful they are, there is no fighter at 160 pounds with the mental strength I have," stressed Alexander.
Alexander also wants people to understand what his faith is about. "A Muslim is not someone that's a terrorist. A Muslim is on a spiritual walk on an everyday basis. You read the Koran every day. It's not to hurt anyone, or offend anyone. I am here to please God as much as I possibly can.
"If radical people put a bad taste in people's mouths that don't know about Muslims, I apologize on their behalf. That is not us. Islam is a religion of peace, not the radical thing you see on the news. They are not Muslims. This is something they adopted on their own.
"I'm a peaceful guy, a standup guy, a nice guy. I take care of my family. I'm doing this for myself, this is my God-given talent and my family benefits from what I do in the ring. I want people to have an open mind about what a real Muslim is ... I hope people will give me a fair shake," said Vaughn.
Douglin is a hard-hitting veteran from Las Vegas, whose losses came at the hands of top talent including George Groves, David Benavidez, Anthony Dirrell, and Jermell Charlo. This does not intimidate Alexander in the least.
"I've got to be on my toes," said Vaughn. "I've seen him. He says if he loses, he's going to retire. He says he's not losing no more. I'll take everything seriously - everything he says, everything he posts. This is the hurt business. I have to be mentally prepared as well as physically prepared.
"At some point in every fight, you've got to be a thinking man. That's what sets me apart. I can adjust to any situation in a fight." Alexander credits longtime trainer Kevin Cunningham with instilling this ability in him and in his brother, three-time champion Devon Alexander. "That's why Devon is three times a world champion, and Lord willing why I'm going to be a world champion.
"I'm ready for whatever he's going to bring," promises Vaughn. "Anyone he lost to, I can beat. No disrespect ... I've come to take care of business. I'm putting people on notice - the boxing world, the middleweight and the super middleweight divisions. Everybody gets a turn. It's about how you choose and what you do with your turn when it comes around. I'm taking full advantage of every opportunity I get."