Hasan Young is quiet, humble, and unassuming and if you ever watched him in the ring, you would walk away thinking he was a superstar in the making in the sport.
Young is not your typical Philadelphia fighter in the sense that he would not just go into the ring and bang with you, he would have a plan. If he needed to bang, he would, but he always had a plan.
Young always listened to his heart and mind in the ring and when his heart and mind told him it was time to retire, he never questioned it.
That is why it is not surprising to some closest to him, to not question his retirement from the sport of boxing at the young age of 23.
Why? He is a good-looking kid, brought up well, speaks well and has the heart of a lion. Go back and watch his second to last fight of his career. A scheduled eight-round affair against Julio Dejesus that turned out to be a flat out bloody war.
The untested boxer was thrown to the wolves in the fight, and responded by simply punishing the hard-punching 38-year-old journeyman fighter out of Vineland, NJ, en route to the TKO win when Dejesus didn’t get off the stool for the sixth round.
The jam-packed crowd at Harrah’s Philadelphia took notice and so did the rest of Philly boxing after that gutsy performance.
His coming out party was a thing of beauty mixed in with grit and pure will.
Young was 4-1 and fought one last time, a six-round win against Justin Johnson at Resorts International in Atlantic City, NJ. in early January. This time he simply dominated his opponent, flooring Johnson twice in the second round, and once in the fifth and then the sixth. Not only did he break Johnson’s will he broke his spirit.
He improved to 5-1-1 and there was talk that this up-and-coming light welterweight prospect out of Philly was going to be “can’t miss”.
But after seven pro bouts and as fall turned into winter and then spring, Young announced his retirement.
His religious beliefs were the reason he hung up his gloves.
Young believed there was more to life then boxing and true to his word, he did not hesitate when he announced his retirement to his family and friends.
He has been reluctant to speak about it until now.
In his first public interview, Young talks about why he retired, his daily battles that have not been kept from many for years and his plan going forward.
Rich: What prompted you to hang up the gloves at the age of 23?
Hasan: “Well, funny thing is that I was just caught between a rock and hard place and I love my religion, it is a way of life and boxing was just my profession. I had to choose from making money and being rich and famous or my happiness, and my faith is more important then my fight, and I am happy with my decision. And I just wanted to live a normal life. I have been boxing since I was 10 years old. I am learning to adjust and I just want to weigh my options, whether I want to go back to college or continue with my person training company, Hit-Squad fitness, so I am just trying to find my way.
Rich: When you say you are retiring because of your religious beliefs, that could be a blanket statement, can you expand on that.
Hasan: “I am Muslim, I am a Sunni Muslim. I am a Muslim that you would find in Saudi Arabia or Mecca, there is no racism or classism in my religion. It is believing in one God.”
Rich: Was it tough when you made that decision? What did you family and friends say and the guys you box and spar with? I am curious to hear how everyone took it.
Hasan: “People who know me well, they know I joke a lot, but if you really know me like they know me, they also know I am very serious. My mom knew just how serious I was. People feel very sad for me, especially my dad because he lives his dreams through me, but my mom got over it pretty quickly. But, that is life. When you have children and you have all the talent to provide for them you realize God is really the provider and you really can not fault me. No one did. It was an easy transition for me.”
Rich: Did anyone pull you to the side and tell you give it time, or maybe this is just a phase you were going through? Did anyone try to talk you out of it.
Hasan:”Nope, no one at all, no one tried to talk me out of it, not one person. I announced my retirement on April 1st. Some people thought it was an April Fool’s joke, but it was no joke and the people who knew me knew I was very serious.”
Rich: You were scheduled to fight in early April, so I would imagine when you were off the card people were wandering what was going on.
Hasan: “Yeah, you are right, you know I was going to fight April 4th at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. When they saw that I was not on the card and I was not fighting, they knew I was serious. I just put my trust in God. Whatever happens, happens.”
Rich: Not a lot of young boxers think like that. They want the money and the glory right away.
Hasan: “Whether I am rich and famous or making money, it just does not mean as much to me as it did a year or so ago, or six months ago. It means nothing new. I just want to be happy now and my wife and I just want to be happy together and live a good peaceful life.”
Rich: Did you just wake up one morning and say to yourself, I am done. Or was this something that just manifested itself over time and you just started to believe that there was something more out there for you.
Hasan: “Yeah, there is something more. It was building up over time with a bunch of things. A lot of people do not know I was diagnosed with psychosis, so it is otherwise not specified. I have been in and out of mental hospitals for the past five years, I take medicine daily, I take it everyday.”
Rich: Did it ever affect you when it came to boxing?
Hasan: “I have had an episode before a fight once, I thought I was tired and I just was really just all over the place. I decided I needed to focus on my religion and I needed peace. I just needed to do this. I am not trying to be righteous or anything like that. But I just want to be happy and my religion is everything to me. Look at Sugar Ray Robinson he said he hated boxing, I love boxing, I loved the sport, but I just knew there was more and I wanted to focus on my religion and maybe help people.”
Rich: People hear the term “Psychosis” and they are quick to draw their own conclusions, fair or not.
Hasan: “Yeah, people look at people who are diagnosed with “Psychosis” are crazy, but we are not crazy people. I am a very peaceful guy. I never like to get into an argument or confrontation. My religious beliefs make me a very peaceful person and you will never see me get into an argument or anything like that. I am a peaceful guy and I can be the voice for people who are hurting or suffering from psychosis. If that is my plan going forward that so be it. I went through it. I was a star athlete and I went through it every day, so if I can help them and educate them and just be the voice then I will be that voice.”
Rich: I think it took a lot of guts for you to speak so open and honest. I appreciate the fact that you opened up to me as well.
Hasan: “You have always be fair with me and you are always accurate and fair, and that means a lot. I appreciate that. It is funny we are talking about that right now and I remember watching my fights and you are broadcasting my fights, so life is funny but it is good.”
Rich: Speaking of fights, have you watched any, if it is here and there?
Hasan: “I watched a little bit of the Chris Algieri fight, but I have not watched many fights. I have not really even gotten a chance to get around to that.”
Rich: Have you stepped foot in a boxing gym since you retired?
Hasan: “I have not been to a boxing gym. I go to my gym, which is a fitness gym.”
Rich: What did you do with your gloves and trunks?
Hasan: “I gave everything to my dad.”
Rich: How do you want to be remembered?
Hasan: “Remember me as a man, the man outside the ring and not inside the ring.”
Rich: Any message you want to add?
Hasan: “Just be happy in life. My decision was to be happy in life. So just be happy in your life, and if you are not, then you need to make changes. I am very happy and content and I am at peace with my decision.”
Rich: It was a pleasure and I wish you all the best going forward.
Hasan: “Thank you and thank you for giving me the time to talk today.”
Rich Quiñones is an award winning broadcaster and journalist. He is the lead blow-by-blow Boxing voice for GFL.tv and Go Fight Live’s Boxing on Comcast. He has sat ringside calling the action with Monte Barrett, Brian Adams, Amir Mansour, Danny Garcia, James Kirkland, Mark Breland, Ronnie Shields, Teddy Atlas and Lou DiBella, while broadcasting over 125 bouts for GFL in 2013-2014.
Rich is also a contributor to Ringnews24.com and he has also handled calling the action for Muay Thai and is exclusive lead blow-by-blow voice for CFFC MMA.