Boxer Marcus Browne, 21, is heading to the Summer Olympics in London. There, he'll represent Team USA in the light heavyweight division.
The proud New Yorker was kind enough to set aside a few minutes to chat on the phone about his upbringing on Staten Island and in Brooklyn and Queens before heading out for a jog—just one way he's preparing to bring a gold medal back to the borough of Wu-Tang Clan and Christina Aguilera.
How did you pick up boxing?
MB: A friend of mine named N'wachi Hartley, who passed away in 2008—I followed him to the gym one day. Then I ran into my trainer, Gary Stark Sr. That's when I was 13.
What's the gym called?
MB: It was Park Hill Boxing Club [in Staten Island]. Now it's Park Hill Atlas Cops & Kids.
Would you say that's a good place for a kid to get started in boxing?
MB: Of course! Most definitely. That's if they're serious. If they're not, my trainer will rip them apart. [Laughs]
What was it like growing up on Staten Island?
MB: It's crazy. I moved from Staten Island to East Flatbush, Brooklyn, when I was 13. Then I moved from Brooklyn to Far Rockaway when I was 16. Then I moved back to Staten Island when I was 18. So I felt like I grew up in Brooklyn a little bit, because I was there during my teenage years and met a lot of new people.
But to me, growing up on Staten Island is always a good thing. It's much different from Brooklyn and Queens. It's a more family-oriented feeling there, because everybody knows everybody else. It's very small. So growing up on Staten Island is cool, but you have to get out to understand life. If you don't, you'd just be trapped on a small island—which we call “Shutter Island.” [Laughs]
What are your memories of East Flatbush?
MB: Man, I used to work on getting my weaves back when I was a kid, because that was the most popular thing. [Laughs] Going to the barbershop and the nail salon was my favorite thing to do. I was a weird kid. Don't judge me.
Do you want to make any guarantees about your performance in London?
MB: No guarantees. Just stay chillin' and trust me. I'm not going out like a sucka.
Marcus' Favorite Places to Hang Out and Shop in New York City:
Park Hill Atlas Cops & Kids Program
140 Park Hill Ave., Park Hill, Staten Island
Various locations, Manhattan
556 Broadway, 212-431-5450, SoHo, Manhattan
610 Broadway, 212-529-0081, NoHo, Manhattan
132 Prince St., 212-966-6011, SoHo, Manhattan
588 Richmond Road, Park Hill, Staten Island
Follow Marcus on Twitter at @Marcus_Browne.