“Basically, there were no rules,” Hoffman said. “I suffered an injury that put me in a coma for a short period of time. I was told I would never be able to fight again.”
With fighting still in his blood, he eventually resumed training and took over Western Avenue Boxing Gym, 4416 N. Western. After doctors gave him the green light to re-enter the ring three years ago, Hoffman applied for his license from the boxing commission and restarted his professional career. He will fight at 7 p.m. Saturday at Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens.
It gets addictive.
Now 40, Hoffman has the chiseled look of an aged fighter, a body that’s had the softness beaten out of it, and a face wearing scars and breaks like war medals. His career is catching a second wind at a time when most boxers are in their twilight years, but resilience is a family trait; his brother is Mat Hoffman, the death-defying pioneer of BMX freestyle.
At a January bout at Remington Park, Hoffman sat in the VIP lounge with his pink-haired protégée, Rebecca Miller, also fighting Saturday. The British pixie first walked into his gym a year and a half ago for self-defense classes, but fell in love with boxing and is now at the dawn of her professional career with a 1-1 record as a light flyweight.
“Before I came into the gym, I wouldn’t look people in the eye,” Miller said. “They used to laugh about me, the girl from England with bangs in front of her face so she can’t even see. Boxing totally changed my life.”
Her transformation comes from a punishing training regimen, said Hoffman. The change is just as much mental as it is physical for those who survive the first month.
“We have classes for just about everything from workout classes, sparring classes, Krav Maga, Muay Thai, MMA,” Hoffman said. “We cover all the bases that we think will give a fighter a solid foundation.”
He said boxing is still the most difficult to learn, because while MMA takes advantage of grappling, which the human body is designed for, punching is an unnatural action, requiring more conditioning and training.
“The first two weeks are pretty rough, but after that, it gets addictive,” Hoffman said. “It will get you into the best shape of your life. It will increase your stamina and ability. It changes people. … After a few months, they aren’t going to get pushed around anymore.”