LaPlace native improves to 10-0 in boxing ring

Published 12:03 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

CATSKILL, N.Y. — Growing up in LaPlace, Alvin Varmall Jr. didn’t want to be a fighter.

When you’re an overweight kid with a stutter, though, sometimes you have no choice.

“I never wanted to fight anybody, but sometimes I was forced to,” Varmall said.

Lucky for him — but not so lucky for the bullies — Varmall has a mean hook.

“I used to knock guys out,” he said. “I was just naturally a fighter. Even when I was crying I’d still win.”

Varmall is laughing now.

At the age of 24, Varmall is an up-and-coming professional boxer, living in Catskill, N.Y., training in the Cus D’Amato gym, the same gym that helped mold Mike Tyson. He even has trained with Tyson, Varmall’s idol and the man he tries to emulate in virtually everything.

He calls himself “Iron Majik,” an ode to “Iron Mike” Tyson. The “Majik” came from Varmall’s own “magic” in the ring.

“My old trainer came up with that,” Varmall said. “He said, ‘We’re going to call you magic because when you hit these guys, they just go poof.’ The magic came from me being able to do extraordinary things in the ring, knocking out heavyweight guys that outweigh me by 30 pounds. It’s just like magic. One minute you see me, the next minute you don’t.”

Varmall isn’t just bragging, either.  He just improved his record to 10-0 as a professional fighter, with eight knockouts. His latest came June 17 against Maryland fighter Willis Lockett.

“I knocked him out of the ring,” Varmall said of his sixth round knockout. “I was a little frustrated because I didn’t knock him out in the early rounds. But I still dropped him in the sixth.”

Varmall will go for his 11th win July 22. His opponent has not yet been determined.

It’s been a long road to there from LaPlace for Varmall, an East St. John High graduate. He really wanted to be a football player, and he really wanted to be a running back like his dad Alvin Sr. That didn’t work out for him, though. His coach wanted him to be a linebacker.

“I thought maybe if I could lose a little weight my coach would give me a chance to run the ball,” Varmall said. “One Christmas, I asked my dad to get me a punching bag. That was just it.”

Eventually, he quit the football team. After high school, he was looking for something new. He bumped into a longtime friend at a Mardi Gras parade who told him he was boxing.

“My dad took me to the gym, I signed up and never left,” Varmall said.

Varmall went on to become the 2013 AAU National Champion, ranked No. 1 in the world. He went 21-2 as an amateur, knocking out 19 of his opponents.

He said one of those losses was against a Russian. The other shouldn’t count, though.
“My shoulder popped out of place during the fight and the ref stopped the contest,” he said. “I wouldn’t even count that.”

It was his reputation as an amateur that came to the attention of Tyson, who flew him down to Florida for some training.

Some in the boxing world even compare Varmall, who is a cruiserweight fighter, to Tyson.

“I just try to leave people saying, ‘Wow. When is this guy going to fight again?’” Varmall said. “I never go into the ring thinking I’m going to win by a knockout. You have to prepare yourself. You have to be able to fight.

“If you go in looking for that one big punch, that one could never come and you end up losing on points. You have to box.

“I just go in there and try to be more technically sound than anything.”

As it is, “Iron Majik” proudly wears black and gold colors, both for his alma mater and for the New Orleans Saints, and his emblem is a fleur de lis. Someday, however, he hopes to enter the ring wearing a black suit of armor.

“I live my life like a gladiator,” he said. “You have to be entertaining and exciting. That’s how people will remember you.

“I want people to look at me and at my story. When you put God first and you believe in something, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t.”