Fitnescity client, Peter Quillin, is an American professional boxer, a talented fighter and a former world champion!
We sat down with Peter to discuss his journey from his humble beginnings to where he is today.
Watch Peter's next fight on FOX and FOX Deportes live on Saturday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET!
(Update - August 4, 2018: Peter wins over J’Leon Love)
Click on the video above for the full interview.
View excerpts from the interview:
Laila: So good morning Peter, how are you?
Peter: I'm good. How are you doing today?
Laila: I'm good. Thank you. So today we have with us Peter Quillin. So, Peter is an American professional boxer, very talented fighter, and former world champion and he's here with us today. It's not every day we get to talk to someone like you. So, thank you very much for joining us today.
Peter: Thank you for having me. I appreciate being on with you guys today. Thank you.
Laila: So, do you think it can start maybe by outlining your boxing career for us so just for those in our audience who might not be familiar with you.
Peter: Yes, I'm originally from Grand Rapids Michigan. My boxing career kind of started there as a teenager 15 years old. I walked into a boxing gym, and I knew boxing was going to be part of my life. It was kind of hard because it was hard to have my mom write off and sign off that I could be a boxer. So, I kind of like forged the signature and brought it to the gym and you know that's how I started boxing. Throughout that, you know, like I said boxing has been part of my life and you know It was hard as a teenager not having anybody to push me to go to the gym or hard to get to the gym. So sometimes I had to walk to the gym or run to the gym and um, it was hard finding a trainer originally, but through time, you know, I believe time heals everything. I found the gym that worked for me MGGA. The Michigan Golden Gloves Association where I first started boxing. A month into my training, after that month was done, I had my first fight in Canada. The first fight that I ever had was in Espanola Canada, and it was the first time I was ever out of the country. You know, it’s something that you know, kind of inspired me to say that, you know, I couldn't make it out where I'm from, Grand Rapids. I got to see something different and became a part of my life forever and now I live in New Jersey now, but I got to move to my dream place I always wanted to live which was New York City. I got to live there, you know through boxing and you know it was a rough story but through everything, you know. God always stayed with me and you know, I'm here to this day.
Laila: Perfect, and so how old were you when you did your first fight, the one you mentioned in Canada?
Peter: I was turning 16 years old. If I'm not mistaken. I was 15..., I was just turning I was 15 and then that next month, June 22nd I was turning 16. That was my first fight and I actually had a fight with a guy with the same name. His name was Peter, too. So I would never forget that, but yeah, I was 16 years old.
Laila: And so, you know I'm curious, what does it take to get to this level where you are today? I know there is a lot of work and sacrifice, but what does it take?
Peter: Well, you know like boxing is like a mental game. I don't think it's anything more than you physically, mentally, and spiritually going through something to get ready for a fight. So, it's kind of like what everybody it takes everybody to get to some type of level of success. It takes a lot of hard work, it takes a lot of believing in yourself, and it takes a lot of sacrifices. You know sacrifices always change, you know, it might be sacrificing taking time away from your family or sacrificing being away from your parents. Whatever that sacrifice is you have to know it, you have to deal with it, and you have to roll with the punches. For me to be where I'm at, it just took a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices, and a lot of believing in myself.
Laila: So, speaking of that, can you tell us about some of the setbacks that you might have had and how you think they shaped you, changed you, or inspired you?
Peter: Moving to New York with a trainer. When I was young I moved to New York when I was 18 or 19 years old and I moved with a trainer that basically promised me all these different things that would come about by me being in New York. We made the first step to go to Madison, Wisconsin. I was there, I stayed there for two weeks; It was a horrible situation. We were going into like a shelter program and the shelter program said that I could not stay with the trainer and I broke down and cried. They paid my one-way trip back to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The trainer ended up coming back with me because he didn't want to stay there in Madison without me. So, he end up coming back, then he kind of talked me into coming to New York, which I was skeptic about because I'm like, I just had a bad, you know situation experience with you in, Madison, Wisconsin. But I ended up coming because he got somebody on the phone that worked with Don King and they promised me all these things. Then I got to New York and none of those things happened. I found myself in a shelter program. I was living in the shelter and then training in East River Park in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And then he finally got a place, he lived in the Bronx and from there I got I got a job and it was rough and then he finally kicked me out and I had nowhere to go. And I had no job because I lost a job trying to make it to the gym and everything. It was a very rough situation that you know, I just had to roll with the punches at that time. I was sleeping on one of my friend’s couches that I met, and the couch was pretty small. I couldn't really even like lay there comfortably, so I ended up sleeping on the floor. A hardwood floor and you know, I just made everything work from that floor. It's like starting from the floor and becoming where I'm at right now is like I guess, the comeback story of the century.
Laila: Wow, yes, it is a beautiful image literally and as a metaphor. We heard you have an upcoming fight. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Peter: Yes, I'm fighting actually a guy named J'Leon Love. He's actually with the promotion team Mayweather promotions. I don't know if he still works with them, but I know he has some type of history with them. Floyd Mayweather is actually from the city I was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So, I'm the only fighter behind Floyd Mayweather from my hometown to win a world title. So, that's a blessing within his own, but when I moved in, New York you know when my career started to get rolling I started having an undefeated record. I had a lot of opportunities coming my way. So, I got to shoot for the Italian Vogue magazine. I forgot what year, 2007 I want to say and with another model and J'Leon Love, which is the guy I'm fighting; we made a kind of connection there. We never knew we were going to fight each other and you know now we're here now in 2018 about to square away. So we have history from the past and now we got something for the future to make well with each other, but I'm also excited about it because this is a fight that we really wanted.
Laila: And it's an August, right?
Peter: Yes, it's on August 4th and it's going to be live on Fox, primetime TV. This is for the world to be able to see, this is my comeback. You know, I've kind of stepped out the spotlight since I took a loss in 2016 to Danny Jacobs. I just had to find myself again. Not to say I lost myself but I started to lose myself a little bit because, you know, when fame, money, and all that starts to come your way it's kind of a challenge to be able to handle. But it’s all together now, I'm back right here and I feel like I'm meant to be here.
Laila: Perfect, we'll be there on August 4.
Laila: I'm sure that there are a lot of amateur fighters who are looking at you right now and aspiring to get to your level. So, would you be able to outline to us your training week? I know everybody's different but, you know, just to get a taste of what it takes to be a pro fighter.
Peter: Well, you know the training week that week is all about just making the weight. All the work has been done. I've been agonizing myself since January. So, I've been training, I was in California. I had to relocate back home because I've been away from my family for that since January up until April. Then you know, I had to relocate here find out a situation I can train with somebody here and now it’s almost August. So I've been training for a long time, but pretty much all the work is going to be done up into that week of the fight. Then we are just making weight. We're doing our two press runs with the interviews and everybody and pretty much I'm just focusing on zeroing in on the game plan for what they have for me. It's about just keeping your mind fit and focus into the fight. So that week is you know, it's a very rough week because when you making weight. It's a little bit more agitating you have, you know deal with people. People you know asking sometimes dumb question and then you have to answer these questions and you know it is a very trying time but more so, you know, that's what the way that the fight will go. It will go rounds like that where you maybe irritated or you have some trouble with something in it that you gotta learn to overcome.
Laila: And speaking of that do you have in general, not just for this fight, but you have any special routines to mentally prepare for a fight?
Peter: Well, I used to eat pigeon soup before I had a fight. That was my old-school ritual. My father was from Cuba, born and raised in Cuba so I'm a Cuban American. So the stuff that typically my dad used to have me do I used to believe that it would help me like eating Pigeon soup. Actually, it’s crazy I say that because I have two pigeons on my balcony right now. So maybe I'm going to go back to Pigeon soup after this. Other than that, I learned you know: I used to not wear anything outside Adidas shoes, but I have. I never wore gloves outside of Everlast, but I have. You know, I think when you learn how to get into a routine if that routine breaks it kind of it kind of messes up your mind. You have to deal with your focus. So, I just learned that you know, the fight is the main thing you want to focus on, not the shoes, not the gloves. There's nothing else that really matters unless it's just really something that you really need. You know at this point in my life God is always with me.
Laila: So, no pigeons for now?
Laila: You have been boxing for a long time, right, so I'm sure you know your body your limits very well, so why was it important for you to take one of these professional fitness tests, and how did it help you? What did you learn from it that you didn't know?
Peter: I didn't know about the accurate numbers. That they can get the accurate numbers by reading your body and get more detail than just getting pinched. My dietician Ashley was basically pinching me when I was in California, and now I'm away from her and she prescribed that I use this DEXA scan and it was something I was pretty fairly new to. I didn't know they had a scientific machine and I think sometimes people don't believe in doing things like this. But like for me numbers do really count, you know, the numbers in a fight count. How many punches you throw? You know everything, the numbers really count so, if I can get those accurate numbers and I need them, why not? I get to know my body even more than I already know it. I know that at this time in my career I'm a little older, you know, I'm a little bit more experienced I'm a little bit more, you know seasoned. The best thing for me to do is to link up with different companies that are getting give me those accurate numbers that I need. So, I've been pretty much happy with the results that I've been getting. I've been losing weight. I've been losing weight the healthy way. Not like in a way where an old-school boxer would put you in plastic and whatever else they're doing. I learned that's very unhealthy. You lose a lot of nutrients out your body from you know sweating like that so. You know, working with a DEXA I think is it's a new way for fighters to get the accurate numbers and just to look at your career in a little bit more of a professional way cuz professional boxing is different from amateur boxing but like professional, that word professional means that you have to take everything as on a professional level. So, I recover...The accurate numbers that I get from my body scan. I think all those are very important to you know, my health, you know, because you know boxers, you know It could only take one punch where you might not be to be the same. And have to always mention this guy Prichard Colón. Basically, he suffered from a bad punch and he never came back. I always send my prayers out to his family because they are dealing with something hard. You know dealing with concussions, I learned so much stuff about boxing that we really didn't know, and I try to always keep my mind focused on God because you know anything can happen in the fight. I have two young children, and I have a wife, and I couldn't imagine my wife's taking care of another person. You know is it's just hard to go into that thought process but DEXA all around helps my numbers and helps everything as far as my health.
Laila: You talked about it a little bit just now but what are some of the misconceptions that people have about boxers?
Peter: That we are we are not smart? That we are dumb or we all talk punchy. Punchy is basically a word that somebody's kind of slurring their words and boxing has kind of caught up with them. You know, I Invested in a large amount of real estate in my hometown with the money I made from boxing. And another thing as far as black athletes are concerned, the idea that they go broke after they career they don't have another Career that they can do. For me that's very important is that my goal is to make sure I'm able to go into another workforce after my career of boxing. I'm not looking to sit on my butt and just enjoy my family all the time. I'm looking to be a good example to my son on how to be a hard-worker as well as my daughter. You know how whenever her future husband comes along how to have a good hard-working husband. You know because I set the example in my house. So, I think is the stigma against boxers that we kind of like don't have any education or you know? We always think about "I just wanna fight" I'm not thinking like that. I think about, I got a lot of reasons why I fight: my family being one, God being another. There's so many reasons why fight but most importantly boxing is not all of my life. I am a father, I am a husband, I am a brother, I am a friend, I own companies. So, for me is this you know not spreading myself too thin but also making sure that I'm an example to other boxers in the game that you can at least try your hardest to get your education to be able to read your contracts. To know what your contracts are saying and what to do with your money. We're taught so aggressively how to make the money but we are not taught so aggressively you have to save the money.
Laila: And any ideas of what your next career perhaps would be?
Peter: I think honestly that this is the time of my career while I've been as close to God as possible; I've been staying obedient or to read my Bible every day and letting God reveal those things to me. I think I have a wide spectrum of things I could do. I did a movie. My movie is called Bleed for This. I actually got a speaking role. I’m in a Netflix original documentary, it's called Counterpunch in which I'm one of the three-part stories. you know, I have real estate. And more so I'm gonna let God have that part of my life where I don't have to use it as a worry. Most importantly, let me show you something else. Right here (picking up his daughter). This is the most significant part of my life. I gonna be her manager because he is the little model.
Laila: What her name?
Peter: Her name is Valencia. Can you say Hi?
Peter: Every day is a bonding time with her because like I was away for two years and I can count how many times on two hands how many times I've seen her in her life. This is seventh time right now being around her, but this is the longest time I've been with her now.
Laila: So now you finally get to dedicate your time?
Peter: My wife is actually trying to make enough money that I don't even have to work I can be a stay-at-home father. I don't know how that's gonna work. But most importantly I would love to be home with my kids all the time.
Laila: So, you have another…a son?
Peter: Yes, his name is Joaquin, yes. My son Joaquin is very I'm sweet. Like yesterday we went on an adventure, we called everything like an adventure. So we went shopping at the grocery store to grab some protein and he said, “You know Mary (his nanny’s name is Mary). Mary has a dog.” I say, “Yeah. I said that's nice. You know, you have a dog too, right?” Yeah, He said, "can we get that for Mary?" Then I look at the gift that he wanted to buy her, and it was a gift for her dog. He's only three years old he's going to be four in August and for a little kid like that you know, it's such a special thing. One time he goes up to me and says "Dad, you gonna go to the gym?" I said, yes. He said "Well, god bless you dad" Those little things, those little moments shape me every day and let me know that you know being a father is a very, very special thing to be able to have in your life and for me it is one of the best things that I could say I have in my life. It is the most shaping that I get to have as a man is having kids. And I'm very happy that boxing started all this that I have. It was all a childhood dream to have a wife and have kids and you know working every day. It's a challenge, It's a real fight. So, it's like equivalent to a boxing match. I think I'm losing with my wife all the time, though.., I never win (smiles).
Laila: Last question speaking of kids, why the ring name "Kid Chocolate"? I should have asked you in the beginning but…
Peter: It alright, usually people ask me that but, not only am I a black man, Chocolate, but there was a great Cuban fighter from the late 1920s early 1930s and Puerto Rican trainer and a Cuban trainer were in the City of Grand Rapids and he goes: "Man, you look like this original fighter named Kid Chocolate, he was from Cuba." Yeah. I said it's crazy you say that. They didn't know I was Cuban. Yeah, my fathers from Cuba. I'm a Cuban American. They were like yeah, and I never looked into it. But I thought about the name and I said, I'm not gonna call myself "Kid Chocolate", I'm gonna call myself "Kid Coco". But when I moved to New York, fast forward I opened this boxing encyclopedia and look...I turned it right to the page of Kid Chocolate and I read his story and I like man this is like me. He moved to New York from Havana Cuba and you know got his name and made his name known there in New York. He became a very big draw there and that's sort of kind of what I did. You know, I moved to New York, became a big name, big draw it there and you know I'm keeping his name alive because of my Cuban heritage. And most importantly It's like the second coming of the original.
Laila: All right, well, thank you so much Peter thank you. I really enjoyed this interview. Thanks for your time, and we're glad to have you with us at Fitnescity and to have you here today. Thanks again.
Peter: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you for all the work you're doing, and I really thank you for this interview. Hopefully it will get out to the to the listener, and I hopefully I solidly and positively, change their perspective of health.
Laila: Well, thank you