He’s been training day and night, and this Saturday, District Attorney Seth Williams steps into the ring with the so-called “Philadelphia Johnnie Cochran,” Tariq El Shabazz, for a one-of-a-kind boxing match rumored to be of epic proportions.
Put on by the Urban League of Philadelphia and Joe Hand Boxing Gym, the “Litigation Situation,” as its being dubbed, or Golden Gloves Night at the Fights event will take place at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, and it’s all for charity.
El Debarge will perform, tickets range from $40 to $125 and several organizations will benefit from the match, including the United Way, the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Penn State Abington, and others.
“I got in shape starting in September 2014. I lost 55 lbs. – 45 in the first 100 days, so since then I’ve been in a dance competition, ran the Broad Street Run, a 5K to support charity," said Williams.
“It’s hard to say no when you hear the organizations which will benefit from it."
Shabazz was formerly an assistant district attorney and now does criminal defense. Williams said he heard Shabazz speak at a public event in the spring of 1991 and since then has always considered him a mentor.
Williams, 49, said he was trained by Danny Davis, trainer for the famous Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins.
“The training for this was really extreme,” he said.
“I wish I had time to learn more footwork and how to move around the ring. Keeping your hands up with the gloves on – you have a mouthpiece, headgear, you’re moving around the ring trying all the while to duck so you’re not getting hit, thinking at anytime you might get knocked out. It’s a lot going on in your head.
“My goal is to get out there, keep my hands up and keep it moving."
Both men are 5 feet, 11 inches, but Williams weighs 199 pounds, down from 243 lbs. He lost 55 lbs. over the course of a year or so. Shabazz, 52, weighs 196 lbs., but plans to weigh in at 180 lbs. at the time of the fight.
“I thought I was in better shape,” he said.
“One of the greatest things is – I think this is good for both of us. There’s no animosity and so its kind of sparring and we’ll keep it going instead of trying to kill each other.”
Williams said he heard Shabazz had boxed from the time he was six to 19 years old in Brooklyn.
“I didn’t find that out until I agreed to fight him,” he laughed. “He has significant boxing experience advantage over me.”
Shabazz admits he’s “always had my hand in boxing in one way or another from the time I was growing up as a teenager, and so the thought of participating in something like this was appetizing, to say the least.
“Boxing is a unique sport and the amount of training and physicality that’s required to get in a sport like this is amazing. Let’s let people know there are so many things we can do for our youth,” said Shabazz.
John Barber III, Chief Financial Officer of the Urban League of Philadelphia, is hoping for 8,000 people to show up Saturday, though he's expecting closer to 4,000.
“This is the first time we’re doing an event like this,” he said.
“The concept being – entertainment – an experience. People come through that door – you’re walking into a red carpet entrance when you come in. The goal was to create awareness for both the Urban League and let the youth know we care about these kids.”
Williams said he and Barber were best friends in high school.
“All through high school, he did all he could to keep me out of fights,” said Williams.
“And now, because of him, I’m in a fight at the age of 49.”