Many boxers come from a background filled with street crime and gang life where boxing was the only option to keep them off the streets, out of prison or alive.
This life story includes the very same background but in between the street life and the boxing insert two years in Afghanistan with the US army then you end up with the life Steven ‘So Cold’
Nelson can look back on.
“As a child I was into technology and mechanics. I would take things apart to see how they worked or make them work in other ways. I was also good at art and would draw and paint pictures.”
“I wasn’t into sports and never really played them because every time I would join a sports team I would get kicked off for my behavior. I still to this day don’t like watching sports, but I catch certain fights that are interesting to me.”
Growing up wasn’t easy for Nelson, a victim of his own surroundings and his ever-eager nature. He told FightTalk.net about his trials and tribulations through adolescence.
I grew up in a rough neighborhood so as I grew into my teenage years I made friends with people in the wrong crowd. Long story short, I started to get into a lot of trouble and street fights, which developed into more dangerous things like gang fights and shootings. I was a shooting victim myself. By age 18 even my own family didn’t want to be around me because everywhere I went I would get into alterations. I knew I had to make a life change because I was going down the wrong path and I was smart, so I didn’t want to waste my abilities.”
“I joined the military May 2007 as a satellite communications specialist, then I deployed to Afghanistan from June 2008 to March 2009. When I first joined the military I was 250 lbs then I got down to about 200 in the Army. After I returned to America from deployment I partied and ate a lot of good food because I missed a lot being overseas in war. I visited home Christmas of 2009 and all my family were telling me how I got back out of shape and gained all the weight back that I lost when I first joined the military. When I returned back to my duty station, January 2010, I thought to myself, ‘I have to do something interesting to keep me in shape because I’m tired of the regular army physical training’.”
What started out as generic cardio and a desire to lose weight spiralled into a career Steve himself had not anticipated. His progress in the amateur game amazed onlookers and he told me about his rise to Olympic alternate.
“I went to a local boxing gym, ABC Boxing Academy in Fayetteville NC, and started training there. Within a week the coach noticed that I was a natural in boxing and worked hard. I began competing within a month of my initial training. By 2012, I went to All Army competition with 4 fights, won the tournament, went to Armed forces and won, then went to the Olympic trial reloads with 8 fights and got all the way to the finals. I lost a controversial decision, but was blessed enough to go to London as an alternate and experience the Olympics in person.”
Even though by his own admission he is not a sports fan he able to boast of 50 wins in 55 amateur bouts Nelson was clearly very talented.
“My amateur career was very fast paced and special in its own way. I won every national tournament the US has to offer and I competed in every major international tournament except the Olympics, but I had the experience from going to the 2012 Olympics as a training partner.”
In the punch for pay ranks thus far, ‘So Cold’ is undefeated winning all of his 9 fights but it’s his entrances that get so many people talking. Best known for in his last bout coming out dressed as Hannibal Lecter this particular ring walk went viral over social media.
“Growing up I always would imagine being certain characters from my favorite movies and TV shows. So now that I have a stage I’m on and people that are watching me, I use my imagination to entertain them and make them interested in watching me all through my career. I make my own uniforms so I can make them exactly how I like using my imagination and artistic skill.”
What’s next for Steven Nelson?
“Right now I haven’t gotten any word on upcoming dates for fights, but I want to at least get to 10-0 by the end of this year. I will just continue to train, continue my college courses and commission myself out to paint a few portraits.”
Creative minds often think two steps ahead. It would appear for Nelson, a career inside the squared circle could prove colourful and financially rewarding. The internet and the boxing community watches on.
Interviewed and written by James Lupton.