The Train is Coming!—Introducing Maurice Byarm
By: George Hanson Jr., Esq
- November 7, 2009
Full Name: Maurice Byarm
On his 1995 album Boombastic, Jamaican recording artist Shaggy collaborated with legendary crooner Ken Boothe on the chart-topping hit, The Train is Coming, the theme for the movie Money Train starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. The song is a remix of the hit penned in 1966 by the then 18-year-old prodigy, Boothe, who was backed on the original by The Wailers, Bob Marley’s band.
The Train is Coming laments an apparent jilted lover who is waiting in vain for his girlfriend to arrive at the station. On the hook, Boothe, voice smooth as silk on a swimsuit model, sings “I say the train is coming now. So long I’ve been waiting, waiting for you….” This song could very well have been written about Lionel Byarm, who lost a six-round decision to Evander Holyfield back in 1984, and his son Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm. For so long, the elder Byarm has been waiting for Maurice to “straighten up and fly right.” Wait no longer dad, because the train is coming baby…
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Byarm split his time between the homes of his father, who had legal custody, and his no-nonsense mother, Michelle Frager, a strict disciplinarian. As a youngster he would accompany his father, professional boxer and Pennsylvania light-heavyweight champion, to the gym. This developed a close bond between father and son and Byarm is the first to tell you that his father is his hero and favorite fighter because he witnessed all the hard work and sacrifices he made. Equally important, Byarm also became attached to his godfather and dad’s best friend, light-heavyweight contender Marvin “Mack Attack” Mack. To this day, these two men remain an integral part of his brain trust.
Byarm, intelligent, articulate and self-deprecating admits that in his youthful days he was a “knucklehead.” Despite two caring parents, he oftentimes found himself running with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble in his South Philadelphia neighborhood— smoking cigarettes and marijuana. He did several stints in a juvenile detention center before his waywardness was finally rewarded in 2003. Byarm was sentenced to three years in prison for drug possession with the intent to distribute.
They say that prison is a fool’s playpen or the wise man’s university. Thus began the evolution as Byarm made a commitment to change. He reflects, “I was not going to come home the same person,” and buried his head in the books while taking credits to earn a high school diploma. His senior project on literature led him to the works of author and poet Maya Angelou whose poem “Still I Rise” is Byarm’s favorite. No surprise, he earned a high school diploma with a “B+” average while competing with a fellow inmate who garnered an “A” average.
Released in 2006, the 308-pound Byarm made
his way to the Marion Anderson Recreation Center boxing gym in South
Philadelphia to lose weight while learning the sweet science for the
first time. Boxing is in his DNA because he progressed rapidly under the
guidance of his coach Rodney Rice, a thirty-something Army Veteran with
a Masters degree, who gave Byarm plenty of tough love while teaching him
the fundamentals. Byarm then moved on to the Grays Ferry Boxing Club and
further improved under the watchful eye of veteran trainer Tony Basante,
capturing two Philadelphia amateur championships while posting nine wins
against only one defeat.
As fate would have it Byarm impressed heavyweight contender Gerald “The Jedi” Nobles during their 2007 sparring session. Nobles introduced Byarm to Washington, D.C. based manager Michael Harris who took an interest in the young fighter and signed him to a managerial contract. Byarm moved to Washington, D.C. and Harris assigned him to trainer Hiawatha Summers who was able to hone his skills and adequately prepare the fighter for his transition to the punch-for-pay ranks. Under the meticulous eyes of the savvy Harris and Summers, Byarm reeled off four victories, including three knockouts, while gaining the attention of the boxing aficionados along the Beltway. The southpaw can box and packs power in both hands reminiscent of Michael Moorer, the only southpaw heavyweight champion. Despite the comparisons, Byarm readily concedes, “I haven’t developed a particular style. I can box, I can move. However, I am still working on what I am going to become.”
His goal is to maintain stability and to
continue to be a role model for his two children—Byarm has a
one-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter. He wants to win the world
championship that eluded his father. Ironically, Evander Holyfield is
one of the fighters he admires. Like Holyfield he wants to contribute
plenty to boxing and when his career is over Byarm hopes that one day
when his name is mentioned people will say, “Maurice Byarm was a beast!”
Take it away Ken Boothe:
I say the train is coming baby.
The Freight Train is coming, rolling rapidly through the heavyweight division. Stay tuned! Continue to support the sweet science and remember, always carry your mouthpiece!