Uncertain about future in boxing
By Rayman Kilgore

"He'll be done when he's 23, and can always take up boxing then"

There's always been a debate concerning if a fighter is born gifted with the skill of boxing or is made gifted with the sport after years of hard work. Tim Taggart Jr. is a classic example of this debate; at 17, he has 106 armature fights, and won many boxing trophies, yet with his ring experience and boxing skills, not only is his boxing future uncertain, but his identification as a "fighter" is foggier.

On the day of this interview, its three hours before Taggart Jr. is scheduled to leave for his part-time job at the casino in Hinckley MN. Jr.'s family is gathered in the kitchen talking with a Nurse who comes to the home to care for Jr.'s brain damaged sister; just beyond the kitchen is a wall that displays athletic awards earned by Jr., and a letter stating he has been given a full football scholarship to Saint Cloud State university where he plans to play as a wide receiver this fall.

Showed signs of early athleticism

Taggart Jr.'s boxing accolades and football scholarship comes as no surprise to his father Tim Taggart Sr. "He [Jr.] had athletic skills that started in the 7th grade." Jr. played sports ranging from: football, basketball and track and field among others; in fact, he placed 3rd in state track and field for the last two years. But more amazing is Jr.'s boxing career. By the age of 5, he had 10 armature bouts, and as stated, has 106 armature fights. Jr. took up boxing when his family lived on the Reservation in South Dakota. "South Dakota was a poor place, and the school [Jr. attended] couldn't afford to offer other sports besides basketball and boxing" says Sr. who took up boxing when he was in the army in the late 80's, and says he sparred with Wilfred Benitez's cousin who broke one of his ribs.
The move to MN advanced Jr.'s skills
Sr. says Jr.'s boxing experienced improved greatly when the family moved to MN in 1995 after deciding that doctors in MN could give Jr.'s brain damaged sister the best medical care possible. Sr., who was a police officer when the family lived in SD, and is currently a referee/judge for USA boxing, adds he never pushed his son into boxing, but admits that the father/son team clashed over training, and the ins-and-outs of boxing. Despite their differences, Jr. stuck with the sport and took 2nd place twice at the National Silver Gloves tournaments.

Where's his boxing career today?

Jr.'s boxing career is in limbo not because he doesn't have the talent to succeed in the ring, but because the 6 feet 1 185 ponder is focusing exclusively on his football career. "[His] Football scholarship is paying his full tuition, and right now he needs to focus on that" says Sr. who did most of the talking during the interview. Sr. adds, "He'll be done [with college] when he's 23, and can always take up boxing then." Both Jr. and Sr. admit Jr. has not done any serious boxing in a ring in over a year, and Jr. is uncertain what his future holds as a fighter. "If I have time
during the off season [of football], then I might take a couple of fights" says the low-key Native American star who plans to major in education at the university because of his love of math. The handsome multi-talented athlete admits he's not dating anyone seriously, and says when it comes to friends, "I try and fit them in when I can."

It's difficult to tell if Jr. got involved in boxing for the love of the sport or to please his father. It's equally tough to determine if Jr. was born a gifted fighter or made a good boxer after years of hard work; but it's clear Jr.'s plans are to focus on football because not only will football allow him to attend college full-time and earn an education, but his football scholarship might give him a future and identity that boxing might not provide since boxing is a sport where today a fighter can have an identity, and tomorrow that same identity can be taken in a blink of an eye.