IT’S in the blood. Tevin Farmer is a direct descendant of Joe Gans, one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. In 1902 Gans became the first native-born black American to win a world title. He is the great great uncle of the new IBF super-featherweight world champion Tevin Farmer.
“I didn’t always, always know but I’ve known for a long time. I just never brought it up because I felt it wasn’t going to help me, it wasn’t going to make or break me. Now that I’ve made a name I guess it was okay for me to say it,” Farmer said.
Now he has won a world title himself. “I feel it’s part of my destiny. That’s exactly what I feel like.”
But achieving that destiny was far from inevitable. Farmer had to rally from defeats, face contentious decisions and come through a long career to reach his championship.
It began inauspiciously with a loss, a stoppage loss no less, in his first fight. “I was beating the guy [Oscar Santana]. I beat the guy every round. The fourth round came, he threw a couple of punches and I didn’t throw back and they stopped me,” Tevin lamented.
Farmer, who’d had only 16 amateur bouts after beginning boxing at 19, received an early introduction to the harsh realities of boxing. “I didn’t have a team behind me, I didn’t have a promoter, I didn’t have a manager,” he said. “I was just taking fights… One day I said damn I’ve got to step it up.”
His last loss, of four, came against Jose Pedraza, now the WBO lightweight champion, back in 2012. “That’s a fight I would definitely like to have again. I would move up to 135lbs to fight him,” Farmer adds.
After Pedraza, he would then go on a winning running run that carried him to a world title fight with Kenichi Ogawa, only for the latter to receive a contentious decision. “There was a lot of disappointment. What can you really do? I just knew that I had to get back in the gym and give it my all. I knew that I would become a world champion if I did that and I did that and became world champion,” Tevin said.
It would emerge that Ogawa failed a drug test. Farmer had to turn this to his advantage. “This is my opportunity,” he thought. “I can get another chance at the world title. This time I’m going to give it my all.”
“I was always the B side fighter, I was never the A side fighter. The cards have always been stacked against me,” he explained.
“I’ve always been determined. That’s why I was able to deal with it. I was determined to be the best.”
He had to travel to Australia to fight Billy Dib for the vacant belt. He could not let this slip. “I was comfortable the whole way through. He tried to make it uncomfortable for me but I’m a veteran. I know what needs to be done to win fights,” Farmer said.
He received a wide unanimous decision, this time in his favour. “I was happy inside but I had this feeling like it was overdue. I knew that I deserved it. It wasn’t as happy as it would have been if I’d have got it the night I fought Kenichi Ogawa,” Tevin said. “It’s feels good. I’m feeling good, ready to make my defence.”
He will make his first world title defence against Northern Ireland’s James Tennyson in Boston on October 20. “I’m going to make him look stupid like I do everyone else. Make him look stupid, make him look dumb,” he said. “It’s no different.
“I want to fight everybody. However they come. However they come, I’m taking them.”
Farmer concluded, “It’s been hard, it definitely has. A lot of people don’t understand how I did it. I really didn’t think too much of it. I just put the work in.
“I never thought about quitting. I never thought about quitting in my life. I would never quit. If I’m going to stop doing something or go out, I’m going to go out on top.”