Adrian ‘Ziggy’ Washington to vie for world title in the boxing ring
Life hasn’t managed to knock out Adrian “Ziggy” Washington, and he isn’t about to let it happen now.
The 36-year-old professional boxer of Chambersburg is striving to become a world champion, and he will get his shot on Sept. 10 when he fights Charles Johnson for the USBF World Cruiserweight Title. You don’t want to miss Washington’s fast feet and Spidey-like senses in the ring during this match, which will be held at the Quantum Sports Center, 419 58th St. SE in Charleston, West Virginia. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first bell at 7 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased by messaging promoter Brian Lee of BLee Management via his Facebook page, @BLeeManagement; through their Back to Business2 Facebook event posting; or through Washington via his Facebook page, @Ziggy.Montana.5.
The match is also available for home viewing through: f55live.com.
‘Mama said knock you out’
Washington began his boxing career when he was in his mid-20s and boxed as an amateur for several years. The two-time amateur Golden Gloves winner didn’t give his first three professional opponents – Tre Baker, Hassan Haggler and Jason Carroll – a chance in the ring. His record is 3-0, with either a KO or TKO in the first round of each fight.
“I just get lucky,” he quipped, followed by his contagious laugh.
Washington has been training hard with his team since June to prepare for the title fight. Washington knows Johnson will be a tough opponent but has no doubt he will bring the title to Chambersburg.
“If I don’t get to knock him out right away, I can show those boxing skills in the ring. He has lost, and he’s never fought me before. If it doesn’t happen in the first round, we will fight the whole fight. Our ultimate goal is to leave there with that title. If we stick to our gameplan, I think it will allow us to be victorious,” he said.
Washington is dedicating this fight to his grandmother, Alice Elizabeth Moore.
“My grandmother has dementia,” he explained. “I changed my trunks this year for her. I usually have ‘Ziggy’ on the front and ‘AZW’ on the back. My trunks now have ‘AEM’ on the back in honor of her.”
Through the ranks
Washington grew up in Chambersburg. He and his brother, Kyre, were raised by their mother, Linda Moore, who often worked three jobs just to provide for her sons without their father, also named Adrian, who had left when Washington was young. Washington shared he and his father are back in each other’s lives now, and he considers him one of his best friends.
In school, Washington always enjoyed playing sports, particularly football and basketball. He relocated to New Jersey with his uncle when he was a freshman, and he continued playing sports.
Washington appeared on his childhood friend DJ Rello’s Connected Sound podcast in July, where Rello talked about Washington’s influence in his passion for music. Washington dabbled in rap under the name Ziggy Montana, and even cut a deal with Jaz-O. He told Rello he thought he would become a star, but the career path didn’t quite work out the way he had hoped, so he stopped making music.
The aspiring athlete also developed a love of boxing while in high school and would box with his uncle. However, he said his mother was against him fighting, especially while he was playing football.
Following high school, Washington admits he didn’t always make the right choices. When he was 21, Washington was sent to jail, where he served 14 months. Once he completed his sentence and probation, he moved to Lancaster with his son, Tymire.
Life issued some more blows to Washington after he moved to Lancaster. Though he was working two jobs, he couldn’t make ends meet and became homeless for a few months. His girlfriend (now fiancée, Darlene Reyes) helped him care for Tymire while Washington lived in his car, freezing to conserve his gas just to make it to work the next day.
“At that point, I was getting calls from my mother, my uncle, the people I hold closest to my heart, telling me I needed to get a steady job and stop pursuing the boxing thing. But I wouldn’t listen. I love my mother dearly, but she’s never pursued a boxing career,” he laughed.
Washington unsurprisingly bounced back and was able to find a home for himself and Tymire.
He continued to play arena football following his move to Lancaster and became injured. He admits he had gained weight, pushing 300 pounds at his heaviest.
When Tymire was about 5 or 6 years old, Washington said his son became obsessed with boxing.
“I’m not sure why, but we used to watch Floyd Mayweather fights as a family, and he really wanted to go to the boxing gym,” he said. “He’s a good kid, so I took him, and he started to get really good. I had been injured at the time and was overweight, and I thought I would start to hit the bag to get back in shape.”
No turning back
One day, at Barry Stumpf’s boxing gym in Lancaster, a heavyweight fighter came in from the Harrisburg area, and the staff asked Washington if he would spar with him.
“They told me he would take it easy on me, and I said, ‘I know how to fight!’ So, I started sparring with him and I knocked him down. Barry asked me if I had ever fought before, and I said no. He told me to come in at 7 a.m. the next day, and I never looked back,” he recalled.
Washington credits Stumpf for giving him the confidence to vie for a world title. He admitted to Rello that Stumpf believed that he could win the Golden Gloves competition, and eventually a world title, which, in turn, made him believe it.
Stumpf said Washington “went through a lot of challenges in life, except the dice, he just kept rolling a 7.”
“It’s not where you are in life, it’s what you do with your life. He worked hard and did whatever he could to take care of Tymire, and I respect him very much for that,” he added.
Stumpf said one of the most outstanding amateur matches he has seen was between Washington and Sonny Conto at the Golden Glove State Championship in Philadelphia about six years ago. Though Washington was defeated by Conto, he still put up one heck of a fight.
“What Adrian was lacking in boxing, he wasn’t lacking in heart,” Stumpf added. “He got knocked down, but kept getting back up and there was nothing that was going to keep him down.”
During his amateur career, Washington tore his rotator cuff and took two years off. After he returned, he continued to push himself and entered professional boxing.
“I went in and asked Barry if he wanted to fight in the amateurs again, and he told me no, and that I was ready to go professional,” Washington noted.
When Stumpf suffered injuries in a recent accident, Washington was signed by Brian Lee of BLee Management in West Virginia. The rest of Washington’s team includes coach Curt Barrington and local MMA fighter Scott Dirkson, who does his pad work.
Local businesses like Patriot FCU, Boost Mobile, Ghost Writer LLC and Rival Boxing have sponsored Washington to help cover his fight expenses for travel and equipment.
‘Getting strong now’
Washington wakes up between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. to begin his training regimen. He does 200 reps each of pushups, sit-ups and squats before running 3 to 5 miles. After his run, he has breakfast and rests before heading to the Chambersburg Fitness Center, where he serves as a trainer, or to train with his team in Reading.
He's been compared to Mike Tyson, though his boxing role models are Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward.
“Those two are by far my most favorite in the world. Those guys are considered boring fighters. When people think of boxing, they think it’s two guys banging it out in the ring. But the goal is to hit and not get hit. Those guys live by that. George Foreman once said that boxing is like jazz. ‘The better it is, the less people appreciate it.’”
Washington also noted that Foreman was the oldest heavyweight champion when he was in his mid-40s.
“It’s all the determination of the person and how you work. I always say it’s 80 percent mental.”
In a Nov. 5, 2020, Instagram video, Washington is seen running in the frigid cold at 4:30 a.m.
“You wanna be somebody, you grind!” he advises his followers.
Though he dances with the best of them, and ducks punches with ease, Washington is still nervous before a fight -- even though his amateur record is 19-2.
When he was ready for his first pro fight against Tre Baker, Washington admits he was pretty anxious.
“But when I knocked him out in the first round, I thought, ‘OK. I’m still pretty good. Maybe we can do something.’”
Washington’s social media is peppered with uplifting videos of his work, both in and outside of the ring. His Fight Club Fitness class at the Chambersburg Fitness Center is gaining ground but is postponed until after his big fight. ‘Gonna fly now’
Washington and his team are always eager to give back to the community and support various charities throughout the state, and give back to those who have supported him over the years.
“Our goal is to always give back,” he said. “I want to be able to do that for my children, and for children who don’t have that luxury. It’s a big deal to me. If I am in this position and I’m not giving back, I shouldn’t be in this position. It’s still strange to me when people ask me for my autograph. I’m just super regular, and I will remain humble even when I’m making millions. One kid told me he wants to be a boxer now. Even if I leave an impact on just one kid, I’ve done what I came to do.”
“He’s put himself together and he’s looking good in the gym right now,” Stumpf said. “There are better things to come. He’s worked hard and straightened his life out. He has a job, he’s raising his children and he’s out of trouble. He made a turn in life, a right turn. He’ll succeed in life; that’s the most important part. What he will accomplish in the ring, that’s all a bonus.”
Washington’s going to keep working hard and pushing to be the best athlete and role model he can be.
He said if he brings the title to Chambersburg, it will mean everything. “It will literally change the dynamic of my life,” he added. He even joked with Mayor Kenneth Hock that he will require a key to the city, and jokingly asked if Washington Street could be named for him.
In the meantime, Washington’s going to rise early and stare at his inspiration – a piece of paper he wrote on when he was 26 that reads: “You will be world champion.”
“That’s my motivation. You gotta have something to motivate you.”