Joe Taylor grew up in Lockport, New York, the son of of a professional boxer. His father wanted his son to follow him into the fight game and he did, albeit later in life than his father had envisaged.
“The best words I can use to describe my life growing up was “a struggle”. We grew up poor, but my parents always worked hard to put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads. I was in the streets doing what kids in the street do…get in trouble,” he relates.
“My father was a legendary professional boxer in upstate New York. I used to hear stories about him never dodging a fight, taking bouts on days notice and his true grit and strength along with a heart of a champion.
“He always wanted me to become a fighter, but I was too busy getting into trouble and finding myself on the other side of the law. It wasn’t until after he passed in 2013 that I decided to fulfil my fathers wishes and carry out his legacy.
“On my 26th birthday, I decided I didn’t want this life any more and I needed to make a significant change. I started an apprenticeship program in carpentry, enrolled myself in college and that was my first step.
“I then approached a local professional world champion kickboxer, Amer Abdallah, who also trained with my father. I wanted to begin fighting but he turned me away; he told me 'Come back when you're serious about this'.
“Two years went by, my father passed away and I dedicated myself to combat sports. I sat in Amer’s office and told him “I’m in 100%, this is now my life”. He set me up with a team, a trainer, a program. He also introduced and flew me out to the Mayweather Boxing Club where I come out to train with the best in the world.
“In 2013 I sent a message to GLORY kickboxing and said “I will see you soon”. Here we are, four years later, on the biggest stage in the world and living my dreams. I've won an amateur world title, national titles and Golden Gloves championships, en route to becoming the GLORY world champion, God willing.”
Taylor says that his father's passing has lit a fire under him which will drive him to the top of the middleweight division. He is thrilled to get his call-up to GLORY but also taking it in stride: “The other guys are excited to be here. I belong here. That’s the difference,” he says.
At GLORY 43 NEW YORK next week he will face fellow NY-state resident Ariel Sepulveda, a veteran of one previous GLORY appearance (he lost to Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 23 LAS VEGAS).
Both Taylor and Sepulveda are looking to stake a claim to a regular spot on the roster when they throw down next week at Madison Square Garden, as well as searching for bragging rights as the top dog at 185lbs in New York State.
GLORY 43 NEW YORK takes place at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, New York on Friday, July 14.