Glory Days: Lethal Leon

The video speech from Floyd Mayweather is short. “Lil Leon, we need you working hard, young champion,” he says. “Stay focused. Listen to your parents. Your grandparents. School is very important. Hard work, dedication, prayers, and belief and family, and can’t nobody stop you.”

The message is for Leon Lawson III, a 138 pound, 15-year-old from Flint, Michigan, with boxing in his blood. His grandfather is a lifelong friend of Muhammad Ali. His cousins Anthony and Andre Dirrell are both super middleweight boxers that were trained by his father, Leon Lawson Jr, who was an amateur boxer before he devoted his time to coaching. It would be strange if Lawson III wasn’t dedicating all his time to the ring.

Most mornings, Lawson III and his father get up early to run through the desolate streets of Flint. He needs to be in incredible shape if he wants to keep winning. His father wants him to become a world champion, so they only study the greats, and it seems like it’s working. He already has seven national championships under his belt and is now boxing in Junior Olympics–level events. If he wins the light welterweight crown, he’ll be heading to St. Petersburg, Russia, to represent Team USA in the Junior Men’s World Championships. It will be the biggest moment of his boxing career thus far, and he’ll be one step closer to a seemingly impossible goal.