Tor Hamer: Uptown Fighter

“White-collar boxing is keeping Gleason’s open,” owner Bruce Silverglade had said. Gleason’s motto is, “You don’t have to smell good to train here.” Despite the fact that he’s a graduate of Penn State, is well off, and comes from a good family, 25-year-old native New Yorker Tor Hamer is not only the country’s number-one ranked amateur super-heavyweight, but also the anti-Rocky (sorry, Philly). Towering over his posse (preppy kids from the UES, the Gossip Girl types) at 6’2’’ and pushing 230 pounds, this charmer with a baby face (still intact — he’s yet to get hurt, not even the boxer-trademark black eye) has a misleading mug for a bona fide boxing champ and party boy. Hamer’s other homes, besides the ring (he trains six days a week, for three hours straight) are “exclusive” nightclubs: Bungalow, Tenjune, Southside, and the Box. His longtime friend is Southside’s resident DJ, Nick Cohen, who’s dating Keith Richards’ daughter. “You’d think I ‘d get laid more often,” Hamer says.

He’s talkative and charismatic, which is part of the appeal amongst white-collar boxers — those who need not come from the street to become a big deal in the boxing world. When Hamer practices at Gleason’s, he’s constantly bombarded by a crowd around the ring: other fighters who gape in awe. He has only been fighting pro for two years. “He doesn’t need a stage name. The guy’s name is fucking Hamer!” boasts one of his fellow glove-buddies.

Hamer’s a two-time New York Golden Gloves winner and an Empire State Games champion; this past summer; he avenged his sole defeat to become the National Golden Gloves champion.

In boxing, the typical story is of a rags-to-riches, street-life kid who fights his way from the streets to the ring, but in Hamer’s case, it was the opposite. What makes Hamer’s story novel is that he could have very easily landed a solid job. His father is a Harvard-graduate top-dog at the Board of Ed. Hamer even resides in a swank, bacheloresque apartment uptown. This isn’t to say that he isn’t a businessman — he’s in the midst of a business deal with Gleasons’s owner, Silverglade, to buy the gym.

Though educated at Manhattan’s top-tier private schools, he ended up at my public alternative high school, Urban Academy, after being mistakenly charged with stealing laptops at Trevor Day. I can’t help but remember he had a chauffeur and a preppie posse waiting for him when class was dismissed. Everyone was intimidated by Tor, even the teachers. “He’s 230 pounds now? Wasn’t he the same at sixteen?’’ commented our former English teacher.

“Boxing is my outlet,” Hamer says. “I don’t need to have a temper outside the ring.” But that doesn’t mean he won’t get a little aggro when it suits him. At Southside a few weekends ago, he was in line at coat check when a waify brunette, a tenth of his looming frame, inched in front of him. “Move over, you cow!” Hamer yelled. At that point, she turned to the exit sign and left the club. He then strode up to DJ Nick Cohen’s booth and demanded that Cohen play music other than Billy Joel. His wish was granted. Satisfied, he stepped into the VIP area, where another petite, preppy girl fell into his lap, along with a glass of Hennessy. “This is how I roll,” he remarked, satisfied.

Photo: Adam Taki
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