By Stephen Tobey: Jarel Pemberton did not officially begin boxing until after he left the U.S. Marine Corps in 2013 and he did not turn pro until last summer, but from an early age, he knew he’d end up in the ring.
“I’d been in the gym since I was a toddler,” said the 26-year-old super middleweight (2-0) who will be facing Borngod Washington in his third pro bout on Saturday, April 28 at the Castleton Banquet and Conference Center in Windham, New Hampshire.
If Pemberton’s name sounds familiar it’s because his father, Scott Pemberton, was a super middleweight contender, who fought professionally from 1994 until 2006. The elder Pemberton retired with a 29-5-1 record (24 knockouts), He challenged Jeff Lacy for the International Boxing Federation 168-pound title in 2005. In 2003 and 2004, Scott Pemberton posted back-to-back victories over Omar Sheika that were ESPN2 Fights of the Year.
“In the boxing community, he still has a well-known name,” Jarel said. “He was still fighting when I was in high school.”
Jarel played football and basketball at Dartmouth (Mass.) High School. Two of his football teammates, Jordan Todman and Arthur Lynch, went on to play in the NFL.
He wanted to box in the Marine Corps, but he realized that serving in the infantry and boxing would not have been feasible. He served in two deployments in Afghanistan.
“I was a machine gunner,” he said. “My first deployment was in 2010, My second was in 2011. A lot more happened in the first one. My unit didn’t take too many casualties.”
When Pemberton finally started boxing, the time he spent around his father allowed him to go in with his eyes wide open.
“Watching him made me realize that what he did was not easy,” Pemberton said. “When he ran, I’d ride my bike along with him and he’d run 3 miles in 15 minutes. I’d go to the gym with him and see what he did.”
Pemberton lives in Boston, north of his hometown. He trains with Alex Rivera in Somerville, Mass.. Rivera helped train former World Boxing Association heavyweight champion John Ruiz and he currently trains Rashidi Ellis, the IBF’s No. 10 welterweight.
“I was working with [former junior welterweight contender] Ray Oliveira,” Pemberton said. “When I moved to Boston, he told me about Alex. Alex is like family to me.”
Pemberton fought his first two pro fights, both unanimous decision victories, with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment and Sports, his father’s promoter. He had a two-fight contract with CES. The fight on Saturday is with Boston Boxing and Peter Czymbor.
“Peter met up with me today and got me tickets,” Pemberton said. “He seems like a good guy. I was at their first show in Windham (on Jan. 28) and it was a good show with a great crowd.”
At 6 feet, Pemberton is shorter than his father and has a different style. He plans on eventually dropping to middleweight and his short-term goal is to stay as active as possible.
“I’d like to fight once every two or three months,” he said.