Chordale Booker is Mr. Get It Done, Inside the Ring and Out


Chordale Booker doesn’t get to call himself an Olympian. In early December 2015, he just missed out on the opportunity to don the gloves and represent his country and his hometown of Stamford, Connecticut in the ring at Rio alongside the rest of America’s athletes this summer.

But that’s OK – for now.

Because Booker is Mr. Get It Done; and, well, he’s going to do just that.

Part the ropes, point him to an opponent, and Booker will knock down that obstacle.

He’s been doing it all his life.


“I always enjoyed boxing,” Booker said, adding that it was most likely his competitive nature that drew him to the sport in the first place. But it wasn’t that innate desire for competition alone.

A 2009 arrest for narcotics possession, marijuana possession and two counts of possessing a firearm, while it didn’t end in jail time for Booker – he lucked out and spent three years on probation thanks to a litany of character references offered to the judge by friends and family – became the impetus for his run away from the street and his so-called friends, and into the ring.

“There’s actually a saying that I use now for the kids that I talk to, ‘if you’re the smartest person in the group of people that you hang out with, you need a new group of friends.'”

For a long time, Booker lacked that friend, that voice in his ear that would challenge his thinking, amd push him to reach for a higher level.

But, it turns out Booker didn’t need that. Snatching his life from the gaping, depth-less jaws of a decade-plus in prison was all the wake-up call he needed.


2009 was the first time the 24-year-old Booker ever walked into a gym. His first fight, an amateur bout that he wound up on the losing end of, came a year later.

But before that, Booker was just the young pup at now-trainer Ahmad Mickens’ Revolution Training and Fitness in Stamford, trying to catch someone, anyone’s eye, even if that meant catching hands first.

“I came into the gym. I told [Mickens] I wanted to box. He never paid attention to me at all.”

But Booker, committed to the game, stuck it out. Mr. Get It Done kept coming, and when, one day, about a month after Booker’s first appearance at the gym, Ahmad asked him if he wanted a fight, Booker jumped at the chance.

It wasn’t a fight Mickens was offering though. It was a sparring show – a kind of fight-lite, wherein the combatants wear 16-ounce gloves, far larger than the eight or 10-ounce version the pros use, and no one really keeps score.

But whatever Mickens needed to see out of Mr. Get It Done, he saw. Two months later, Mickens sought Booker his first amateur bout.

Booker lost.

But Booker subscribes to the philosophy that it’s not failure as long as you learn something. And what Booker learned that day was that how you envision yourself is often far different from how things truly are.

“In my mind, I had a totally different thought of who I was and what I would do in the ring, you know? In reality, you’re not the best. You aren’t that tough. You don’t know what you’re doing. You gotta pull back around and learn the science of boxing.

“I didn’t want to be one of those people that just gives up.”

The next day, Booker was back at Revolution.

“And that was it,” Booker said, smiling in spite of himself at the inauspicious memory of how his professional boxing career got underway.


“I was like, ‘I need to win.’  I need to win so I can forget about this one loss.”

That first fight and the resulting loss stung Booker badly, even with the added value of the lesson learned. But instead of pushing him out of the ring, it only served to motivate him further. He rattled off, by his estimation, something like nine-straight victories in the wake of that loss, cementing, to him, that he really did have what it took.

But, the story of Booker’s success wouldn’t be that simple.

Booker lost his father in August of 2010. And the resulting emotion, the heart-rending disconsolation became yet another obstacle to overcome. And for a time, Booker thought he might not be able to.

“That’s when I took a real big step into boxing. It’s hard to deal with that, and I kind of just used boxing to relieve my mind of the thinking, thinking ‘why?,’ thinking of my dad. Like I didn’t have enough time with him.”

Since he didn’t start down his pugilistic path until 2009, that meant that Poppa Booker never got to see his son take part in a real, live boxing match; never got to see Booker bully his opponent, use his technical skill to work them back – back until he uncorked that final, mat-shaking delivery.

It’s a fact that fuels Booker to this day.

“He was excited to come, but he never got that chance. That’s why I feel like I went so hard into boxing.

“I needed to get that out of my head.”


The first major hurdle for Booker, at least in terms of his professional boxing career, came in the form of the USA Boxing Elite Men’s National Championships. Every year, at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Spokane, amateur boxers just like Booker come to fight their way to professional status.

Booker climbed that fist-filled mountain eventually. But only after several tries.

2013 brought Booker bronze. 2014, silver.

Booker, who had never worked with a nutritionist before, spent most of his amateur career cutting weight in an unhealthy way in order to compete in the 152-weight class. He and Mickens wanted to again compete in at 152 in 2015, but Booker unintentionally wound up in the higher class, locked up with opponents 5 or 6 pounds heavier.

Waffles, pancakes, smoothies, shakes – Booker ate everything in sight in an attempt to get himself closer to 165.

In the end, the bigger opponents forced Booker pull back farther into himself, to utilize more of his skill, more of his speed, more of his strategy and less of his size, to dispense with the bullying tactics that had been a staple of his early style. And it worked to great effect.

“You give up something,” Booker said of the jump up, “but you also get something, mainly the speed. I was faster. I could move quicker.”

2015 and that accidental jump finally brought gold and the right for Booker to call himself a pro.

“Oh man. That deal was everything to me,” Booker said. “Seriously. When you set out and say, ‘man, I’m going to get this, I’m going to get this and I’m going to do everything I need to,’ sacrificing food, sacrificing time, sacrificing hanging out, sacrificing – even the women.”

Booker gave up a lot, sure. But he got even more in return.

“After my first year in boxing, I told myself that I wanted to be the No. 1 boxer in the country. I just needed to feel that one time.”

And he did.

But even then, Booker was thinking of more, thinking about what was next. It wasn’t just about being good, after all. It wasn’t just about getting his gloves.

It was about being the best.


You don’t have to strain to hear the anger in Booker’s voice when he speaks of the 2016 Olympic Boxing Trials. Winning in Spokane got him an automatic bid for the Olympic Trials, and Booker was determined to prove he was worthy of a spot on the international stage.

“I literally felt like I couldn’t be beat,” Booker said. “I got to that place where I was so comfortable I felt like I could be in the ring with anybody.”

But again, on the cusp of more, of the success he’s so certain will someday be his, Booker lost.

Only this time, he wasn’t that young pup just looking for a taste. He was the up-and-comer with developing skills and a far greater understanding of the convoluted equation that is a professional bout.

“I think I reached a real high level of boxing in those two tournaments,” Booker said, the excitement obvious in his voice.

In fact, this time around Booker wasn’t content with his loss in the first final of the double-elimination tournament, not because it fueled him forward, but because he came away with questions.

“I really felt like I’d won the fight. I had one judge have me winning all three rounds, and the other two judges had me losing by one point. And I just don’t see how one judge thinks that I won the whole fight and then two judges think I lost one round.

“It’s just kind of messed up.”

To Booker, he was a judge – an obstacle he’d never even considered – away from the Olympics, one more step, one more barrier away from gold and the tangible proof that he really is the best of the best in the ring.


Missing out on the Games hurt. There’s no two ways about it – Booker felt pain. But Mr. Get It Done wouldn’t let that December defeat trip him up.

At first he wallowed, at first he thought “why me?”

But then that defeatist attitude morphed, became “why not me?”

“I could’ve been this guy who put PR people behind, or who they put sponsorships behind. But now I’m looking at it like I can still do these things, I just have to do them myself. Who’s to say I can’t have a better career than these guys who made it to the Olympics?”

Booker, who is also a personal trainer, spends his time away from Mickens’ gym…in the gym leading boxing classes for women. He was right back at it even harder after missing out on Rio, in the ring and out, doing whatever he can to advance a career that he’s sure is still only in its nascent stages.

“You know I’ve only had two fights, but I’m going to secure things now because I believe I’m going to be the next big star, so I want to have these things already in motion so I can be…,” Booker said, trailing off as the magnitude of what he wants to be, who he thinks he can become, formed itself in his mind.

“You know, I want to be known before I get on tv.”

Booker is 2-0 as a professional, both knockouts. Fight No. 3 comes in early July in Bethlehem, the site of his first pro bout, though the opponent is still TBD.

The end of the road isn’t in sight for Booker, but then that’s not really what he wants anyway. Asked the question posed to every fighter who ever lived, from Ali to Sugar Ray to Dempsey to Marciano, the question that scribes and pugilism pundits will attribute hours of analysis and page after page of ink to – what’s your style in the ring? – Booker can’t help but laugh.

Because his answer is a simple one. And if you’ve learned anything about Booker, Mr. Get It Done, you should probably know it already.

“I will do whatever I have to do to get it done. So if I gotta chase you to get it done, or you gotta chase me, or it’s gotta be in-between, you know, I’m just gonna do what I have to.”