O’Shaquie Foster: From tragedy and violence to triumph

O'Shaquie Foster (Photo by Dave Mandel-SHOWTIME)
O'Shaquie Foster (Photo by Dave Mandel-SHOWTIME) /

O’Shaquie Foster headlines Dibella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing event on Dec. 5. Foster’s road to main event status was plagued with tragedy and trauma.

On Thursday, Dec. 5, super featherweight contender O’Shaquie Foster (16-2, 10 KOs) headlines DiBella Entertainment’s Broadway Boxing event. A win against Alberto Mercado (16-3-1, 3 KOs) could help him inch closer to a title shot. Foster has come a long way from the troubles that surrounded him in his hometown of Orange, TX.

The town of about 19,000 people in east Texas is not without its problems. Nearly 23 percent of Orange residents live below the poverty line, according to the 2010 Census data. The median income for a household in Orange is $29,519.

Where there’s poverty, typically violence and drug abuse follow. Orange isn’t immune to this relationship.

“It’s a small town,” said Foster to FanSided about his hometown. “If it’s not football people are [using] to get out [Orange, TX], then it’s just jail and on the streets.”

Life in Orange was difficult for Foster from a young age. However, he discovered a sanctuary from his environment in the sport of boxing.

“When I was eight years old, I followed my cousin to the boxing gym,” recalled Foster. “From that day on, I stuck with it. I was the last man standing. Everybody else ended up quitting. I just stuck with it, and I was natural to it.”

He excelled as a pugilist, but life continued to surround him with trauma. Foster’s mother died of cancer when he was 12 years old. She was the most important person in his life, and he struggled greatly with her loss emotionally. However, he felt compelled to stay strong for his siblings.

“When I lost my mother, it was a hard time in my life,” said Foster thoughtfully. “Just being that I was so young and I was actually in the house when she passed. Me and my older brother was watching her as she passed. That was rough on me.

“I brought my momma my first belt after I won the national title. I kept winning them after that. The day of her funeral, I went and fought and won the Golden Gloves in memory of her. I just try to stay strong for my brothers. I knew I was the backbone. I just tried to keep a game face and stayed focused.”

Foster showed tremendous resolve by boxing despite the loss of his mother. He used his pain as inspiration, but he was still just a child. No one is ready to deal with such a devastating loss, but the impact is amplified tenfold on the psyche of a child.

Without his mother, Foster lacked guidance and relied on his wits. He had a successful amateur career and turned professional in 2012. Foster won his first eight fights but lost his 9th. In reality, he lacked dedication to his craft.

Foster didn’t have a stable workout routine after his local gym closed. Also, his environment started to take its toll on his career.

“It was definitely a lack of focus,” admitted Foster. “I was literally still in the streets and trying to manage boxing at the same time. It just wasn’t working.”

Life on the streets became an integral and toxic ingredient in Foster’s existence. He lost his 12th bout by split decision. Foster was being led down a dangerous path. He was also severely distracted by the loss of his close cousin just four days before his second loss.

“My closest cousin died like four days before my second loss,” said Foster. “I had problems with my promoter. It put a lot of stress on me. I just wasn’t focused.

“His name is Jimmy Franks. We grew up since, like babies. He’s my first cousin. He got killed out here in Houston. He got shot in the head.”

The violence that surrounded Foster took away a dear loved one, but its vortex engulfed him. In March of 2017, Foster was arrested for aggravated assault. He spent several months in Orange County Jail.

Foster recalled a particularly harrowing night in jail during the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey to The Sweet Science in July. It was his rock bottom. He realized that his talent was languishing and his potential wasting away. Foster decided to make a change.

After getting out of jail, he left Orange, moving to Houston to train with Bobby Benton. Foster loves his hometown but understands collateral damage comes from poverty and violence.

Since then, Foster hasn’t lost a fight. He’s riding a five-fight winning streak and knocked out his last two opponents. Mercado is his next challenge, but Foster is confident he will win. He’s driven by the fear of wasting his opportunities.

“My biggest fear is to not live up to my potential, not to reach my full ability in life,” said Foster.

With a new perspective on life, Foster looks like he has left his tragedies behind and is destined for a triumphant future.

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Foster fights Mercado on Thursday, Dec. 5. You can watch the bout on UFC Fight Pass. Their broadcast begins at 8 p.m. ET.