Karim Mayfield: From the boxing ring to cannabis dispensary owner

Karim Mayfield (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Karim Mayfield (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Karim Mayfield has 12 years of professional boxing under his belt but is entering the cannabis business with his San Francisco dispensary Authentic 415. 

For most of his adult life, Karim Mayfield has made his living delivering and absorbing punches in the ring, but he has a new gig with the help of a system that has also hurt him in numerous ways.

Mayfield (21-5-1, 11 KOs) grew up in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. Life wasn’t easy for Mayfield, and his family struggled through financial hardships at times, but he was a pretty normal 18-year-old kid back in 1998. He liked to play sports and hang out with friends.

However, one fairly innocuous day with friends turned into a scarlet letter moment for Mayfield that damaged his reputation and added sorrow to him and his family.

Mayfield finished up playing basketball with friends at a local area gym. The group decided to smoke some marijuana in one of their cars. Recreational cannabis use is decriminalized and legal in California today for those 21 years of age and older, but that wasn’t the case in 1998.

Mayfield was at the wrong place at the wrong time when a police car pulled up and saw smoke emanating from the car. They pulled the young men out, searched them, and found cannabis. Somehow, most of the charges fell on Mayfield, who had never been in trouble with the law. It wasn’t even his car.

“Cops came, pulled up, must have seen the smoke coming out of the vehicle, decided to take everyone out the car, and did the basic search,” recounted Mayfield to FanSided. “Patted them down. And we actually had cannabis. All of us had cannabis on us, but for some reason, they decided to put the cannabis on me.”

One bad decision got young Mayfield into more trouble than he ever imagined. The police inexplicably put the bulk of the blame on Mayfield despite this being his first offense. They found some baggies in the back of the car and stacked more charges onto Mayfield.

Despite rarely ever smoking, Mayfield was charged and later convicted of possession of sales and possession with intent to sell. The charges were misdemeanors, but it became a part of Mayfield’s permanent record and required him to spend a month in jail. The stigma attached to a drug offense is what hurt Mayfield and his family the most.

“For me to be busted on that day and to be busted for smoking and then go down for possession of sales, it was horrible,” said Mayfield. “Not only did it tarnish my record, but it, just in my family’s eyes, it made me look like an idiot, so to speak. And just this overall wasn’t a good look. As far as employment, it was definitely difficult for me to find employment. I was actually a coach for football, and I was turned down due to my record of cannabis.”

At 20 years old, Mayfield found boxing late in life but showed immediate talent. He plugged away as an amateur for years, becoming a Golden Gloves champion in San Francisco and performed well during the 2004 Olympic trials.

Karim Mayfield ventures into the cannabis business 23 years removed from a marijuana conviction

In 2006, Mayfield turned professional and pursued a career that saw him win several minor titles. He was a highly touted junior welterweight prospect who accrued wins over notable opponents like Francisco Santana, Steve Forbes, and Mauricio Herrera.

Mayfield made a name for himself with his aggressive, come-forward style. He was always willing to exchange with all comers in the ring. Mayfield had faith in his abilities and trusted his punches could do more damage than those of his opposition.

A few inopportune decision losses kept Mayfield from challenging for a major world title, but he’s loved by his hometown city and regarded as a local legend. Mayfield was never stopped, which is a testament to his toughness.

Mayfield last fought in 2018, but at 40 years old, he still has the desire to box.

“I was supposed to make a comeback in 2020, but COVID hit, and that just derailed everything,” revealed Mayfield. “But, I still do have that itch.”

While Mayfield awaits a return to the boxing ring, fate proved to be ironic as he’s now the owner of a cannabis dispensary called Authentic 415 in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco.

As California’s marijuana laws became more progressive, San Francisco created a government program called the Cannabis Equity Program. It looks to offer some sense of compensation to those who were previously impacted by a marijuana conviction. Mayfield’s friend serendipitously told him about the program and that he might be a candidate.

“About three years ago, a friend of mine had mentioned that they were opening up this equity program in San Francisco called San Francisco equity and that I might actually be able to be an applicant,” said Mayfield.

Mayfield’s application was approved, which helped him enter the cannabis business, and he received assistance from a company called the Shryne Group. With their help and partnership, Authentic 415 is open and fully operational today, with Mayfield at the helm.

Mayfield’s tale is one that appears to end with hope and a sense of redemption, but there is also an unresolved abundance of grief. In 2018, Mayfield’s younger brother, Sahleem Tindle, was shot killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer. He was 28 years old at the time of his death.

Mayfield and his family sued the BART police and won a $6 million judgment. You would think that would be the end of a tragic story, but the pain continues for Mayfield and his family. According to Mayfield, the BART police thought the judgment was too much money and attempted to renegotiate the amount, effectively refusing to abide by a court’s ruling. Instead of $6 million, they only wanted to pay $1 million, Mayfield told FanSided.

“So we went to go see a mediator,” said Mayfield as he fought back the tears. “It was just last week in Oakland between the district attorney, I believe it was, and my family. They came back with the first offer, and they’re like, well, the new year, this is what they want to offer you from $6 million, this is what they want to offer now. She slid us a paper that said $1 million. It was an insult.”

Mayfield and his family are looking at the possibility of years of litigation to enforce the original court’s ruling, but they’re dedicated to fighting for Sahleem.

As he did in the ring, Mayfield has to fight. His new dispensary is a victory, but his family’s battle for Sahleem is ongoing. Mayfield has never backed down from a fight, and he’s not going to start now.

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