Fresh off his third straight win, Dorchester boxer Donnie Palmer has his eyes fixed upward, looking to be the best boxer there is.
While in one sense, the six-foot-ten Palmer rarely looks up, in another that’s all he does. Palmer wants to turn his three wins into getting not just one title, but winning all possible heavyweight titles. “I want to be great; I want to be one of the greatest, ever,” he said.
Palmer first got interested in boxing when he saw the 2005 World Boxing Association fight between then-world champion John Ruiz and the seven-foot-tall Russian Nikolai Valuev. When Valuev won and received the multi-million dollar prize, Palmer looked at his own physique and figured he could be competitive.
Rising in the ranks as an amateur, Palmer won the Golden Gloves, the Northeastern Regionals, and the Tournament of Champions in 2008. He also came in third at the USA Eastern Regionals, finishing the year with an 8-2 record.
In 2009, Palmer joined the US Army and trained with US Olympic coaches. He completed his degree in criminal justice at the University of Colorado last spring and returned to Dorchester in August.
The next few months, he turned in victory after victory. In September, he bested Aneudy Rodriguez. In October, he beat Tyrone Smith. A week later, on Nov. 2, he knocked out Solomon Maye.
“It takes a lot to get in the ring week after week, it takes courage and training and skill at the same time,” Palmer said. “I do it because I love it. People think I’m a mad man.”
At the same time, Palmer admits he is behind, but he still believes in himself, and he is not the only one. Last weekend, Palmer met with James Ali Bashir, who has worked with current heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, a Ukrainian. “Having a Hall of Fame coach who believes in me, I feel awesome,” Palmer said. “I’m lucky and privileged.”
Boxing is far from the only thing in Palmer’s life. He works full time as a special education paraprofessional at Charlestown High School. He’s also enrolled in a master’s degree program in accounting. “It’s good to have a lot on your plate, but you have to manage it,” he said.
Originally from South Boston, Palmer loves his adopted neighborhood of Dorchester. Everyone talks to one another and there is a real sense of community, he said.