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Friday, December 7, 2012
Garris to turn pro at age 47

By Michael Woods

I could be wrong, but I do believe Rob Garris, a 47-year-old resident of Mount Vernon, will set a world record tomorrow night at Resorts World Casino in Queens.

Garris will make his professional boxing debut, 27 years after he last fought.

The late-to-the-party super middleweight is a barber by trade, but runs a foundation, the Throwaway Kids Foundation,  to help out foster kids. His last fight came in 1985, in the NY Golden Gloves. A chipped bone in his nose kept him from the ring, and he got married, had three kids, and has been busy making a living since then.

But Garris has in the last few years fought in exhibitions, to raise money and keep the spotlight on foster kids who fall in between the cracks. Not long ago, he met George Foreman, who encouraged him to get a license and fight. Foreman, you might recall, left the ring in 1977, and then came back to the sport in 1987. "He told me to surpass his record," Garris told NYFightBlog. "Nobody ever came back after 27 years, amateur to pro."

The New York State Athletic Commision, Garris said, asked him to do test after test, to make sure he was physically fit, and he passed those hurdles, so he will face off with another graybeard, 38-year-old Abdellah Smith of Queens, on a card promoted by Felipe Gomez. "He's a brawler, I'm a boxer, so it'll be like Ali-Frazier," said Garris, who told me he had a 66-3 record as an amateur.

A foster kid himself, Garris helps foster kids find their blood relatives. He met his father for the first time in 2004, and might see his mom, who he said gave him up into foster care, for the first time on fight night. One of his brothers told him he's trying to get mom, who Garris said hasn't fully come to terms with the circumstances, to come to the casino.

Garris is raising funds to buy headstones for foster kids who were killed by their minders, and are buried in potter's fields.

"I'm doing this to inspire the foster kids, to believe in themselves that anything is possible," the comeback kid told me.

Follow me on Twitter here!/Woodsy1069.