Basketball to Boxing … Taking the Discipline on the Court into the Ring
The list isn't long, only 15 people, but one name stands out among dual-sport athletes whose professions include boxing, with another on the horizon of doing great things. Manny Pacquiao, a name synonymous with the boxing world, was a World Boxing Association World Welterweight title holder, but did you know that Pacquiao was also a sought after basketball player in the Philippines?
That is a question that former University of New Haven men's basketball player Cassius Chaney '11 hopes people will be asking him in the near future. Chaney, was one of the top-10 basketball players to come out of Charger Gymnasium, scoring 1,893 points over his four-year career. However, soon after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management, Chaney was presented with the opportunity to play basketball professionally in South Africa or begin a whole new career as a boxer.
"I transitioned to boxing because I felt that it was the right moment for me to learn something new and take on a new challenge," said Chaney. "I didn't have a love for the sport, but I had a love for fighting and a huge interest and believe that I could be a really good fighter."
The decision to transition from the hardwood to inside the ropes has turned out to be a fantastic choice for the Baltimore native who now resides in New London, Conn. Chaney made his debut in the ring on April 17, 2015 and hasn't looked back since, holding an unblemished record of 14-0 with eight knock outs. His first ever bout came at Mohegan Sun Arena where he opened up in style with a technical knockout of Perry Filkins. Following his most recent fight in November, a knockout of Santino Turnbow in New York, Chaney is currently ranked 16th in the United States among 344 ranked boxers in the heavyweight category.
"The combination of basketball and boxing to me isn't much of a difference," said Chaney. "I would say the ability of being an all-around basketball player allows me to be elusive and constantly believe that I have the ability to approve in boxing over time."
We've all heard the commercials that say only two percent of college athletes will turn pro; so what was it that made Chaney turn to boxing? "My love for fighting and the discipline of the sport. I felt at the time that I was mature and ready to become a fighter." His record and being knocked down just twice in those 14 bouts is the only proof you need that Chaney was ready.
Chaney has been around sports his whole life, picking up a basketball for the first time as a toddler around four or five years old. A First Team All-Conference and All-State performer at Old Saybrook High School, he was recruited to New Haven out of Notre Dame Prep. Chaney would make an immediate impact for the Chargers, selected as East Coast Conference Rookie of the Year after leading the team in scoring (18.5 ppg) his freshman campaign. That season the Chargers would made a postseason appearance, qualifying for the ECC Championship. In addition to his Rookie of the Year honors, he was a three-time All-Conference honoree.
A big body at 6'6", Chaney was an inside-out player who scored the majority of his points inside of the three-point arc, but upped his game as his career expanded, finishing with 101 three point field goals over his four years. Overall, his 1,893 career points is sixth most in program history, while he is the most recent player to break into the top-eight. In addition to his scoring, Chaney is among the top-10 in the program in field goals made (5th, 728) and free throws made (4th, 336), while he finished just shy of becoming the sixth player in program history to finish with 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, closing out his career with 903 boards, seventh most in the program.
So what's next for Chaney? "Being undisputed World Champion! I do believe I'll hold a title at some point, but I look forward to the opportunity to fight for them all."