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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 09 2010

Virgil Hill is retired, with an asterisk

It should come as no surprise to those who have followed Virgil Hill’s boxing career. He’s 46 years old, has a bad knee and a minor infliction of carpal tunnel in his right hand.

His boxing website has been deactivated and he hasn’t fought since 2007. When asked if that means he’s retired, his response was more pointed than it ever has been.

“That’s not a bad word,” he said.

The former champion from North Dakota will probably never admit that he’s completely done. Always somebody who stays in shape, he could be eligible for Social Security and still claim to have a fight left in him. His dream, he said, is to have one last send-off bout in his home state of North Dakota.

But …

Call it retirement with an asterisk.

“I kind of enjoy what I’m doing now,” he said.

He owns his boxing gym in Galloway, N.J., called All N Conditioning and seems to be enjoying the day-to-day management of it. He works with kids as young as 5 years old with no ceiling on the maximum age.

They keep him busy. And, he says, they keep him in shape. But it’s not the same routine that made him perennially one of the most well-conditioned fighters of his time.

His record is 50-7-0 – and maybe it will go down as his final record. In his corner, he has the advantage of never really being popped silly. Of his seven losses, only two were by knockout and never once was he put down so hard that he didn’t bounce back in quick order.

“Fortunately, I never really had a bad fight where I really got beat up,” he said. “Outside of a cut or something like that, I never had anything real serious.”

Hill attributes that to his counterpunching style and the head didn’t take many punches until later in his career when his quickness came into question.

“That was a bad sign,” he said.

There was plenty of minor stuff, such as the bad knee. He tore the meniscus in his knee four days before his next-to-last fight against Henry Maske in Germany (something he never publically disclosed before).

He could still move during the fight, “but not a lot, just enough,” he said.

He underwent surgery to repair it in Germany after the fight, which was a 12-round loss by unanimous decision. He lost three of his last four bouts.

“The market is so soft now,” Hill said. “I doubt anything could happen unless it was over in Europe.”

He doesn’t have a manager, saying he did most of that duty his last few fights. The training team that he used for so many years, including Al Larsien who lives in Fargo, is spread across the country.

“Al and I have a strange relationship,” Hill said. “We may not have seen each other for five years but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.”

It’s very doubtful they’ll pick up their relationship in the boxing ring. Call it like it is:

Virgil Hill is retired*.



Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546