Fearless boxer finds new life after health scare

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Story highlights

  • Andre Rozier is a former boxer turned champion coach based in Brooklyn
  • When diagnosed with high blood pressure, he thought his boxing dreams were over
  • A chance encounter with a young boxer helped channel his passion in a new way

Brooklyn, New York (CNN)Behind Andre Rozier's bright smile is an iron will to win.

"I don't like to lose," the champion boxing trainer says. "I don't like my fighters to lose."
His brusque commands to "keep moving" and "don't fold up" echo through his basement gym in Brooklyn.
"Sometimes you have to punish yourself to achieve maximum success," the New York native explains.
It is clear Rozier knows what he wants in the ring. He also knows how to push his fighters to get there.
And yet, this champion corner man never imagined life as a coach.

From fighter to corner man

Rozier began his boxing career at 11 years old in the Junior Olympics.
At 16 he qualified for his first Golden Gloves tournament. But when he went for the physical, he received disturbing news.
"I was told that I have high blood pressure," he recalls, "... and I said to myself 'what are you talking about?'"
Doctors suggested Rozier go for a walk and retake the test.
"I came back the next day and was told the same thing."
Rozier was stripped of his boxing credentials and, ultimately, his dreams of becoming a world-class fighter. Unable to compete, he hung up his gloves.
"At that point, I was like, you know what, this is it. I'm finished."
Years later, an eager young boxer pulled a reluctant Rozier back into the sport.
"I met a young man in my apartment complex who kept asking me to take him to the gym," the trainer explains. "And I would say 'no, I don't have time for it.' "
But the relentless boxer continued to pester Rozier to train him.
"He broke my shell," the corner man says with a laugh. "I wanted to break him."

Stepping back inside the ring

After stepping inside the ring with the young boxer, Rozier says "a new fire was lit" within him. He believes it was the fighter's confidence and exuberance for the sport that slowly drew him back to his first love.
"It brought me back full circle into the sport of boxing," the coach recalls. "This time as a teacher instead of student."
Rozier says he has coached more than 1 million athletes in his training career. Among his top fighters is Daniel Jacobs, who won the middleweight championship title in 2013.
"Sometimes you train an athlete for two days and sometimes you train an athlete and they are with you for the rest of their lives," he explains. "It's only because I love it."

A love that motivates

Known as "Uncle Andre," Rozier believes it is this genuine love for his boxers and the sport that makes his training special. For him boxing is a family experience.
"We are going to work hard. We are going to rise to the occasion," he says. "I love my guys so it's easy to make that happen."
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Rozier takes great pride in his role as a trainer. He says the job of a successful corner man is to give guidance, correct mistakes and lift his fighter through the bout.
"Never is there a moment ... my eye is not on the prize."
Rozier strives to prepare his fighters for any challenge inside and outside the ring
"I would like my fighters to be great human beings first and foremost," Rozier says. "Secondly, fantastically successful world champions."