Shamarian “Duke” Snider marches to his own beat in the ring.
The accomplished dancer and up-and-coming fighter likes to keep his feet moving and his opponents off-beat, all while racking up style points in the process.
The Tyler native, who also goes by the nickname “Too Pretty,” steps in the ring for his second professional fight Friday. Snider squares up with Chris Medina for a four-round cruiserweight bout at Hurst Convention Center.
“In boxing you have to be on beat and have your own rhythm,” said Snider, a three-time regional Golden Gloves champion, a two-time state champion, and a two-time national finalist. “A lot of fighters can box, but they’re not on beat.”
Before taking up boxing at the age of 22, Snider studied dancing, landing a role on the Dallas-based television show “Dance Club 21” and auditioning for a role on the movie “Step Up.”
A few street altercations, in which he handled his own, eventually directed Snider to his current career path.
“I got into a couple of rumbles in the streets, which I didn’t start but I was taking up for myself and winning those fights,” said Snider, who played football at Chapel Hill before knee injuries derailed his career. “Me being a dancer, they thought I was friendly. They thought I was weak. A lot of people tested me.”
At the urging of a friend, Snider tried out the boxing ring, a sport that quickly struck a chord.
“I fell in love with it the (first) hour I was there,” said the 26-year-old Snider, who trains at Byron Payton Gymnasium in Troup. “From there I was like I’m going to take this and roll with it. We’re going to make some money in this.”
While away from the dance floor, Snider credits his moves learned there for keeping him out of harm’s way in the ring.
“If it wasn’t for dancing, I wouldn’t be able to look as pretty in the ring when I fight,” said the charismatic fighter, who aspires to own a dancing studio after his boxing career. “The movement, having your rhythm in the ring, bending your body all types of ways, the reactions and flexibility, dancing has so much to do with boxing. If it wasn’t for dancing, I probably wouldn’t be as good as I am now.”
Shawn Vascocu, who trains Snider, also feels Snider’s ability to maneuver around punches afford him an advantage.
“He’s very fast and hard to touch,” Vascocu said. “His footwork is great. It’s hard to catch up to him. Now he’s realizing the kind of potential that he has. He’s pushing himself to make it to that next level.”
Style often determines a fighter’s success, from Floyd Mayweather’s defensive prowess to Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” tactic and Mike Tyson’s charging tendencies that made him a knockout specialist.
Snider describes his technique as unique.
“My style is different,” said Snider, who is ranked 57th nationally among cruiserweights, and 337th in the world after his first pro fight. “I like to look sexy, pretty and defined. Anybody that gets in the ring with me is mine.”
Snider signed with Standing 8 Promotions before his pro debut, and is represented by a local agent, Kristina Ross. He fought as a heavyweight as an amateur, when he compiled a 26-6 record.
He opened his pro career with a unanimous win in four round over John Shipman. Snider takes on an opponent Friday making a comeback from a lengthy absence, one trying to make his way back down near the 145-pound weight class in which he once fought.
Medina also won a pair of state golden gloves titles, not that the pedigree concerns the confident Snider.
“This is going to be an interesting fight,” said Snider, who is dedicating Friday’s fight to a friend, Keeston Fields, who died earlier in the week. “He wants to fight back at 145. Since he’s at this weight, he wants to test the waters. He’s making the wrong pit stop.”