Karate techniques and tactics are being used more frequently inside the Octagon, but it’s pretty rare finding a promising boxing prospect who also has a background in a traditional martial art.

Enter Dustin ‘The White Tiger’ Fleischer, a rising, undefeated 26-year-old with a remarkable story and a very bright future.

The former Olympic hopeful made a splash earlier this year when he made his professional debut on the inaugural boxing card for Roc Nation Sports, which is co-owned by Jay-Z. After scoring a second round TKO, Fleischer was signed by Roc Nation and quickly racked up a few more wins.

The boxer also served as a training partner for fellow New Jersey native and former UFC champion Frankie Edgar for his fight against Urijah Faber in the Philippines earlier this year.

As the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, ‘The White Tiger’ draws strength from his family’s heritage, making him a force to be reckoned with inside the ring.

Check out what Fleischer has to say about his karate background, helping Edgar for his last fight, and more.

What was it like getting your first pro win in such an historic venue like Madison Square Garden?

It was really awesome. I have friends who have had actual fights, and they’re like, “You’re pro debut, you’re already fighting at the Garden!” It was really cool, man, to fight in a place where legendary fights have taken place. I was really happy, it was one of the best fights of my life.

You’re somewhat involved with the MMA community too. How’d you start working with Frankie Edgar?

The gym that he trains at, he’s like in the same area that I live at on the Jersey Shore. We know some of the same people. Frankie Edgar is my favorite MMA fighter. I just thought it’d be really cool to help him out and share the ring with him. So we sparred that one time and it was good work for the both of us, so we kept hooking up every time he had boxing sparring. Coach Mark Henry would call me and we’d sort of help him out.



What do you think about Conor McGregor taking out some of the steam from Edgar getting another title shot at Jose Aldo?

I don’t follow MMA as closely I do boxing, but I do follow it. But wasn’t he [Edgar] the legitimate No. 1 contender? Like that’s what his team is like saying, you know? I don’t really understand why he didn’t get that shot. The guy’s totally deserving of it, so, I’d much rather see Frankie in there.

How’d you get involved into martial arts, and by extension, the world of boxing?

Actually, I started in shito-ryu karate. My instructor’s name was John Gaddy. When I started when I was a kid, my mom would send me to school with bowties and suspenders and stuff. I would always come home crying because I was getting picked on. She got the idea of putting me in karate classes for just like confidence and self-defense. I met this guy John Gaddy and he really taught me such an important mental aspect of fighting. He still stays involved in my career… You could be in the best shape in the world, but if your mind’s not right, none of that’s going to matter. So I rely on that martial arts background, it’s everything. It’s just another piece of the puzzle.

Has karate influenced your actual boxing style at all, or has it only helped with your approach to the mental aspect of fighting?

My instructor, he really focused on raw power. The style is not so much like taekwondo, with all these kicks in stuff. Obviously there are a lot of kicks, but not like the spinning kicks really… When we did the kicks, it was more like raw power, nothing fancy, just take the guy out. So it’s the mechanics, the power that I have, I mean now I’m 3-0 with three knockouts. All of that is due to my martial arts background. Just the raw power and how to punch.

Did you get the nickname ‘The White Tiger’ from your karate background?

Yeah. It’s a credit to my martial arts background. It is. I think I have a unique style where I don’t really have one. I’ll fight and use the ring, I’ll come forward, I can go backwards, I can box, I can brawl. Not everyone can do that.

You’re just starting out, but you’re already signed by Roc Nation and seem to be on the rise. Do you have an endgame in mind when it comes to your boxing goals?

I want to be nothing less than a world champion. I really feel that, with all the training that I’ve put in and all my talent and all the people behind me, I’m not going to be satisfied until I have that belt. I believe in myself. It’s a dream and it’s definitely what I’m going for. I want to have a legacy in the sport to.

About The Author

Staff Writer

Matt Juul is loving college life as he pursues a career in journalism and cinema. A writer and pop culture fanatic, his interests and expertise range from arts and entertainment to the rough and tough world of mixed martial arts. Matt’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, and the New Haven Register.