The Hans: The family that fights together, stays together

Kevin Iole
Boxing Experts Blog

There were more than a few days in which Abie Han went to school at Irvin High in El Paso, Texas, with a black eye, courtesy of a punch from his older sister, Jennifer.

A high school male would frequently be in for some serious ribbing from his friends after getting beaten up by his sister. But Abie can never remember one time anyone ever gave him grief.

"They all knew that she could kick their butts, too," he said, chuckling.

Han, 28, is now a professional middleweight boxer, with a 17-0 record and 11 knockouts. He will fight Arsenio Terrazas Saturday on a Top Rank card at the El Paso County Coliseum.

The Han family has grown up in the fighting world together. Their father, Bae Hyun Han, operates a martial arts academy in El Paso. Jennifer, 29, and Abie are pro boxers and Izzy, 24, and 21-year-old twins Stephanie and Heather are amateurs.

Saturday's show will be special for them, though, as for only the second time, Jennifer and Abie will fight on the same card as professionals. Jennifer (8-1-1 with no knockouts) lost her pro debut, drew in her second fight and has won all eight since. She'll face Claudia Gutierrez in a bout earlier on the card.

"We're always around for each other's fights, so it's not unusual in that respect," Jennifer said. "But for us to both be fighting on the same card, that's more exciting. I get more nervous watching him fight than I do fighting myself, so that's tough. But he's going to be fighting after me, so it's probably going to be tougher on him this time than on me."

Abie Han, who trains with WBA super welterweight champion Austin Trout in Las Cruces, N.M., said fighting on the card with his sister will be motivating. They used to spar together back when they were the same size and he said it helped hone his competitive instincts.

Though he was a year younger than she was, he said he was already protective of Jennifer. But he said he didn't take it easy on her -- or she on him -- when they'd spar.

"We used to spar hard, man," Abie said. "I don't like people messing with my sister, but I tried to tear her head off and she tried to take my head off when we sparred. There was no mercy. I was going through puberty and was still developing and she was much more advanced and she'd usually win.

"If you think you're a fighter and you're getting your butt handled by a girl, you have no bragging rights at all. She kept me humble. But I have to admit, it's nothing to be ashamed of because she was better than me."

Abie and Izzy used to get into it with Heather, the youngest and smallest in the family. They would compete in all sorts of horseplay and Heather would often wind up on the wrong end of things.

Abie said he was worried about Heather many times, but she was always game.

"She might be a little nuts because sometimes I worry me and my brother gave her brain damage," he said, laughing nervously. "She was such a tomboy. She was the smallest, weakest one all the time, but she had so much [courage] and so much guts. She had no fear at all. Me and my brother, we did some crazy things. We'd flip, jump off roofs. In the swimming pool, we did these crazy double back flips off the diving board. We didn't care what we did, but she was always there and did it, too. In some ways, I feel like the worst brother. I think she had like four concussions. If I could go back, I'd be more cautious. We never did anything on purpose, but she got hurt quite a bit.

"We jump off a trampoline into the pool. We did WWE wrestling moves on her. We were bad. We'd hurt her and she'd be back the next day. It's not like she can't do anything, but she got like four concussions messing and fighting with us. She's smart and intelligent. But in the future, if she gets any diseases, something mental, I'm going to feel really bad. She was so tough. But that's how we all were. We were a fighting family and that's what we did."

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