Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight champion Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin has taken a circuitous route to stardom, from running the mean streets of Grand Rapids (MI), to living on the floor of his friend’s apartment in New York City for survival, culminating as a member of an elite club as world champion.
The son of a Cuban father and African-American mother, Peter is a fan-friendly fighter who tosses small chocolates into the crowd after his fights, and uses social networking to his advantage as much as any professional boxer today.
Quillin got his nickname, “Kid Chocolate,” from somebody who told Peter he looked like the original “Kid Chocolate,” Eligio Sardinias-Montalbo, a Cuban fighter inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Quillin’s father, Pedro, was a butcher in Cuba who used to illegally sell meat on the side at a bargain price, at least until he was caught by authorities under the communist regime of Fidel Castro, and sentenced to 13 years in prison. On June 2, 1980, Castro released imprisoned Cubans, including Pedro, who was on the second-to-last last boat seeking freedom in the United States, as depicted in the movie, Scarface.
Pedro found his way to Chicago, where Peter was born, but his father was a hustler and that lifestyle eventually caught up with him. Six months after his birth, Quillin’s family, including his older brother, Craig, relocated in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Peter’s two younger brothers were born. Pedro’s chicken shop was raided and he was sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for money laundering. Peter’s mother, Deborah, was left to care for four sons and their family immediately went on welfare. Craig acted as Peter’s father when Pedro was incarcerated.
Boxing, though, turned out to be Peter’s salvation. With only a few bucks in his pocket and a dream, 18-year-old Peter decided to move to New York City to pursue his boxing career, as well as escape from the black hole in Grand Rapids that he was about to fall into. His first job in the Big Apple was working in a live butcher shop in Chinatown unloading trucks of chickens. The trainer he had moved with to New York City’s Lower East Side, believing Peter wasn’t taking his boxing career seriously, ended-up chasing Peter out of his apartment with a hammer He didn’t realize that Peter had to work to survive, which limited the amount of time he could dedicated to boxing during that time. Peter lived for a period in a homeless shelter.
Sitting alone on a train going from the Bronx to Manhattan, a tearful Quillin had nothing but the clothes on his back and that same dream to become world champion. Fortunately for Quillin, his friend, Steven Rivera, allowed Peter to sleep on the floor of his Lower East Side apartment for three months, until Peter was able to rent his own apartment in Brooklyn where he lived for four years.
At one point, Quillin maintained three jobs as a host at IHOP and working in a Lower East Side butcher shop, as well as training and working at the Eastern Athletic Club in Brooklyn, thanks to a recommendation from a former worked champion, Jose Torres.
Quillin had an abbreviated amateur career, totaling only 15 fights, but highlighted by his win at the Ringside Nationals as a novice in the 156-pound division.
In 2002, he started working with Colin Morgan, who trained former world champions Wayne Braithwaite and Andrew Lewis, as well as Larry Donald. Quillin turned pro on June 9, 2005, stopping Anthony Hunter in the opening round, and he hasn’t looked back. In his fourth pro fight, Peter won a four-round decision against Tomas Padron (2-3-2) in the only fight of Quillin’s that went the distance.
In New York City, Quillin met Wall Street broker John Seip, who along with Jim McDevitt, has managed Peter throughout his professional career. He won eight fights in a row by knockout, in order, against Eddie O’Neal (KO1), William Prieto (KO1), 8-1 Brad Austin (TKO2), 10-9 David Estrada (TKO1), 20-14 Steve Walker (KO1), 8-6 Nathan Martin (TKO2), 13-4-1 Alexander Pacheco Quiroz (TKO1) and 9-3-1 Victor Paz (TKO2). He then went the full distance during that stretch for a win by eight round decision against 7-1 Jamal Davis.
Quillin kept rolling along in 2007 with victories versus Jose Humberto Corral (KO1), Jesse Orta (DEC6), and Troy Lowry (TKO2). The beat continued despite marked improvements in the quality of his opponents, starting with a second-round stoppage of Thomas Brown, followed by a dominating 10-round decision against world title challenger Antwun Echols on ESPN.
“Kid Chocolate” followed with his toughest fight to date, winning a 10-round decision in New York City over dangerous Colombian puncher Dionisio Miranda (18-2-2). Quillin was cruising along in complete control until the seventh round, when he was hurt by Miranda’s powerful combination, resulting in Peter getting trapped and pummeled on the ropes. Miranda fired 14 unanswered punches but, he punched himself out and Quillin recovered to win a unanimous decision on ESPN by scores of 97-92, 97-92 and 97-93.
On Sept. 17, 2008 in Manchester (NH), Qullin used a vicious body attack to stop veteran Sam Hill (17-8-1) in the 10th round. But a snake-bitten Quillin, who was ranked as high as No. 5 by the IBF, didn’t return to the ring again until February 6, 2010, after enduring an 18-month layoff due to a hand injury (8 months), followed by a hairline fracture of his eye socket, and then an emergency appendectomy. “Kid Chocolate” won a 10-round decision against tough Fernando Zuniga in that comeback fight.
A few years ago, Quillin moved to Los Angles to train and spar at Freddie Roach’s famed Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California. “I felt I needed change in my life,” Peter explained, “so I could continue fully focusing on boxing for my benefit.” Quillin moved back to New York City last year but still trains in Southern California for his fights.
Quillin also got out of his promotional contract with Cedric Kushner’s Gotham Boxing, signing an exclusive deal with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
In his GBP debut, Quillin knocked out Martin Desjardins in the opening round of their December 18, 2010 fight in Quebec, followed two months later by a win by fourth-round technical knockout of veteran Dennis Sharpe (17-5-3).
Quillin’s stock went up when stopped former world title challenger Jesse Brinkley (35-7, 22 KO’s) via a third-round TKO in Reno, Nevada in a fight televised live on TeleFutura’s “Solo Boxeo Tecate.” Quillin rocked Brinkley in the opening round with an overhand right, showed poise during target practice in the following round, and finished-off the then International Boxing Federation (“IBF”) No. 7-rated Brinkley when referee Joe Cortez mercifully halted the action at 2:34 of the third.
Up next (July 23, 2011) was a scheduled 10-rounder, back in Quillin’s natural middleweight division, against another veteran, “Marvelous” Tarvis Simms (27-1-1, 11 KOs) in 10-round bout on the July 23 Amir Khan vs. Zab Judah undercard at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Simms, however, withdrew a week before the fight due to a broken rib and Petey faced an entirely different fighter, Jason “The Hammer” LeHoullier (21-5-1, 8 KOs), who Quillin beat until LeHoullier was unable to answer the bell for the sixth round.
On November 5, 2011 in Cancun, Mexico, Quillin’s sensational HBO debut resulted in a six-round dismantling of Scottish southpaw Craig McEwan (19-1). Referee Manolo Alcocer robbed “Kid Chocolate” of a sure devastating knockout with by controversially halted the action a bit premature. “It’s boxing and there’s always a chance,” understanding Peter remarked, “but I understand why the referee stopped the fight at that point. I saw some shots open up and wanted a knockout, but the ref was just doing his job, caring for McEwan’s safety. Hey, that’s why I’m a fighter, and he’s a referee. I never want my opponent to be seriously hurt.”
Quillin then faced four-time world champion Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-5-1, 25 KOs) ona Showtime Championship Boxing card, headlined by Antonio Tarver vs. Lateef Kayode, at Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Quillin won a 10-round decision in convincing fashion, sending Wright into retirement.
“I have ‘Winky’ Wright’s name on my record,” Quillin said after the fight. “He was a great fighter who took the fight with me hoping to get lucky. I don’t believe in luck. What I learned was I needed to keep working hard, stay dedicated to boxing and continue sacrificing, in order to win at this high level. It was a good experience for me.”
Quillin became the WBO No. 1 mandatory challenger for undefeated Nassan N’Dam N’Jikam (27-0), who had been elevated from Interim to world champion. The two warriors squared-off October 20, 2012 on Showtime Championship Boxing in the first professional boxing event held at the new Barclays Center in Quillin’s old neighborhood of Brooklyn.
The powerful Quillin wasn’t about to let this dream opportunity pass without capitalizing, as he dropped the defending champion six times en route to a 12-round unanimous decision (115-107 on all three judges’ scorecards), to capture the coveted WBO 160-pound division championship.
“It was great putting on a performance like that for the fans at Barclay Center,” Quillin remarked. “All my hard work paid off. It was a great show. People saying I stole the show, well, that’s a blessing. I proved that I can perform like that, given the chance, in a championship fight. I beat a world champion who had an undefeated, identical record as mine.”
Five of the six punches he decked N’Dam with were left hooks and Quillin finished strong by flooring his opponent twice in the final round. “I’ve always had a good left hook,” Quillin noted. “People may not have noticed it before, but it’s another tool in my tool box.
“I always have confidence in my skills and working with (strength-and-conditioning coach) Brad Bose and my nutritionist, Robert Garcia, conditioning was never my concern. I went 12 hard rounds and felt strong right to the end.”
Quillin, currently rated No. 4 in the world middleweight division by The Ring Magazine, has gone from hunter to the hunted. “I train to destroy anybody in the ring with me,” Quillin added. “I steadily moved up the ladder and won the WBO title in one of the Fights of the Year. Two undefeated guys were fighting for the world title and that’s why boxing is so special. You can always look back at fights and find things you can do better: throw more punches, especially jabs, apply added pressure, and move my head more. The key is learning more and knowledge is power. I went to Las Vegas and worked a little with The Grandmaster, Floyd Mayweather Sr., to work on my defense. I thank him for the help and my trainer, Eric Brown, for letting me do that. And I think, as world champion, I’m even more confident in myself.”
In his first WBO title defense (April 27, 2013), Quillin decked challenger Fernando Guerrero (25-1) twice each in the second and seventh rounds en route to victory by way of seventh round technical knockout, at Barclays Center and on Showtime.
After the fight, Quillin said, “I never want to lose and just work hard to win every fight. I challenge myself in training camp for every fight and I have great trainers – Eric Brown (boxing), Brad Bose (strength and conditioning) and Robert Garcia (nutritionist). I’m improving every fight. I’ve gained valuable experience, become more confident since becoming world champion, and feel very comfortable in the ring. In my last fight, I showed improvement in ring generalship, composure, and even my interviewing skills. I’m becoming the full package.”
In his last fight (Oct. 26, 2013), also aired on Showtime but from Atlantic City this time, Quillin stopped veteran tough guy, No. 11 ranked “King” Gabriel Rosado (21-6), in the 10th round, when the ringside physician halted the bout due to a severe cut on Rosado’s left eye that happened in the ninth round. “Kid Chocolate” was leading comfortably on the three judges’ scorecards (90-80, 89-81, 87-83) at the time of stoppage.
Qullin knocked down Rosado in the second round, increasing his total to 11 in three world title fights, and to 32 in his 30 professional fights. . “I am a performer in the ring and I’ve trained hard to be a power puncher,” Quillin spoke about reaching Animal Status. “At times, I’ll take a punch to give back a few of my own. I have power to knockout my opponent with my right or left, at any point of a fight. Earlier in my career, a lot of my knockdowns and knockouts came in two rounds or less, but I’ve had 11 knockdowns in my three world title fights. No matter how many times they get up, I’m going to keep knocking them down.”
Even though he’s an undefeated world champion, Quillin believes his incredible journey is only the beginning of his compelling life story. “I’m working even harder now to get to the next level – superstar,” he offered. “The world title belt has put a big, red X on my back, but I believe the only person who can defeat me is me. There’s more I’m working on to accomplish what I want. I love to challenge myself. I look in the mirror and honestly believe nobody can beat me. I still have a lot to improve, though, and I’ve gotten this far fighting through a lot of BS. I take what I do very seriously and anybody can see just that by watching what I put myself through at the gym.
“You never know what’s going to happen in life, so I’m cherishing these moments. After I won the world title, it did take a little while for it to really sink in. More eyes are on me in boxing and I know my name will go down in boxing history as a world champion. There are special privileges as world champion and more people do recognize me now, but I’m still a very hungry fighter because there are a lot of guys trying to take my belt.”
The still humble, yet, charismatic boxer also wants to make his mark outside of the ring, saying, “I want to touch people in a special way to show them that, if they work hard in life, they can do almost anything. I’m a dreamer who has set goals and has applied them in life to overcome adversity and be successful. I’m pleased to spread the word to people all over, especially kids, and continue to strive to be a better overall person.”
Quillin was named 2012 Fighter of the Year by Ring 8, based in New York, the largest group of an organization formerly known as the National Veteran Boxers Association.
Peter Quillin is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, co-managed by John Seip and Jimmy McDevitt, advised by Al Haymon, and trained by Eric Brown.