The son’s athletic build, agility, strength, and even his voice conjure memories of the father.

Then he steps through ropes at the Pleasantville Rec Center, snaps his jab with striking quickness, fires powerful hooks and you’re taken back almost 30 years, to an outdoor ring at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on April 8, 1995, when Bruce Seldon became the WBA heavyweight champion.

The glory did not last long.  A year later, his reign came to a crashing end against Mike Tyson.  He mounted a comeback after an eight-year hiatus, but it didn’t pan out.  He retired in 2009 with a record of 40-8 with 36 knockouts and is now working for a public works department in North Jersey.

Now Bruce Seldon Jr. is about to start his boxing career.  The 29-year-old Smithville resident is scheduled to make his pro debut on Saturday night against Vineland’s Terrick Maven in a four-round heavyweight fight at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom.

“I feel the presence of it, the expectations, but that’s something I’ve had to deal with my whole life,” Seldon Jr. said. “I feel the pressure to succeed, for sure. But I don’t think that’s because of my dad. I’m doing this for myself.”

The desire to carve his own niche led him away from boxing for a long time.  And away from Atlantic City also.  Bruce Jr. was a standout football player at Absegami High School.

The 2012 graduate was a running back and defensive end for the Braves under then-coach Dennis Scuderi.

Bruce Seldon Jr
Photo courtesy of Dave Weinberg

“I also tried other sports,” he said. “I did lacrosse and even tried rowing, but I didn’t get too far with that. I just wanted to do my own thing and that deterred me from boxing for a little while.”

He also left the area for a few years, moving to Las Vegas in 2017 to work as a security guard.  He soon found himself in a boxing gym and realized that maybe it was something he was destined to do.

“When you grow up in this area, you get sick of it after a while,” he said. “When the opportunity came to go to Vegas, I jumped on it. It was a great experience. I had fun, but I also grew up and became a man.”

He came back a year ago and sought out Jim Kurtz, a Holy Spirit High School graduate who serves as an executive at Harrah’s Atlantic City while also managing a stable of fighters with partner David Dubinsky via DKO Boxing.

When Bruce Jr. contacted him, he didn’t hesitate.  Kurtz previously served as Bruce Seldon Sr.’s manager and advisor and also guided Isiah Seldon, Bruce Jr.’s brother, to a 14-6-1 record with five knockouts as a middleweight a few years ago.

“We started talking about six months ago,” Kurtz said. “He’s getting a late start, but it’s not like it was 20 years ago. Most of the top heavyweights now are in their mid-to-late 30’s. But I just wanted to make sure he’s doing this for all the right reasons. I told him that he’s got to be married to this and he is. I’ve been very impressed with his dedication and work ethic.”

Trainer Julio Sanchez shares the same opinion.  Sanchez, a retired Pleasantville firefighter, rekindled the struggling boxing program at the Pleasantville Rec Center. It was once a hotbed of boxing in the area like the Atlantic City PAL under late trainer Mike Hall and others.

Sanchez is well-known in local boxing circles for his ability to get the most out of fighters with a patient-but-firm approach.

“Jim showed me some video and I was intrigued,” Sanchez said. “He’s green and there are some rough spots that have to be smoothed over, but he’s absolutely got the talent that can be massaged into something great.

“Of course, you never really know until a fighter faces adversity. But he works hard, he listens, he’s very teachable. He’s 29, but the sky’s the limit.”

Like any fighter, he dreams of greatness. He would love to reach the same heights as his father, to have his arm raised and a championship belt strapped around his waist.

But for now, he’s content with forging his own path, with making a name for himself.

Even if it’s the same name as his father’s.

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