Boxing and singing aren’t your typical peanut butter-and-jelly-like pairing.
Boxing is associated with force. It’s entering a ring and putting your life on the line every time the bell rings.
Singing R&B is a little more gentle. It’s expressing yourself in a way in which people are more likely to hug and kiss you than bob and weave between jabs and hooks.
Philadelphia native Nahir “Woo” Albright balances having the swagger of a singer with his “mean” side that is unveiled when the gloves are on. Boxing is the profession he’s more associated with, and since there are stereotypes about the masculinity of male R&B singers, other boxers usually aren’t impressed.
“I feel like I got two sides to me, and I just bring both of them out when it’s time,” Albright said. “Most of my opponents underestimate me when they’re thinking they’re fighting the singer.”
Singing came before boxing. Albright saw the Temptations on TV one day, and he ain’t too proud to sing ever since. The soulful Motown group piqued Albright’s interest when he was in second grade, and he won talent shows in school singing hits such as Just My Imagination.
“I thought I was the next Usher,” Albright said. “I was jumping off stage and having fun with it.”
Growing up in a Southwest Philadelphia home with seven siblings, Albright, 25, said it was “rough.” But the big family atmosphere made things better. Even when he was wearing one pair of shoes to school the entire year, moments like boxing with his brothers and cousins created lifelong enjoyable memories.
Those family rivalries are often where competitive natures are discovered, and it’s how Albright (12-1, 6 KOs) got into boxing at 13.
“We used to be in the house with boxing gloves on, fighting, having a tournament,” Albright said.
Friday night will be the biggest boxing match of Albright’s career. He is scheduled to fight New Orleans native Jeremy Hill (15-1, 10 KOs) for the NABA lightweight title in the main event at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. First bell is at 6 p.m.
After some of his fights, Albright sings the national anthem. So, often, after he drops somebody in the ring, he drops the mic — even while still wearing his boxing gloves.
Albright won all four of his fights this year by stoppage.
“I’m hungry for success,” he said. “Now is the most active I’ve been in my career. I told my team, once I stay active I’m gonna be a dangerous fighter, and no one can beat me.”
Hill will be the most formidable opponent Albright has faced. He has lost only to undefeated Philly boxer Steven Ortiz, and his last three wins have come via knockouts.
Albright hasn’t lost since his first professional fight, but he can’t forget that day. He was beaten by East Hartford’s Anthony Laureano in a 39-37, 38-38, 39-37 majority decision.
“I was just thinking this is the moment I’ve been waiting for my whole life, and it slipped out of my hands,” Albright said. “I’m always strong in faith in God, and that’s what kept me afloat. I knew it was something greater awaiting for me.”
If Albright beats Hill, his profile should surge as a recognizable up-and-coming boxer from Philly. His 2021 opponents have a combined 60-43-3 record, so much is left to prove.
While it isn’t exactly peanut butter and jelly, Albright’s boxing and singing do complement each other. He has more than 38,000 followers on TikTok because of his singing, comedy, and boxing videos.
Albright is confident his boxing will open more doors for his singing. That could happen again Friday night.
“We’re going to have to wait and see,” he said.