NEW YORK -- The father is an alumnus of San Quentin prison, the son is six credits short of a degree at the University of Kentucky.
They are the Van Horns, father G.L. and son Darrin, and they are the rare father-son boxing combination that seems to be working. Darrin Van Horn is already a two-time world champion at age 23, and he will defend his International Boxing Federation super middleweight title Friday night against Iran Barkley to headline the first boxing show at The Paramount theater in Madison Square Garden.
In his corner will be manager-trainer G.L., who says the initials stand for 'Good Living,' and whose post-high school education consists of the time he spent in prison for extortion. He escaped one jail, then ended up in San Quentin.
'We give you the pros and cons,' the elder Van Horn says. 'Darrin being the pro and me being the con.
'Imagine after spending 4 years in San Quentin, I went to bed one day and came up with a world champion.'
It wasn't quite that simple. Darrin Van Horn started boxing professionally at age 16 in Morgan City, La., and already had 23 bouts by time he graduated high school in 1986. He continued his career in Lexington, Ky., when he enrolled in college, working his way through school as a junior middleweight contender.
'If I wasn't boxing,' says the baby-faced champion, 'I wouldn't have been able to go to school.'
Van Horn says the combination of boxing and books have been a gooTK/one for him. He will be out of high school six years when he finally earns his degree in broadcast journalism this spring, but school has been a pleasant diversion from boxing, and boxing has helped him gain experience behind aN 1crophone.
'If I get big in boxing, if I become a mega-star, my degree won't mean anything,' he says, 'but if I had to do it all over again I would. It keeps me out of trouble and makes the day go by. ... I can't sit around and have only boxing on my mind. It's boring.'
Van Horn took a year off school after winning the IBF junior middleweight title on a 12-round decision over Robert Hines Feb. 5, 1989. His reign was short, however. He lost to Gianfranco Rosi five months later in his first defense.
Van Horn lost another decision to Rosi in a July 1990 title bout, then moved up two weight classes to super middleweight. Last May 18, he knocked out Lindell Holmes to win the 168-pound title in Italy. His first defense was a third-round knockout over John Jarvis Au+. 17.
Looking back over his 47-2 record, Van Horn might want to go to graduate school after receiving his degree.
'The only times I lost,' he said, 'I wasn't going to school, it was summer break.'
It should make him feel better!that he took finals while training for Barkley, whose toughest exam before this bout concerned an eye chart. Barkley has had surgery to repair the retina on his left eye and was turned down for a license in Britain in 1990 because of poor vision. He passed the New Yo m ptate Commission's test Tuesday.
Barkley is best known for stunning Thomas Hearns on a third-round knockout in 1988 to win the World Boxing Council middleweight title. He lost his first defense against Roberto Duran, then lost a decision to IBF middleweight champion Michael Nunn and was stopped by Nigel Benn in the first round Aug. 18, 1990. Barkley has won his last two fights as a light heavyweight but has not looked good.
Barkley, 27, with a 27-7 record, is a 2-1 underdog but vows to save his career with a victory.
'When this graduate day comes, he (Van Horn) won't pass,' Barkley said. 'I was schooled in the South Bronx. When you get that close to me, you're out.'