HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Obed “Radar” Bartee II never dreamed of becoming a professional boxer when he was young. Radar wanted to play football, and he did. Growing up in Huntsville, recreational football a common pastime for young boys, especially among Radar’s friends. He loved it.
Radar was introduced to boxing at the age of 11. His dad, Obed Bartee, brought him to the gym to give his son something different to try.
“I didn’t like it,” Radar said. “I came to the gym and would hide in the bathroom to get out of training. It was hard. It was an hour-and-a half of punching bags and jumping around. I hated it. It worked. They stopped bringing me.”
Radar played football for two more years. He played at the rec level, but it wasn’t long before his friends outgrew him. Radar rarely lifted weights or trained for football. At 130 pounds, Radar was undersized on the gridiron. The idea of joining a sport with weight classes became intriguing. So, Radar went back to the boxing gym.
“In eighth grade I tried it again and it just clicked,” Radar explained. “It was different. It just gave me a different feel than other sports did. It teaches me discipline and confidence. It teaches me how to be a people-person.”
Radar felt a connection to boxing. Soon after the attachment manifested, Radar began competing.
“I got my nose busted up pretty bad. I won, but it didn’t look like I had won.”
After just five fights, Radar sought elevated competition. He was getting more comfortable in the ring. Radar decided it was time to compete in a national tournament.
“I got my butt handed to me by one of my best friends. He kicked my butt pretty bad in front of a lot of people. It was embarrassing. I didn’t like being embarrassed that way. I started training really hard. After that, I was a different competitor.”
Radar grew into an athlete. Quickly, boxing became a top priority in his life. And with that prioritization, came sacrifices.
“There were times where I wanted to just lay down and say I didn’t want this anymore. I had countless conversations with my parents where I would break down in tears. Physically, you have to cut weight. We sat down at a Mexican restaurant and everyone had these giant plates of quesadillas and tacos. It smelled so good. My dad grabbed my menu and flipped it over and goes ‘there are the salads.’ It was horrible.”
But it takes 24/7 commitment with unbreakable discipline and no shortcuts to train like a professional athlete. That’s the path Radar is on. What motivates him to stick with this grueling lifestyle? The idea of giving back.
“I know there’s more I can get out of my life. I can provide more to the community when I have the resources to do so. I’m from Huntsville, Alabama. This is a beautiful place. I can start to give more here. I love to help. I wasn’t a top-model student, at times. I would put effort into outside things before I put in effort to myself.”
Radar is headed to Colorado Springs. He was invited to participate as a training partner with Team USA ahead of the Olympics this summer. Radar, along with the other top amateurs, hope to compete in the 2024 Olympics.
“Going to the Olympics and getting a gold medal sets you apart. You get to mark your spot in history. In the short amount of time I've been able to take on boxing and learn what I learned, and put in the time I've put in, it's shown me a lot about myself and it's introduced me to people that can help me get to where I want to be. If I stay focused, if I keep my training up and keep the right headspace, I believe I can take on anything.”