Knockout artist Keith Thurman holds the World Boxing Association welterweight belt, which makes sense because he hasn't lost any of his 28 career fights.
But he's not the only one who's undefeated — so is his Prius.
"It has zero tickets," Thurman says with pride. "It's undefeated in the streets."
A prizefighter who drives a Prius? That might sound unusual, because, well, it is — but this is Keith Thurman.
When Thurman steps into the ring Saturday for a hotly anticipated bout against Danny Garcia, it won't just be a clash between two undefeated fighters unifying their belts on network TV (CBS, 9 p.m. EST).
It will also be a chance for casual followers of the sport to meet the man who's perhaps boxing's most unique character outside the ring.
Thurman is a self-described "philosopher." He practices yoga and meditates. He immerses himself in world religions. He plays the wooden flute, along with the piano and guitar. And yes, he drives that 2012 Toyota Prius.
He knows this isn't the stereotypical profile of a pro fighter.
"I'm different, that's all," Thurman says. "Everyone is different in their own ways — but I'm maybe a little bit more different in a little bit more different kind of way."
Dropping out of high school
As if Thurman's profile outside the ring didn't defy enough stereotypes already, there's also this: He didn't finish high school.
"I dropped out at 16 years old so I could show up to the boxing gym at noon," he says.
That was to work with his longtime trainer, Ben Getty. Getty was a boxing lifer who also worked as a school janitor at Thurman's elementary school. Getty trained Thurman from the time the young boxing hopeful was seven years old. Then Getty died at age 63 in 2009.
Thurman was 20 years old then, and says he went through a period of being "very lost" in the aftermath of the death of his mentor. Getty, Thurman says, "told me at 14, when no other man believed in me, that I'd be a champ and a million-dollar fighter."
It was around this time, after Getty's death, that Thurman began immersing himself in the study of world religions.
"Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity — I admire wise men," he explains. "Some of my favorite forms of history are religious history, what the sages say from the top of the mountain and how they view life."
Getting deep with Thurman, it's easy to forget you're talking to a guy who punches for a living.
"I believe in the spirit of God because I believe in the spirit of man," Thurman says. "Once you fill yourself with love, then you will have love to give to the rest of the world. This is my philosophy."
Meanwhile, Thurman knocks people out with lethal proficiency. No less than 22 of his 28 career fights have finished in KOs.
A crash, and a lesson
Image: John Locher/AP/REX/Shutterstock
The former high school dropout's voracious appetite for knowledge and success as a boxer are very much related, if you hear Thurman's current trainer tell it.
"He reads a lot, he studies a lot — and he retains everything," says Dan Birmingham, who was once Getty's assistant. "That makes him a great student of the game, too."
Thurman is similarly philosophical about his musical interest. He plays the wooden Native American flute, as well as guitar and piano.
"It reminds me of being a kid in the sandbox again just playing by himself," he says. "It takes me back to childhood. It's one of the few things I can do as an adult that's simply for the act of pleasure and playing with no judgment."
Then there's the Prius, which Thurman bought in 2012 after getting his first-ever paycheck for an HBO fight. He's since bought other, flashier cars, though — including a 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. That's the car he was driving last year when he hyroplaned and crashed, an accident that for months delayed a fight against Shawn Porter.
Lesson learned. During his entire preparation camp ahead of Saturday's bout with Garcia, Thurman drove only his Prius.
The Prius remains "undefeated," as Thurman says, while he'll look to maintain his own perfect record on Saturday night.
Then, he says, it's back to being "the little music-playing philosopher that I am."