Boxing and cutting hair don’t have much in common. The main difference between the two is that one of them pays the rent. Owner of the International Barber Federation, Roc Marshall, has a passion for fighting and operating a community hub, which just happens to be a barbershop.
“Since I can’t fight, I wanted to name the business after something I love to do,” said Marshall, who named the shop after the International Boxing Federation. “But boxing doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to stick to what I know [cutting hair]. That dream may never happen, but I’m not mad,” said Marshall. The undefeated amateur fighter prioritizes his children over his career aspirations for fighting, but he still trains when he isn’t manning the shop.
The I.B.F shop prides itself on hiring from within the community. “I hire young men to wash hair to keep them off the streets and try to give back,” said Marshall. Many young men frequent the shop to get their hair cut. The television usually features cartoons for the youngsters who joke and buy juice from the vending machine as they wait to get in the chair.
One of Marshall’s barbers and longtime friends, Octavius Greene, who goes by Qaadir, stresses the importance of allocating resources for children’s activities in the Germantown area. “The neighborhood could be a little better,” said Greene, “there’s not enough for the youth, playgrounds aren’t equipped, there isn’t enough to do all year ‘round.”
The shop and the neighborhood benefit equally from one another. “Unlike a lot of other places this barber shop deals with real life situations in a positive manner. We try to set a good example for the younger people around us,” said barber, Yah-Ya Macon.
While casual conversation and laughter keep the mood in the shop light, technique and focus are still required to deliver a satisfying hair cut. “A person has to listen, to be able to take criticism and be consistent in cutting hair. A lot of people get frustrated and they give up,” said Marshall, who emphasized the role of practice and observation required to cut hair. For a fresh cut, find I.B.F at 5027 Germantown Ave.