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Archive for Sunday, April 29, 1990

BOXING CLUB

April 29, 1990

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A buzzer sounds sharply in Robert Revere's training gym northeast of Lawrence and eight young boxers go to work. Dance and jab, dance and jab, dance and jab.

The boxers, aged 14 to 21, sock it to different kinds of punching bags, shadow-box, jump rope and pop sit ups.

Three minutes later, the piercing buzzer sounds again. They rest, sweat dripping from their faces and streaming down their backs.

Three minutes later, the buzzer blasts and they're back on their feet. Gym class was never like this.

Most of the young men in the room have boxed only a couple of months and already, some have fought in Kansas City and Stillwater, Okla.

Of those who've entered the ring fighting 3-round fights, at 2 minutes a round some tasted the thrill of winning. Others felt literally and figuratively the sting of defeat.

These boys are the most recent in a long line of boxers to be coached by Revere, a boxer since age eight and coach for 34 years.

During a Tuesday training session last week, Revere said he is entering his current crop of boxers in spring competitions, mostly in Kansas City, and hopes some will eventually win their way to national events.

"My definition of talent is being inspired," he said. "You can develop anything. . . I've done it all my life."

Revere said he established his own gym about four years ago, and has worked primarily with Haskell Indian Junior College students in the past. For 12 years, he was volunteer sponsor of Haskell's boxing and rodeo clubs.

Revere said he had been wanting to work with Lawrence youth for some time, and last winter linked up with Mike Andress, community center director at the Salvation Army, for referrals. Some of those boys also have recruited others whom Revere is now coaching.

Brian Jimenez, 21, the oldest boxer Revere is now coaching, drove to Osawatomie to be coached before joining Revere's group in February after learning of him through mutual acquaintances.

Jimenez lost his first competitive fight, last weekend in the open division at a Golden Gloves meet in Kansas City, but he said he learned a lot from the experience.

Getting in shape to fight is a very physical undertaking, Jimenez said Tuesday, "but it's mental in the ring. You have to be ready to get in the ring.

"I learned that last Friday night."

He said he's been boxing since his father, Fidel, gave him a set of gloves when he was 5 years old, but has only been seriously interested for two years.

Noting he is double majoring in human development and psychology at Kansas University and working 30 hours a week, Jimenez said he gets rid of a lot of tension boxing at Revere's gym.

"It's been fun but it takes a lot of effort," he said, noting he manages to squeeze in 10 hours a week at the gym.

The Salvation Army's Andress said at first, he had just a few boys express interest in boxing to him, but when he told them about Revere's offer to coach on a volunteer basis, "all of a sudden I had 15."

Most, he added, have stuck with the program and are now regaling him with accounts of their competitions.

The boys joined Revere's White Eagle Boxing Club, named by some of his American Indian boxers in honor of his son, Robert Revere II, who was in the U.S. Army at one time. The son also boxes, and now helps with the club too.

Revere explained American Indians traditionally honor their people for military service, so the boxers decided to use his son's Indian name for the club. He remembered the little-used name as "White Eagle" then, but later discovered it is actually Flying Eagle.

The club was established by then, Revere said, so the name wasn't changed, but the intended honor remains intact despite the misnomer.

Most of the boys in the club now are younger than those Revere has coached in the past and their approach to the sport is somewhat less concentrated than older boxers.

While visions of Mike Tyson dance in their heads, Revere hammers away at the basics of boxing, and he also talks to their parents about where boxing should fit into their lives, and about the possibility of injury.

"I don't want to create any kind of conflict with their educations," Revere said. "I stress they maintain their grades, do their homework before they come out here."

Each training night, he picks up the younger boys, who all attend Central Junior High School, and takes them home afterward.

He also drives them to the competitions.

Sixteen-year-old Randy "Rock" Brockman turned into quite a "crowd pleaser" at last weekend's meet, Revere said. Weighing in at 265 pounds, Brockman fights in the super heavyweight division for his age level. He stopped his opponent in 52 seconds.

Runner-up in that same category was another of Revere's boys, Brent Factor, a 232-pound 14-year-old.

Brockman said he found out about Revere's club from one of the other boys involved and "just decided I wanted to try it."

He's been training about three weeks. "I want to stick with it," Brockman said, noting his folks "think it's a great experience for me."

Fifteen-year-old David Walker said he was boxing on New York Street with a friend when boxing-club members Lyle and Merlin Krueger saw him and told him about Revere's club.

The 178-pound Walker fought successfully in the light heavy division last week, Revere said.

Walker recalled the training proved harder than he expected at first, but two weeks of effort put him in good enough shape physically to compete.

David Garcia, a 15-year-old welterweight at 147 pounds, said he likes the training he gets at Revere gym too. Garcia hasn't fought yet, because of a rib injury unrelated to boxing, but said he looks forward to the day.

Richard Jarrett Jr., a 118-pound bantamweight, said he was so sore the first morning after going to Revere's gym he "couldn't move. . . . But about the fourth day, I really got into it and I wasn't so tired." After three months in the club, the sessions leave him feeling good.

Several of the young boxers recalled their first competitive bouts and most said their dominant feeling was fear, but not of their opponents.

The crowds that had come to watch them fight scared them, they said, although in the end, some were downed by opponents apparently worthy of a little fear.

Some had their fights stopped when injury was emminent and learned a bit about reckoning with the ultimate power in the ring, the referees.

Several of the boys said their parents voiced some initial opposition to their boxing because of the danger of injury, but none said they were forbidden outright to give it a try.

Lyle Krueger, a 14-year-old, 112-pound light flyweight, said his grandmother is afraid he'll get hurt but his parents think it's O.K. In fact, he said, his brothers, Merlin, 16, and Edward, 8, also are in the club.

Walker said he didn't think his mother would let him fight but found instead that his father and older brother opposed it, fearing he'd be hurt.

Their concerns have lessened, he said, "now that I've brought a trophy home."

James Johnson, a 156-pound 15-year-old light middleweight who stopped his opponent 40 seconds into the first round last weekend, said his folks don't care if he fights "as long as I don't get hurt."

Revere said he talks with the boys' parents about the prospects of injury, explaining the club has insurance coverage up to $1 million for injuries incurred in training or competition.

"The referee in the ring is the supreme boss," Revere said. "He's responsible to look out and use his ultimate discretion to stop a fight."

He added the Kansas City Golden Gloves were pioneers in making headgear mandatory in all sponsored competitions, for the protection of the boxers.

Although Revere has been associated with Golden Gloves for many years now, he said he knew nothing of such an organization when he started boxing as a child on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming.

Revere's father, like Jimenez's, bought him a set of gloves for Christmas.

As a young man on the reservation, he boxed in "smokers" where "we just boxed anybody" regardless of sizes. Later, he boxed and coached in Casper, Wyo., where he learned of the Golden Gloves organization.

As a youth, he came to Lawrence, graduating from Haskell Indian Junior College, then Haskell Institute, in 1959.

The next 12 years, were spent back in Wyoming, boxing and coaching in the winter and rodeoing in the summer, but in '71, he returned to Lawrence, and began volunteering with the Haskell clubs.

Also on the board of directors of the Indian Olympics, which are planned for this summer in Canada, Revere said that in his new, local endeavor, he hopes to build first and second string teams of boxers large enough to have a man in each competitive weight division, and, perhaps, even stage a boxing show for the Lawrence community.

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