BAM on Boxing
Amateur Breeding Ground
I have been building relationships with different local gyms. Each gym brings a different feeling, but always the same focus—boxing. I came across a couple things that I want others to know about and recognize.
Props go to Stephen Fulton (left), who trains in Shuler’s gym in West Philadelphia and recently was featured in the Daily News. Better known as Scooter, Fulton was the Golden Gloves National Champion at 114 pounds this year and he earned his first USA national team berth by finishing second at 123 pounds at the USA Boxing Championships in April in Spokane, WA. He understands that training with the US National team can become a full-time job. With trainer Hamza Muhammad in his corner, Fulton is working to land a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Keep an eye on him!
Frank Kubach, who runs the Front Street gym in Kensington, showed his heart is in the right place this week by making endless calls to multiple resources to generate money to cover expenses for one of his fighters to participate in a four-day tournament in Fort Lauderdale, FL. When Kubach’s fighter arrived in Florida and learned that the hotel room was not paid for, Kubach did what any passionate person involved in boxing would have done by getting back on the phone and getting an anonymous donor to pay for the lodging.
People are willing to spend money to sponsor athletes, but if the gym owner or someone else involved doesn’t make the calls, the fighter would not be competing. And that’s important! Fighters “cut their teeth” in amateur boxing to make it to the pros and their trainers and fellow-gym members are all they have to help them get there.
There are plenty of gyms throughout the city—Young Gunz (Lonnie Young), Harrowgate, Shulers, Costello’s, ECC Fitness, ABC, Mitch Allen, Joe Hand Boxing Gym, Marian Anderson, and many others—that have people like Kubach doing the same things for the fighters. Amateur boxing is a traveling sport. The boxers need the extra help and the support from their gyms.
Speaking of traveling, well-known 10-year-old Steven Foster is sponsored by Jamal In from Las Vegas, who made it possible for Foster to fly to the Floyd Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas to train next week. Foster has traveled the country, showcasing his talent. Foster trains here at the ABC Recreation Center in North Philadelphia with Fred Jenkins Sr., and Fred’s sons, Fred, Jr., and Ryan, and with Jerome Jackson. He also gets work at 69th Street gym on the weekends as well as in Washington, DC, which has become his second home, working there with Hall-of-Fame flyweight champion Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and with Mark’s brother, James.
Foster is excelling in boxing and expanding into other sports. He does his roadwork on Temple University’s track with former professional fighter Rashiem Jefferson. Foster works with amateurs and pros and has more energy than the average amateur boxer. He is an inspiring athlete who has taught me to pay attention to the young fighters in the gym. Foster has the potential to go places in boxing.
At ECC Fitness in Northeast Philadelphia, there may be another young prodigy following in Foster’s footsteps. Jamir Lil Future Robertson (left) is 8 years old, trained by his father Mark, who learned from mentors Sonny McCord and Wesley Mouzon. Lil Future does not have much experience yet, but to watch him in the gym is as if you’re watching a pro. His abundant work ethic shows not only is he willing to learn but he is passionate for this sport.
Fulton is someone for these fighters to look up to and aspire to be, I hope that they all find the same support that the fighter from Front Street Gym received to be able to accomplish their every dream. There are so many levels to the sport of boxing. The professional level and amateur level can both be broken down into different stages, but overall it is just one sport. The pros deserve the attention they receive, but the amateurs should never go overlooked—it’s where a lot of great talent is bred.