My First British Boxer
On April 13, 2008, I went to LaGuardia Airport to get my new student, Billy Dawson, who just flew in from England. Both his father and grandfather were boxers.
The day after I got back from the Men’s Nationals in Colorado Springs, I unexpectedly met this determined young athlete while getting coffee in Starbucks next to Gleasons Gym. Two young men from England approached me after spotting the “BoxingCoachMike” logo on my sweat suit. They quickly introduced themselves and got right down to business:
- My name is Luke Campbell. I am the English National Champion in my weight class, and this is Billy Dawson, another boxer from my club. We’re here for a week to find some sparring, and we need a place to stay.
- “Where do you plan to train?” I asked them.
- “At Gleasons.”
- “Ok, go to Gleasons, see what it has to offer, and if you still need a coach, let me know.”
After a half hour, the guys came to me and said, “Mike, we want to train with you.” So, I asked them if they found a place to stay yet, and they hadn’t, so I took them to my house after training.
They were surprised to find out that they were staying in the same room where my former student, Yuri Foreman, lived for many years when he began his amateur and professional career in the USA. On the third night, after dinner, as I did the dishes, Billy came to me and said, “Mike, I want to be a champion. I will never betray you like Yuri Foreman did. Can I live here and train with you…”
All my friends told me, “Mike – come on! Are you forgetting that after Yuri Foreman, you trained those Bashkir twins from Russia, Khabir and Sabir Suleymanov? You worked with them more than two years for free, and they left you and stiffed you on a months rent. They never even thanked you for making them Golden Glove Champions and opening the door for them in professional boxing. Stop training people for free.”
What could I say? Maybe it is part of the journey of a true teacher – to not be broken down even if his favorite student betrays him. For Jesus, it was Judas, for me, it was Yuri Foreman…
After all, if some kid is willing to sacrifice everything for his dream to become a world champion boxer, but has no money, how can I tell him NO?