Thursday, August 10, 2000

Boys jab at Olympic future




By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The future of Cincinnati boxing can be found in the basement of an old building in the tough public housing community of Winton Terrace.

        That's where former professional boxer Arnold Bush Sr. gathers about 15 boys every day and teaches them jabs, hooks and discipline. He calls the group the Winton Terrace Golden Gloves Boxing Team.

        The price of admission: The boys have to stay out of drugs and trouble. They have to stay in school, and they have to work hard.

        “If they're not in shape, I don't train them,” said Mr. Bush, a 63-year-old Winton Terrace resident. “Don't nobody give you nothing, so I make them earn it.”

        The reward: The boys learn a skill that brings the chance to travel and to excel in tournaments.

        “It's a nice way for kids to get out of Cincinnati to go to meets and use the self-discipline they learn with this program,” said Donald Troendle, executive director of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority.

        Kalin Cousins knows about the rewards. Kalin, 15, is the boxing team's latest success story — he won the National Junior Olympic Boxing Championship at the 90-pound weight in Michigan last month.

        He doesn't look much like the boxers you see on television — he stands about 5 feet tall. But he has developed a mean left hook in his two years with Mr. Bush.

        Before getting serious about boxing, Kalin struggled with poor grades and showed rebellious behavior. Charlene Cousins, a single mother of six, calls that her oldest son's “icky time.”

        “Mr. Bush used to kick him out of the gym because he wouldn't act right,” said Ms. Cousins, 31. “One day he just decided to do it ... and he's been doing very well since.”

        The dozen or so trophies and medals on display in the Cousinses' living room attest to Kalin's talent and dedication. He trains two to four hours a day, with an eye to becoming a boxer and a graphic artist.

        Kalin's teammates also have collected an impressive array of titles. Demetrius James, 12, is a 2000 Silver Gloves state champion and Junior Olympic regional champion. Mel Crossty, 14, is a Silver Gloves national champion and Junior Olympic state champion.

        Cincinnati has always been a hotbed of boxing, from legends Ezzard Charles and Aaron Pryor to its two entries in this year's Sydney Olympics, Dante Craig, a Woodward graduate, and Ricardo Williams Jr., a Taft graduate.

        Mr. Bush's boxers aren't old enough for the Olympics this year, but asked whether he expects them to try out in 2004, he said: “I see my kids being in the Olympics in 2004.”

        Mr. Bush started the Winton Terrace program five years ago.

        “The community didn't have nothing, and the kids were always fighting each other,” he said.

        Mr. Bush enlisted help from all quarters:

       

  • Volunteers built a boxing ring and bought recreational equipment.

            „Buddy LaRosa, head of the pizza empire and a former boxer, helps pay for travel to tournaments.

            „Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority helps with gym and other expenses.

            „Mr. Bush's sons Brandon and Arnold Jr., who also box, are assistant coaches.

            And Mr. Bush stays focused on the most important thing he can do for his young neighbors: “These kids is good, and I don't want them to get with the wrong people.”

           



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