First Posted: 9/21/2011
LUMBERTON Leather gloves thump a heavy bag, rattling its support chains linked down from the ceiling.
Andrew Baker, boxing coach at Total Elite Fitness in Lumberton, sits, leaned forward, in a foldout chair. Soon, hell be upright holding punching pads, instructing a student when to jab into them. When the sparring sessions over, Baker pulls off the pupils gloves, unwinds his hand wraps, and pats him on the back.
This is how Baker, who was a boxer and later a boxing coach for the Army, spends his days teaching kids, and those of all ages, the finer points of boxing: The form, the stance and the rhythms.
Baker does it to introduce kids to a sport they probably dont know much about, give them a form of exercise, or just plain keep them out of trouble.
I love doing something for the kids, Baker said inside the boxing room at Lumbertons Total Elite Fitness. They need something to put their mind on. It gives them something different to look at. Maybe itll open some of these kids eyes.
Some think the only thing we got here in Lumberton is the skating and the movies we got a little bit of boxing going on.
Baker is specifically helping two young boxers from Lumberton prepare for the 2011 Mens and Womens Amateur Boxing Smoker, held Saturday at the Lumberton National Guard Armory. The event was originally slated for Aug. 27, but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene.
All the clubs bring their fighters together and its just, Hey, lets go at it, Baker said. These kids are coming from different clubs Charlotte, Fayetteville, Spring Lake, Rockingham, Wilmington, Raleigh, Hendersonville
Preparing under Bakers tutelage in Lumberton has been 14-year-old James Brady Jacobs, whos in the 141-pound weight class. Saturday is Jacobs first fight.
Im a little nervous but Im ready for it. I got a lot of excitement for it, Jacobs said. Jacobs, a freshman at Lumberton High School whos been training for seventh months, will be facing an opponent who is also punching his first fight-ticket.
Coach Baker is eager to see Jacobs debut in the ring.
Weve been preparing for this for awhile, Baker said. Were going to see what (Jacobs) can do. Its time for him to get his feet wet.
Bakers other protege seeing the ring Saturday is Cravun Baker, 20, of Lumberton. Saturday is the 141-pounders fourth fight.
All month long Ive having little burns in my stomach, nerves, Cravun Baker said. Im ready. Ready to go out and put on a show.
The show begins at 6 p.m. at the Lumberton National Guard Armory. Tickets are for sale at the event, with a $12 fee for adults and a $6 fee for children.