I was having a conversation with an old classmate of mine this weekend and he asked whatever happened to the boxing clubs. In the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, Eufaula had three boxing clubs that competed every weekend at the Eufaula Armory along with other clubs from across Oklahoma.
The talent that came out of these clubs was outstanding and included boxers like Robert and Larry Newton, Joe Johnson, J.C. Watts, Michael and J.D. Nichols, Doug Kirby, Jerome McNeil and professional boxer William Jackson. In the mid 1980’s, William Jackson and Coach Washington were trainers for the club I boxed for and Gary Johnson coached another club that consisted of boxers like Mark Caldwell and Doug Reynolds. Reynolds was a sensational boxer at 156 pounds. He would work his way inside his opponents, lift their elbows and punish them with bolo uppercuts. Reynolds finished his career at the Olympic Boxing trials in Denver, Colorado where he boxed Michael Spinks’ son to a draw.
Boxing was a great outlet for local athletes.
I once asked J.C. Watts if boxing helped him on the football field. “Of course it did. It made you tougher and helped develop hand quickness and the importance of foot placement,” Watts told me.
Back in the day we would play football on Friday and box each other on Saturdays sometimes. Liability issues slowly forced clubs to close and soon there was no more local boxing and really no amateur boxing anywhere. I cherish those days and the lessons to this day that coach Washington and Jackson taught me and others.
Wouldn’t it be nice if today’s youth had more outlets to participate in and learn some valuable life lessons.