yo, adrian - Philly Fit

yo, adrian - Philly Fit

PhysicallyFIT N A RI D A , YO Meet Anthony Boyle BY BILLY NICGORSKI Rocky, the inspired creation of Sly Stallone, made the city an international to...

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PhysicallyFIT

N A RI D A , YO Meet Anthony Boyle

BY BILLY NICGORSKI

Rocky, the inspired creation of Sly Stallone, made the city an international tourist attraction when he told a story of a fighter from the streets with the courage of a lion, the heart of a lamb, and the left hook of a freight train. That was a Hollywood story, a fairy tale! I’d like to tell a Philadelphia story--one that’s no fairy tale. Philly, I’m proud to say, has had its own share of “Rockys.” The list of famous native sons and daughters is impressive. Philadelphians hold acclaim in every single field of achievement imaginable: politics, medicine, academics, music and entertainment, science and the arts. (Double dog dare ya’ to search on Wikipedia’s Famous Philadelphian’s webpage.) If you are by chance even remotely interested in sports you might know that dozens of those famous Philadelphians are either connected to the fight game—like Angelo Dundee, the Godfather of Cornermen—or are championship boxers who rocked and socked their way to fame. Remember Jimmy Young, the boxer who became known as the “guy who gave Mohammed Ali a boxing lesson?” Who doesn’t know Smokin’ Joe, one of the four Philadelphia champs who hold an Olympic Gold medal? Philly fighters live and move in a unique world, and it’s not so pristine, prissy, or proper. They work, train, live and breathe in gyms. Now hold onto your boxer shorts for a second while I explain to you that last sentence. I want you to get the full picture here. If you’re from the burbs like me, I gotta be honest here; you have no idea what a real gym is. That large

Anthony Boyle and Frank Kubach owner of Front street Gym cinderblock bunker with bleachers and a few B-ball rims where you bounced around in high school; that’s not a gym; that’s a playground. That glitzy facility where the twenty-three elliptical bikes are lined up next to the shiny red Nautilus weight-lifting machine; that’s not a gym; that’s a fitness center. That unfinished, nearly-condemned, brick shack tucked a few blocks off the old Port Richmond— that bruised old place with the “earthy” fragrance, worn leather, blood, spit, and dim lights; that’s a gym. Tucked inside the façade at the Front Street Gym there’s something that turns its worn brick structure into a stone palace of champions--It is heart. It’s having heart that made the film Rocky so popular. In Philly we love heart; we love that real deal, quiet-champion spirit. And that’s

what I found on Front Street, flying a little under the radar--Philadelphia heart. Don’t get me wrong, the gym didn’t have heart (though it did have a certain character). No, the heart was tucked inside the façade, and it was right in the chest, four inches from the solar plexus of Anthony Boyle. Here’s the story. Anthony stopped by Blue, the salon where I work cutting and styling hair. The guy in my chair asked, “Billy, do you know who that guy is? That’s Anthony Boyle, an expro fighter from my old neighborhood, Kensington.” “Wow,” I thought. All my life I’ve enjoyed rough and tumble sports: I grew up with five brothers, played fullback for the high school football team, still skate now and then for pick-up hockey games, and I’ve even worked out a bit with Will, one my best friends at work,

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PhillyFIT I 23

who holds a trophy or two as a black-belt kick boxer. So when Anthony popped into the shop, I had to say hello. After a handshake and some warm greetings, I found myself en route to taking up Anthony’s invitation to stop by the gym to see the Golden Glove fights that he was promoting. I took my father along. Dad was no stranger to boxing (we grew up punching a speed bag and a heavy bag which dad had installed in the basement), and Kensington was part of his old stomping grounds. When we arrived, I introduced my father to Anthony. Anthony, by the way, was once known as Anthony “TKO” Boyle. Now I gotta tell ya, I had never seen this guy in the ring back in the day (198384), defending his Lightweight Golden Glove title or slugging his way through his 26 pro victories (12 KO’s !), but I know this; this guy’s got knockout charm. He introduced us around, and I can’t remember being so impressed with hospitality. From that moment forward it was all magic. In fact, I was addicted. For the next four Saturdays in a row, I just had to go out for Fight Night. I got to see some of the most amazing young fighters battle it out for the chance to be a Golden Glove champion. I saw sportsmanship and courage in every match. I even got to meet a lot of the fighters and their families. I was totally out of my element, and yet everyone made me feel so very welcome. Each night, I left filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness to see such great things going on in one little place. Few experiences have ever delivered this kind of knockout entertainment for me. Even now, a few weeks after the fact, I’m still digesting what drew me to Front Street. One reason was that Anthony had introduced me to a new appreciation of boxing. In my mind, the Golden Glove competition stands head and shoulders above other boxing formats. Contact sports are popular these days, especially the extreme contact sports (Extreme Fighting, etc.) You might disagree, but those extreme sorts of KO matches offer only a cheap thrill. If you like that kind of thing, you’d probably pay to see two guys slug it out with two by fours or lead pipes. That’s barbaric. I’m not into seeing someone hurt. I’m not into seeing someone lose their health or lose their eyesight with a smash to the orbit with a pointed elbow. In Golden Glove competition, fighters can stand up and shake it off after a fight. Now that’s a sport. Frankly, I prefer watching athletes, not gladiators. Athletes have heart, gladiators have a death wish. Sorry if that offends you, but would you want your kid brother in a cage with some steroid-raging animal who wants to eat his liver with a side of fava beans? Gimme a break!

Maybe that’s what so impressed me about the Front Street Gym-somebody’s kid brother was there. In fact it was filled with families. People who grew up outside of the city limits may never have known or may have forgotten what it’s like to be laced up tight and close to neighbors and families inside the city limits. There was this Irish family attending the fights--the Gallaghers. Patrick Gallagher knew old friends of my father, so Pat became our personal guide to the ring and the tournament. Through Pat I met the entire Gallagher clan. There seemed to be so many Irish lads standing in one small place that Front Street could have officially been registered as a county in Ireland. The Gallagher Clan was there in support of one of the boys the family was training. Pat Gallagher was nice enough to give me the run down on what was going on in the ring. He explained Golden Glove scoring. He gave us the heads-up about who fought for whose gym, who had good technique and who did not. He explained the Regional and National Level Golden Gloves. The fights were incredibly exciting, but just as exciting as what was happening inside the ropes was what I was witnessing outside the ropes. Like the Gallagher family, there were pockets of families and friends supporting fighters from their own neighborhood gym. Not only were family ties evident in all of the groups from the different gyms—or from their different “crews,” as they like to call them, but what really put me in touch with Philly heart was the diversity of races: black, white and Hispanic all working together in the same crew to help their “boy.” I saw two black trainers working with a young white kid; I saw a white and Hispanic trainer going over moves with a black boxer. These crews were bonded together like they were a family. And each crew treated the others with the kind of respect that defines true sportsmanship. It was inspiring. Even spiritual! It reminded me that ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are really good at heart. There really can be a City of Brotherly Love, and I noticed it’s shining out from the crews at the Golden Gloves on Front Street. Anthony’s own family has been incredibly supportive of his choices. They have been in his corner throughout his career. “In such a rough sport,” a family member wrote me in an e-mail, “We are happy that the good outweighed the bad by far. And as you know, Anthony handles all of his success with class and humility.” That’s the second reason why I was so mesmerized with my City Fight Nights, Anthony never put on an attitude or a persona. He never tried to take from people: he didn’t take credit, he didn’t

L-R: Clement Bethea. R&B Gym, Front Street Gym, Lonnie Jackson Jr, Mike Mackey Winner- Wildwood gym 24 I PhillyFIT

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take attention away from others who deserved it, and he didn’t even concern himself with taking compliments. I realized that having Philly heart and being a real champion is all about giving back, not taking. It was class and humility that I saw, a guy reaching beyond fame, and beyond his own ego—beyond all of it—to tape up the hands and lace up the gloves of another young boy who wants to learn to be a champion even if it means he has to take a few lumps. There was something special about watching Anthony supporting and shaping young boxers. He’s been working in Philly neighborhoods helping any and all young contenders be, not just Golden Glove competitors, but be young champions. Anyone can encourage a kid to throw his hands around in the ring and win a fight. Anyone can manipulate a young mind to develop an edge or a killer instinct. It doesn’t take too much to teach your dog to bite. But it takes a real champion to teach a kid to trade punches, handle wins and losses, even get up after a knock down—all with respect, a sense of real sportsmanship, and even a little brotherly love sprinkled on top. Anthony’s the kind of guy you want your kid brother to meet. No, better; He’s the kind of guy you want the City to meet. Yo, Adrian, meet Anthony Boyle. Rocky ain’t got nothin’ on him!

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Billy Nicgorski is a hair color specialist from Blue a hair studio, in Huntington Valley, PA and a recent recipient of the Wella International Hair Colorist of the Year Award. Contact Billy at [email protected]

MAKE YOUR RESOLUTION NOW TO BECOME

A NEW YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!

Sex

Male

Birth Date

1965-12-07

Division

Lightweight

Nationality

United States

Alias

TKO

Residence

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Birth Place

Philadelphia, PA, USA

Stance

Orthodox

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WON 26 (KO 12) + LOST 6 (KO 4) + DRAWN 1 = 33 MID-ATLANTIC JR. OLYMPIC CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1979.....80 lbs. MID-ATLANTIC JR. OLYMPIC CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1980.....95 lbs. MID-ATLANTIC JR. OLYMPIC CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1981.....106 lbs. REGION II JR. OLYMPIC CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1981.....106 lbs. PHILADELPHIA DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION CHAMPION . .1980.....95 lbs. PHILADELPHIA DEPARTMENT OF RECREATION CHAMPION . .1981.....106 lbs. PENNSYLVANIA STATE GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPION . . . . . .1982.....112 lbs. PENNSYLVANIA STATE GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPION . . . . . .1983.....119 lbs. KEYSTONE STATE GAMES CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1982.....119 lbs. DEL ABF CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1983.....119 lbs. DIAMOND BELT CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1983.....119 lbs. MID-ATLANTIC JR. WORLD CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1983.....119 lbs. REGION II JR. WORLD CHAMPION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1983.....119 lbs. INTERNATIONAL FIGHTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3-0 UNITED STATES vs IRISH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1982.....112 lbs. WIN

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