BY MICHAEL KELLY
SCHENECTADY — The first time that Tyler Wells climbed through the ropes at the Ring of Hope Boxing Club at Crosstown Plaza, the Niskayuna High School sophomore was a little apprehensive about what he had gotten himself into during his football offseason.
After a little time sparring, though, Wells realized he was having more fun than anything else. With a smile, he recalled a realization during his first fight experience that still surprises him a bit.
“You find out after a while that you really can take a couple punches once you get in there and the adrenaline starts flowing,” he said. “Once you know what you’re doing, you can take some punches — and dish some out, too.”
Wells started training three days a week for his new sport just about five months ago. The 16-year-old said he started his training alongside his older brother Chris Wells, with workouts usually lasting a few hours.
“It’s definitely different,” said Tyler Wells, who grew up playing more conventional sports, such as basketball and baseball, and played junior varsity football this past fall for Niskayuna.
“I was thinking I’d just be running and jumping rope, but it’s definitely more than you’d think,” he continued. “This is hard work.”
The coaches at the gym make sure new fighters know the sport is not only about the glory they see at the highest level. Vince Kittle is the main coach at Wells’ gym, but a series of other coaches oversee the gym’s competitors. Anthony Acevedo, who was working Feb. 12 with Wells, said the coaches drill into their students that the sport’s reality is not for the faint at heart. Acevedo boxed himself and became a volunteer coach at the gym after a torn retina ended his active career.
“Listen,” Acevedo said he tells new fighters, “you have to understand that boxing is about getting hit. You don’t have to [always] get hit, but that is the process. … You can’t lie to yourself and say you’re not going to get hit.”
That does not intimidate Wells, though, who said his favorite aspect of boxing is the contact. He hopes to play varsity football this upcoming fall for the Silver Warriors, but said boxing has become his passion during recent months.
“The training for this is great because it gets you in shape, but I want to go compete,” he said.
Wells’ first fight is still a ways away; if things go to plan, he said, he will take his first fight in a few months. The 180-pounder wants to be able to cut to 165 pounds to fight, and he said his motivation to get in the right shape for a bout only increased when a pair of boxers from his gym recently made a national splash; Schenectady teenagers Nasir Mayfield and Jah-Yae Brown won their divisions at the National Silver Gloves championships in Independence, Mo., in early February.
“Sparring with them is very scary because they’re national champs right now,” said Wells, smiling. “They’re a big motivator for me. I look up to them.”