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Local boxers land their punches

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a take-no-prisoners business trip for five local boxers.

The young fighters who train at Back 2 Basics Boxing and Fitness in LaGrange traveled to Madison, Wisc. in June for the USA Boxing National Junior Olympics.

Two of the local boxers finished first, two others placed second, and a third battled to a third-place finish despite dealing with a shoulder injury.

“It was all about the training, and the preparation, and getting ready, because everybody (they faced) was good,” said Randy Hardaway, who owns Back 2 Basics and trains the fighters. “Our team, everybody medaled, even the little ones, and it was their first time. It was a big accomplishment.”

For three of the boxers, competing at a high level is nothing new.

Sisters Shamiracle Hardaway and Dymond Hardaway, along with Javon Harris, have been boxing for at least five

years.

Axel Cooper and Zechariah Hudson, both of whom are 8-years-old, came into the national tournament with less than five bouts under their belts, but the lack of experience didn’t bother them.

Cooper won his division to bring home the gold medal, and Hudson fell short in the championship match to place second.

“This was their first time going to a tournament, and this is the highest level, and they’re taking what they learned, and all of the pushing we’re doing, and the training twice a day, and for them to get in the ring and hear our voices over all the noise and to perform like that, is impressive,” Hardaway said.

For 13-year-old Shamiracle Hardaway and 11-year-old Dymond Hardaway, it was more of the same.

The sisters have accumulated numerous championships over the years, and when they’re not winning, they’re right in the mix.

In the Junior Olympics, Shamiracle Hardaway won the championship for a second consecutive year, and Dymond Hardaway finished second.

Javon Harris, who is 13-years-old, enjoyed a successful tournament as well, overcoming a shoulder injury to secure a third-place finish on the heels of last year’s second-place result.

Hardaway was proud of the way Harris gutted things out, even when he wasn’t at 100 percent physically.

“His second fight was a real tough fight,” Hardaway said. “After the second round, we knew it was close, and I had to tell him to dig deep.

“In the midst of me telling him to dig deep, his thing was, I don’t even care about my shoulder any more coach. And he went straight for him and won the fight. It was very impressive.”

Achieving this level of success doesn’t happen by accident.

The boxers train hard at the gym, sometimes twice a day, and they have a group of coaches who push them to be their best.

“They’re here honing their skills, being disciplined, and the adults are here to support them,” said Leonard Harris, who coaches the fighters along with Hardaway. “These young kids are doing great things.”

Harris added that “it’s like a family. We’re all taking care of one another, in and outside of the gym.”

Harris noted that in addition to succeeding in the ring, the boxers are also excelling in the class room, with each of them boasting high grade point averages.

“These are straight A kids,” Harris said. “None of them are struggling when it comes to grades.”

Each of them have other activities they’re involved in, ranging from cross country to the school orchestra.

Boxing doesn’t take a back seat, though, and Hardaway said none of them have to be pushed to take the sports seriously.

“These kids, this is what they love to do,” Hardaway said. “They want to be here. We don’t make these kids do it, I don’t make my daughters do it. They want to do it. That’s the amazing part about it.”

OF NOTE: To contribute financially to help the boxers participate in different tournaments, call Randy Hardaway at (706) 616-7459