By Riley Manning
TUPELO – The kids at the Tupelo Police Athletic League’s summer boxing camp have jabbed, hooked, bobbed and slipped their way through the week, picking up skills as useful out of the ring as in.
“I really wanted to give the kids some sense of discipline and respect,” said coach Grady Hurley. “And if they learn to throw a perfect three-punch combination on the way, that’s all the better.”
Starting on Monday, Hurley, along with fellow coach Lance Hood, walked the 15 or so young boxers through the most basic aspects of the sport.
Camper McKinley Williams, 14, said the camp was his first experience with a pair of Everlasts and a punching bag.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “I like the adrenaline and the excitement, getting a little bit better every day. The hardest part for me has been blocking, but I’m going to stick with it.”
The older campers, like Williams, got the opportunity to work side-by-side with younger campers, like Amya Pegues, 7.
“It makes me tired but I learned a lot,” she said. “I’m a tough little girl.”
Hurley and Hood said the camp was a great way to recruit kids for PAL’s regular boxing classes after school during the year.
“We teach all the basic things you can teach in a week,” Hood said. “Hopefully, we can get two or three for the after-school program who will be dedicated.”
Lasting from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., the camp has required Hurley and Hood’s full attention.
“The parents have been incredibly understanding and trusting of us,” Hurley said. “The thing about boxing is, you can be either a positive effect on the group or a negative one, but you can’t be neither.”
The camp was PAL’s first program in their new facilities, located on Douglas Street behind the Link Centre. Though the area designated for boxing is smaller than their previous location, Hurley and Hood said they were pleased with it because the boxing program has its own room separate from other sports. Hood said regular practices would begin a few weeks after school starts in August.