By G. Anthonie Riis | Fort Knox NewsMay 15, 2019
Pryce Sparrow recently won the Indiana/Kentucky State Junior Olympic Boxing title and is slated to compete in the Regional Junior Olympics in Toledo, Ohio during this Memorial Day weekend.
The 12-year-old, who began training a little more than two years ago when his father set up a boxing gym in their garage, competes in the 80lb weight class and is considered one of the top junior amateur boxers in the country.
Sparrow gained an interest in boxing after seeing his father box, but it wasn't until bullying incidents at school that he asked to join his father in the boxing gym.
"I was being bullied in the third grade, and after school that summer we attended a summer camp at the YMCA," Pryce said. "The boxing gym was right beside it. I kept begging my day to take me to the gym. He wouldn't let me go at first, but I kept asking.
"Finally, he took me and I've been in love with it ever since."
Kelvin Sparrow, Pryce's father, was no stranger to a boxing gym having picked up the sport as a young man, but he wasn't sure it was the right fit for his son.
"I came to boxing late, and I started boxing in my late teens and twenties. Things began to happen, but I decided to settle down and start a family. I came for the discipline of the sport because it was something constructive to do." Kelvin said. "I wasn't sure how he would do, but when we got there he wanted to spar right away … after he finished one the coaches kinda said in my ear, 'If he comes back tomorrow, he's got something -- he's a fighter.'"
That first exposure started something in Pryce, and Kelvin caught the vision.
"I began to see what needed to be applied and what needed to be worked on and it gave me that coaching feel," Kelvin said. "A lot of boxers that come through the ranks have that amateur pedigree. They have an uncle or a dad [who boxed] and that shows in the gym. I didn't have that, but I knew how to fight.
"It wasn't the smoothest transition [to boxing], but it was not hard for me to make."
Kelvin found that he had a natural ability to coach, and coupled with what he describes as Pryce's God-given natural abilities, the duo have become a winning combination.
"What he has is something you can't teach. You can't teach grit, and you can't teach someone to be a tough guy," said Kelvin. "When you have someone come along who's naturally tough, who knows how to dig deep and has a work ethic -- he's a natural.
"I won't say he's a natural boxer, but he's a natural who was made for boxing -- he has the flash of that in him."
But, Kelvin is quick to say he's not just training a boxer - he's raising a son.
"When you have any young person as talented as Pryce, I don't want to focus my attention totally on something he may not want to be when he's older," Kelvin said. "I want to challenge him and all my children, and not just with this, but I want to challenge him to be the best friend he can be or go be the best whatever you can be.
"I can say this. He's got a lot of growing to do, but he's mature for his age, and he's growing to be my hero."
Kelvin said that while bullying might have motivated both he and his son to the boxing gym he is proud of his son's record outside of the ring.
"He's had more than forty fights inside of the ring, and he's yet -- not even close to getting into a fist fight outside of a boxing ring," Kelvin said, "It's given him a confidence that he knows about himself and others seem to pick up on. It's never been an issue since."
It's something that Kelvin wants to share outside of his family.
"I've gone through [the necessary process] and it looks like soon we'll be able to have our first boxing camp here," said Kelvin. "I want to invest in young men and women to show them that boxing can be fun without 'playing.' I want to teach them to be calm in what some people think is a storm.
"Come in. Learn some strategies and tactics that will build your confidence."
Ryan Lewis, a sports director with Fort Knox said that Coach Sparrow and Youth Sports and Fitness Boxing Training Academy will conduct their first boxing camp July 15-19 which will be open to children aged 3-18 who are registered with Child & Youth Services. The non-contact camp will focus on the skills and conditioning needed to succeed in boxing.