A half-dozen enterprising seniors from St. Ed’s and Vero Beach High School got together to create a joint boxing club that mushroomed into a movement this year when they found that more classmates than expected wanted to participate in what is known colloquially as the “sweet science.”
On any given Wednesday evening, 10 to 15 students from St. Ed’s congregate at Gus Curren’s House of Champions on U.S. 1 to go through training rigorous enough for an emerging amateur or professional prizefighter. The same number from VBHS will be there on Monday evening.
Three girls from St. Ed’s got this thing off the ground. Ryan Deri, Isabella Campione and Caitlin Carrick not only wanted to box, they decided to offer the opportunity to others.
“I started coming here because my friend Isabella told me about it,” Deri explained. “She actually made me come and then I met Matteo (Bordoli) and Karly (Haluch) from Vero Beach High. We started hanging out and decided that we wanted to get our schools involved.
“It started out with Karly and Gavin (D’Elia) with their club at VBHS. When we saw how successful they were, we got St. Ed’s to start up.”
This collaborative effort sprouted into an organized club that made boxing accessible to students from both schools. The effort was initiated by seniors, so it may have legs or just be a one-year phenomenon. Regardless, some of these current practitioners have expressed a desire to continue sparring beyond high school.
“When we decided to get more students at St. Ed’s involved, we went to our administration, presented our plan and asked if we could speak at assemblies,” Carrick said. “We wanted to give our fellow classmates an opportunity to learn a little self-defense, work up a sweat, and hang out with others outside of school as well.
“I started boxing last year and loved it. It was a lot of fun and I would come up to five days a week. We originally shared Mondays with the Vero people, but it got so packed we had to split up. A variety of students participate, some will come every time. A few will miss on occasion, but others will fill their spots.
“Boxing is definitely a great workout. I feel stronger and believe that I could defend myself a little better. I also think boxing is good cross training. I noticed that I have a little more energy in tennis (four seasons on the varsity). My footwork is a little better and I’m able to get to the ball a little quicker. I also tend to be more attentive and aggressive.”
Carrick has already been researching places to box if she decides to land in the Bronx at Fordham University. Deri will choose between the University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Southern California. She is “100 percent sure” she will find a boxing venue in either location.
“I’ve been boxing for a year-and-a-half and truly enjoy it because when I work out by myself I really don’t know what to do,” Deri said. “I love being with different people, not just my friends. I kind of have my own life at boxing, which I love.
“Boxing is logic-based and I like things that way. When you learn how to spar you don’t just go into the ring and fight someone. You start out on the pads and learn what to do and when to do it. It takes a while to make it a reflex, where you don’t have to think anymore.
“The workout is just the best you can get because you are guaranteed to sweat. It’s different than anything else you do. You wouldn’t think so, but it works out all the parts of the body. Boxing is just a more interesting way to do it.”
The training is professionally supervised by Gus Curren. He told us, “I’ve known a lot of these kids since eighth grade or even longer than that. Now a lot of them are going to college – leaving the nest.
“Boxing is not easy. The training is intense and your conditioning goes through the roof. The number one aspect that we promote is that it brings confidence to every aspect of life. These are great kids and they work hard.
“We had a competition between schools involving push-ups, sprints, tire flips, a tug-of-war, everything you could imagine. Some of the kids were shaking and crying. It was really tough, but they all get along and have a good time together. It was good stuff.”
“I love these kids.”