Golden Glove

Special to the Opelika Observer

KageFit boxer makes it to national competition

By Morgan Bryce
Staff Reporter

T.J. Lawson, a boxer who trains at Opelika fitness facility KageFit, has burst onto the national scene, following a triumphant run to the National Golden Gloves Tournament in Lafayette, La. earlier this month.
After winning the state leg of the competition, Lawson went on to win two matches and claim the Golden Glove’s southern regional title, before losing in the first round of the national tournament to Jose Camacho in a 4-1 decision.
Shane Mills, KageFit co-owner and boxing instructor, said Lawson’s toughness and intelligence are the biggest reasons for his success.
“When T.J. walked in the door, he didn’t know anything about boxing … but he was tough. He’s very athletic and extremely hard working,” Mills said. “And he was just like a sponge. He kept absorbing and absorbing everything I could teach him … and just after a year of training, I felt like he was ready to compete.”
Originally from New York, Lawson said he and his mother moved to Tuscaloosa when he was three years old to help take care of his grandmother. His interest in boxing started as a child, watching pay-per-view fights of Floyd Mayweather, one of the sport’s all-time greats.
“He was so good, and a lot of fun to watch,” Lawson said.
Nine years later, Lawson lost his mother, who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend. He said this was a turning point in his life.
“We had a very close bond, everywhere she was, I was. Losing her really hurt me … it was like I lost a piece of me. But it motivated me, because I feel like she’s always watching … so I always wanted to do better, get better and help everyone around me get better,” Lawson said.
After graduating from Tuskegee University with a master’s degree in occupational therapy, Lawson started boxing at KageFit, and said he quickly learned how challenging the sport can be.
“The only thing (playing) football helped out with was my footwork, but being aggressive like you have to be in football, that’s not a good thing in boxing. Football is a straight-ahead sport, and you cut angles here and there, but in boxing, you are finessing angles and you’re always going in a circle,” Lawson said.
After a year of learning the basics, Mills observed that Lawson was ready for competition.
Traveling across the Southeast to various boxing tournaments, Lawson dominated, winning his first five fights and moving from novice to elite status.
Now with nine matches and a regional title under his belt, Mills said Lawson is nearly ready for professional caliber competition.
“For the next year, we’re going to keep him in the amateur ranks and try to give him as much experience as we can … and after that, he’ll probably turn pro,” Mills said.
No matter where his boxing career leads him, Lawson said he hopes his story inspires others in similar circumstances that anything is possible with the Lord’s help and hard work.
“I’m not just doing this for myself … I’m doing this for the children that are less fortunate than I am, and to inspire them and let them know that if I can make it, they can make it too. I was in one of the toughest situations … but God gives His toughest battles to His strongest soldiers, and I’m still here, still pushing forward,” Lawson said.
To keep up with Lawson’s boxing career, like and follow KageFit’s Facebook page. For more information, call (334) 363-2727. The business is located at 3613 Pepperell Parkway.


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