The sport of boxing dates back to ancient Rome, Greece and perhaps even to ancient Egypt.
On June 6, two figures stood mid-ring, artistically bobbin’ weavin’ slippin’ slidin’ floatin’ stingin’ and sometimes toe-to-toe.
It was a bright shinny day. The sun’s light, shining thought large glass picture windows lit up the enormous state-of-the-art, highly equipped gymnasium. The place is Element Fitness. The two men were Dalton Outlaw, and Tony “2 Sharpe” Lee. Both men seek their place in history, putting St. Paul back on the international boxing map.
Element Fitness and Boxing, LLC is a first class, finely equipped, state of the art gym. It amazes community elders that Outlaw, aka, “Face,” a young man, a new father, still in his twenties can own, build and operate such an industrious complex.
Thomas “Coach Ali” Williams, a most incredible, ingenious, trainer gently shouted out instructions.
Suddenly a bell rang. All activity stopped. Williams called out, “hard work.” The entire gym echoed with the response, “Dedication.” After three calls and responses, the bell rang and aggressive activity resumed.
But back to mid-ring, a local drama unfolded before people’s very eyes. At high noon two tall lean figures had entered, toting gym bags across their shoulders – Otis Gage, trainer, and world-class contender, Lee, ranked 23rd in the U.S.
Lee, considered the most exciting fighting prospect north of the Pecos River, was in need of the high tech sophisticated sparing action that Element Boxing provides. His record of 10 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw, underrepresents his great potential, because his last two opponents cancelled out at the last minute. Simply put, opponents seem to dodge him.
But hold on … wait a minute. Outlaw, the other figure in the ring is undefeated with a professional record of four and zero. His trainer, two-time boxing champion, is another of St Paul’s own, Will “Steal-Will” Grigsby. Grigsby expects Outlaw to become St Paul’s next world champion.
But if that wasn’t enough, Outlaw and Lee engaged in three grueling rounds of classic, yet electrifying boxing. But just when the excitement appeared to be over, spectators were in for a most unexpected surprise.
In came 19-year-old lightweight amateur, Yahya Abdullahi, a most refreshing, pleasant young man. With a greased up boxing helmet, and gloved up hands, he stepped into the ring, taking Daltons’ place for an additional three rounds.
At first, it seemed reasonable that Lee took it easy on the young talented up comer. But no, Abdullahi skillfully pressed Lee, and gave him no choice but to come on with it. The sparing was intense. The two honored one another’s talents and abilities with almost full throttled escalation. Abdullahi displayed articulated technique, his execution impeccable, reminded one spectator of a young boxing ex-champion, Howard Davis. The young warrior, bounced back magnificently, giving Lee the workout he needed.
After a lingering silence, gym activity slowly resumed. Lee returned to his corner. Gage watered his fighter, wiped him down with a fresh dry towel and joked what most were thinking: “Next time there will be an admittance fee just to watch these athletes spar,” said Gage.
Lee, the 2015 junior welterweight North American Boxing Union Champion, possesses a rare duality of flashing hand speed along with stunning stopping power, reminiscent of both Sugars: Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard. But Lee, a bone marrow transplant survivor, more than anything wants the world to know that boxing is a means of using God-given gifts to be the best he can be. Family comes first.
“Boxing is what I do. Not who I am,” said Lee.
His next bout will be held on June 27 at Mounds View’s Allegiance Fitness Center, 2240 Wooddale Drive.