A Connecticut boxer hopes to be crowned No. 1 in the United States next week.
Mykquan Williams, 16, has already won several titles, but the upcoming competition is his shot at the Junior Olympics.
Williams and his coach, Paul Cichon, are in their final days of training at the Manchester Ring of Champions Society, a non-profit boxing club.
They’ve trained together for eight years and are trying for first place at USA Boxing’s Junior Olympic National Championships.
“It’s huge, real, real huge. Like, there’s a lot of other kids trying to fight and win to be in the same position that I’ll hopefully be in,” Williams said.
“If he wins this, then he’ll go on to the Junior Olympic team, and he could fight in Russia. He could, you know, travel, so it’s really, really huge,” said Cichon.
Williams competed at the same tournament last June, but his jabs, crosses and hooks didn’t make the cut. He placed second.
“At first I was upset, but I’m never like a poor sport,” Williams said. “You just come back to the gym and work harder.”
And he has, said Cichon, especially working on his strategy.
“We had a game plan mapped out, and he just didn’t do it, so I can honestly say that day he got beat,” said Cichon. “He’s stronger this year. He’s a year smarter this year. We’ll see how it goes.”
And if it goes south, they’ll be disappointed.
Next year, Williams will be too old to qualify for the Junior Olympics. The year after that, he’ll be too young to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Still, the duo said they’ll never regret the years they’ve spent sweating together in and out of the ring.
“Outside of boxing, he’s like father. Does things you wouldn’t even think of. He’s a good guy,” said Williams of Cichon. The teen lost his father as a baby.
“This is a kid that really knows what he wants and what it takes, and I think he really has a shot at making it big,” said Cichon, who said he loves Williams.
He said he plans to retire from his day job in about nine months and train Williams full time.
To learn more about the Manchester Ring of Champions Society and how to donate, click here to visit the club’s Facebook page.