Teenager finds comfort zone in boxing ring
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Jeremiah Simmons’ life has essentially been very unsettling. Since being in the care of the Department of Children and Family, the 15-year-old has been in three different group homes during the past three years.
But Simmons feels grounded these days since he’s returned for a second time to Tallahassee. This time he is with a foster family.
That’s not all that makes him feel a peace of mind, though. He’s found a boxing gym in the Lincoln Neighborhood Center. Simmons sees it as therapy for coping with the circumstances that led to the state sheltering him.
“I might be a little upset one day and I go to the gym and hit the bag and it’s like 10 pounds lifted off my shoulders,” he said. “It’s a positive workout. It’s beneficial to me.
“I love boxing. I feel in my comfort zone now.”
Although he’s been training in Tallahassee for just a month, trainer Tyrese Williams said Simmons is ready for his first fight. He comes with about six months of training at a gym in Ocala.
The fight on Saturday will be part of an all-amateur show at the National Guard Armory on Capital Circle.
Boxing, Simmons said, put him in a comfort zone and helps him cope with what led to him being in the state’s care. He didn’t want to elaborate, saying only he ended up in his first group home because of “some difficulty with my mom.”
“I don’t like dwelling on the past because then I could make it a negative environment for myself and others,” he said. “I just try to keep steady-minded and think the best about everything if possible.”
Right now the best for Simmons is the home he’s found with Susan Fleming and Hans Gregerson. One of their first assignments was to find a boxing gym for Simmons.
Within two weeks they located the Lincoln Neighborhood Center’s program.
“I was relieved,” he said. “Happy just to see where my skills go.”
Williams said he’s seen enough to predict that Simmons could go far in the sport. He’s strong with fast hands and a solid work ethic, Williams said of the lightweight southpaw who seems comfortable switching to orthodox.
“I don’t have to look over his shoulder or yell at him,” Williams said. “He already knows what to do. He is in there grinding.”
Williams said it didn’t take long after hearing Simmons’ story that boxing meant more than just a way to past time. Especially now that he is in a stable household.
“He is striving to have his own place in life since he has been bouncing around,” Williams said. “He told me he never tries to get too attached to where he is, but when it comes to boxing he really goes in on that. That’s what will hold him and keep him stable. Boxing keeps him grounded.”
Simmons has been dealing with a little eagerness since last week. He was scheduled to have his first fight in an out-of-town tournament but didn’t get a match.
So he waits for this weekend.
“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “Nervous but excited.”