Young Boxer Cooper Fighting to be the Best
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Rashod Cooper wanted to make sure his passion for boxing wasn’t misunderstood.
He tightly clinched a pair of black boxing gloves on his hands. With every word, he flicked them out as if he was shadowboxing.
“It’s just something I love,” he said, sitting in a hallway at the Lincoln Neighborhood Boxing Club. “I used to watch boxing in our living room with my dad and I thought it would be something I could do every day.”
He’s been doing just that for three years now, compiling a record of five wins and five losses as a welterweight (145-pound) boxer. The 20-year-old hopes to get his sixth win this Saturday when his team stages an amateur boxing show at the Armory.
Cooper, who comes from a functional household, isn’t the kind of young man that the Lincoln Center club commonly attracts. For most of the other boxers the club is their refuge from a life on the streets.
Some come for awhile and others stay for years, said Tyrese Williams, trainer at the club that is located in the heart of Frenchtown. The community is home to many of the kind of young people that the city-sponsored program wants to attract.
“Anyway we can, we reach out and grab one; maybe two or three to get their attention and let them know there is a better way,” said Williams, himself a survivor of life on the streets. “You can reach higher goals and you don’t have to reach them in the streets.
“Street credibility only lands you in prison, jail or early death. We have enough young black men who are filling up the prison system.”
While Cooper is an exception, Williams said Cooper’s presence is a huge help in getting the club’s message across to the troubled young men who join. Cooper has helped to show others the benefits of relying on family instead of influences on the streets.
“We need our family support,” Williams said. “We need our aunts and uncles. We need that bigger brother that says don’t give up and keep reaching for the goals that you’re trying to reach. That’s the key point that’s missing in some young man or young girl’s life.”
It’s family support that got Cooper into boxing, although he said it took some time to persuade his parents that boxing is something he wanted to do.
“They thought I was going through a phase,” he said, “but eventually they finally said OK because I really wanted to box.”
He’d tried basketball and football at Lincoln High School before making boxing the only sport he practices.
“It didn’t work out for me so I decided to try this,” he said, raising the boxing gloves strapped to his hands.
Cooper developed a passion for boxing at an early age while regularly watching fights with his father, Rico. He said he concentrated on several boxers’ styles but nothing captivated him like two of the best former champions, Roy Jones, Jr., and Bernard Hopkins.
He’s crafted his style from both and meshed it with that of his all-time favorite, Floyd Mayweather.
All with a sense of purpose, of course.
“I want to be an elite fighter on the big stage one day,” he said. “That’s all I want.”