Interview by Nick Kellis and photography by Jay Phillips, courtesy of The Heartland Image Foundation
On Saturday, December 19, The Hometown Heroes boxing tournament at the VFW Hall brought young boxers from all over Ohio and Indianapolis to Lima, to compete at an event sponsored by Lonnie Rettig of Southside Spartans Boxing gym. Boxing legend and former heavyweight champion of the world Buster Douglas was on hand, coaching two young boxers from Columbus.
Rettig, Lima Sertoma Club’s Sertoman Of The Year, said “We travel all year long, so it’s great to be competing in our home town, on our home turf.
“It’s good to see such a great turn out from around the region. This is the type of visibility we hope to bring to Lima and increase year-to-year, as we go forward.”
Rettig is in the process of transferring his small gym that currently serves 40 young boxers into a bigger facility that will serve at least double that. “We’re keeping kids off the streets, serving our area by teaching young men to become responsible adults as they become fathers and husbands and contribute to our community.”
Douglas, who was the only boxer to ever knock out Mike Tyson and assume the heavyweight championship in the 90s, said he’s become a coach over the last year at the request of the mayor of Columbus, to coach the city’s youth boxing team.
“It’s my first time here bringing the kids,” Douglas said. “What I heard about it, it’s true. Great crowd. Great opportunity to gain some experience, see another part of Ohio.
“This is grass roots. This is where I started. This is giving back and helping out the next generation.”
Douglas also said he hoped to work in a visit to The Kewpee on his way out town.
Photos courtesy Heartland Image Foundation.