WHEATLAND – In some families it is considered disrespectful to hit your mother, but in the Williams’ household it’s actually encouraged.
Carolyn Teter Williams and her daughter, Icle, both sanctioned boxers with USA Boxing have been handed the keys to a new building in Wheatland for the purpose of resurrecting and rebranding the old Hard Knocks Boxing gym which spent 20 years in a basement with no advertising as to its existence. The new location comes with a new name as Williams has rebranded the boxing gym as Spirit Gloves Boxing and Fitness Center.
The idea is to create a community gym where people of all ages can come to lift, work out and learn the ancient sport of pugilism.
According to Britannica, “The terms pugilism and prizefighting in modern usage are practically synonymous with boxing, although the first term indicates the ancient origins of the sport in its derivation from the Latin pugil, “a boxer,” related to the Latin pugnus, “fist,” and derived in turn from the Greek pyx, “with clenched fist.” The term prizefighting emphasizes pursuit of the sport for monetary gain, which began in England in the 17th century.”
For those who don’t know, and from what friends in Northern Minnesota say, “It’s like hockey, only they don’t let you wear skates or swing a stick.”
For centuries it has been the great equalizer and a way to settle disputes. Both civilized and uncivilized. Although since the inception of cage fighting, the terminology has become a bit hazy.
The Williams’ girls have been involved in boxing for four years and got into it when William’s son, Joshua wanted to learn to box. He pretty much introduced the rest of the family to his passion and although he has laid the gloves down, he passed the torch of passion to his mother and his sister, Icle who was a 7-year-old cheerleader at the time. She has since traded in her pom-poms for boxing gloves.
But not totally as she says that she still cheers also, but boxing takes up over an hour a day for this dedicated youngster. Her mom says that depending on which coach you talk to, she is either a cheerleading boxer or a boxing cheerleader. As a young perfectionist, she has in a very short time, mastered both.
“One night I wanted to go see the gym with my mom,” she said. “Because my brother had started boxing before me. I was seven. I went down there and coach James (Manzanares) asked me why I wasn’t boxing and I told him I was a cheerleader.”
Manzanares then told her it would be fun to have a boxing cheerleader and the rest is pretty much history.
“She started the next night,” Carolyn Williams said. “And she never stopped.”
According to Icle, or “Ice” as her coach calls her, she wanted to just watch, but her brother insisted that she put on gloves and work out.
She remembers vividly her first descending trip down those dark basement stairs to the old gym that rested quietly behind main street down an obscure alley in Wheatland.
“I felt like it was a boxing gym,” Ice said. “If I were to walk into a boxing place, I felt like that’s what it would be. It had these like yellowish lights and all of it was concrete walls and they were all dirty and had names and stuff scratched into the wood bars because there have been so many people down there. Right in the middle was the ring that he built himself.”
Manzanares is somewhat of a local legend who has always been one who had a heart to help the kids of the community.
“He’s been silently running Hard Knocks for probably 20 years,” Carolyn Williams said. “He’s never advertised one day and never talked about it. You either know he’s there or you don’t. And you take your kids, or you don’t, but he never charged a kid a dime.”
Wanting to take a step back, Manzanares tried to hand the reigns over to a younger coach, but it didn’t work out.
Williams who has had Manzanares as her mentor and coach for four years has found that boxing transformed her life. She not only changed the way she worked out, but also changed her nutritional strategy and has lost excess weight, gained new stamina and now is the owner of a revamped enterprise that will help others achieve their training goals in Platte County.
“When I took over the gym just a week ago, the keys were handed to me, I promised Coach James that it might be a slow start, but it will be a sure start. I have a kid’s boxing coach in mind to train a few more kids that are serious about it”
Although Williams is a USA Boxing sanctioned coach and judge which is where her passion lies so she will mainly be running the facility and will not be doing any of the training. Williams is also the secretary for the USA Wyoming Boxing Association.
“Before committing to the sport, I can remember the specific tournament that I went to, watching my daughter and I was feeling totally useless,” Williams said. “Coach James looked at me and told me to change the situation. That’s all it took.”
She watched Manzanares train kids, began to train herself, changed here eating habits and now she runs the boxing gym. All the equipment was built or installed by Manzanares and after weeks of cleaning, the gym is going to experience first a soft opening and then a grand opening.
The Williams family has been working as a team cleaning, arranging and getting ready for the athletes that will embody the next generation of training in Platte County.
If you need any information about the gym you can message Carolyn Teter Williams at her Facebook page.