OSAWATOMIE — Boys and girls are learning a lot of things in the ring with the Osawatomie Boxing Club.
Coach Karl Kroen shares a passion for boxing and offers more than instruction on how to box, but really lifelong lessons.
Kroen grew up boxing. It has helped him be the man he is today, and the club is one way he is giving back to the sport that gave him so much.
Kroen was a Golden Gloves Champion at the age of 14. He still boxes, recently competing in Masters Tournaments in 2010 and 2012.
AJ Kane, a third-grader at Sunflower Elementary School in Paola, won his first bout as a member of the club and is training for his second.
Being part of the club is teaching him not only how to box and defend himself, but also about being a good person, said his mother, Lacey Kane.
“Anyone who knows AJ knows he is high energy, all about sports and can be just a tad bit ornery,” she said. “Boxing has been such a great experience for him, because he isn’t just learning how to box, he is learning lessons that will stay with him for a lifetime. One of the very first things coach Karl told the kids was that boxers were gentlemen. They used good manners and take care of themselves and others. That really stuck with AJ.
“It has been such a great thing for him, not only for the physical component, but also to channel his emotions and express them in an appropriate setting under the guidance of his coach,” Kane said. “Boxing is teaching him self-defense, accountability and responsibility. We are so grateful to Karl and the OZone for bringing this program to our community.”
While it is a new program, the Osawatomie Boxing Club is growing fast.
More than a dozen children and their parents stopped by Osawatomie High School on Saturday, Oct. 16, for a special introductory session from the boxing club.
The Osawatomie Boxing Club trains at the high school using the OZone entrance. The club is offering a six-week introductory session. the program and introductory session are supported by the Osawatomie Recreation Commission.
The Osawatomie Boxing Club is designed to teach the sport of amateur boxing to kids ages 8-18 to gain confidence, skills, and healthy exercise.
Boxing is not just for boys either. More and more girls are getting into the sport, and it has much to offer them as well, Kroen said.
“We welcome both girls and boys to join,” he said. “The popularity of female fighters is growing very fast.”
Liz Collett, a seventh-grader at Prairie View got into the sport through her school and is training with the Osawatomie Boxing Club.
“My favorite part about the club is probably how much I am pushed to my limit,” Liz said. “I do not have one, but it is fun to be pushed hard. Boxing is hard, yes, but it is also really fun, and our coaches are awesome.
“I have learned a lot,” she said. “Boxing has made me more confident just to talk to people. I used to feel held back and scared, but since I have started boxing I have really opened up and not been that scared little kid.”
“We are sanctioned by USA Boxing and our coaches are certified through USA Boxing,” Kroen said.
Kroen has a Bronze Level Coaching certificate from USA Boxing. He is training to get his Silver Level Coaching certificate.
He has many years of experience in amateur boxing. Kroen knows the safety measures, the skills it takes, and the coaching experience to help kids be successful.
Participants have the option of being entered into competitive bouts as their training progresses, Kroen said.
Students at the club and those attending the demonstration had the opportunity to train with punching bags, jump ropes and practice a helicopter drill where one boxer holds his arms straight out on either side and the other ducks under the arms as they pass by.
Boxers use head gear and large gloves in practice for safety due to the contact nature of the sport.
“Amateur boxing is one of the safest amateur sports there is,” Kroen said. “It is highly supervised and regulated. Our coaches are certified to train. This is not a fight club. This is a boxing gym.”
Practices are 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Saturdays are 10:30 a.m. to noon. The practices start with group training, calisthenics and skill building. The second part of practice is individual work, form mastery and going through stations. The third part of practice is partner-training, working on footwork and coordination skills, and the more advanced kids that are ready get to spar one on one with constant supervision.
An initial six-week course is organized through The Ozone Recreation Center.
Following the initial six weeks, continuing on with the boxing program is organized through head coach Karl Kroen.
The Oz Amature Boxing Club is a not-for-profit organization that is registered with USA Boxing, the regulating body for amateur boxing in the USA.
“The funds paid monthly will go into a savings account as we save up for our own ring to host fights here in Osawatomie,” Kroen said.
Sanctioned fights require a certain uniform code. The fighter/parents must supply the following: uniform: $40-$60; USA Boxing-approved headgear: $60-$80; USA Boxing registration for the boxer: $65; and cup/protector: $15.
These are all one-time costs and going forward in more fights there are no more costs like these. There is no entry fee for competing in bouts.
On occasion, the club will be making road trips for competition tournaments. Travel expenses fall on the responsibility of the parents/fighters. Overnight stays may be involved with some of the events.
The club announced practice cancellations on its facebook page, Oz Boxing Club, which is posted by 3 p.m. on practice days.
Volunteer coaches are needed and appreciated. It does not take much knowledge to help coach this sport. Volunteer coaches get their child’s fee waived for their time contribution. It is a great way to help your child and other kids as well, Kroen said.