By David Hughes
TERRE HAUTE — Those who followed Terry Ray’s pro boxing career in the 1990s might remember that he didn’t mind getting punched in the head too much.
A veteran of several nationally televised bouts and former cruiserweight champion of the World Boxing Federation, he could take it and he could dish it out, even when bleeding.
Ray is retired now. But his son, 13-year-old Tucker Ray, appears to be a chip off the old block as he continues his amateur boxing career.
Tucker and four other amateurs will represent the Terre Haute Boxing Club (THBC) in the Indiana Golden Gloves state tournament, which starts next Thursday evening in Indianapolis’ Tyndall Armory. More than 200 boxers are entered. Action will run for six consecutive Thursdays through April 17.
Having already won one Golden Gloves state title and one Silver Gloves state title, Tucker Ray (6-0) will compete in the Junior Division featherweight or lightweight class.
A typical youngster in some ways, Tucker also enjoys playing basketball and tennis. So his life doesn’t always revolve around boxing.
But when he does step in the ring, he takes it seriously.
“He’s always ready to fight,” Terre Haute Boxing Club trainer Billy Reese said during Tucker’s training session Wednesday inside Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. “When it’s time to fight, he’s ready.”
“I’ve gotten a lot bigger and a lot stronger [since this time last year],” mentioned Tucker Ray, who has grown to 5 feet, 9 inches tall. “I’ve learned a lot from my dad… I just need to work on my defense and keeping my hands up.”
“He’s a lot like his dad. He likes to take punches,” Terry Ray added with a chuckle. “He needs to work on that.”
But Terry sees plenty of positives in Tucker’s boxing style.
“His power has increased so much, it’s amazed me,” the proud pop pointed out. “He’s coming along. It’s going to take time. I’m not going to push him.”
Reese mentioned the other four THBC athletes entered in the 2008 Golden Gloves:
• Barry Sury (2-8) of Terre Haute will compete in the Novice Division super-heavyweight class. This is his second year in the Golden Gloves.
• Alex Schaefer (1-0) will make his Golden Gloves debut in the Sub-Novice Division super-heavyweight class. An Indiana State University sophomore from Fort Wayne, he joined the THBC in November.
n Steve Bekkering (0-1) of Clinton will make his Golden Gloves debut in the Junior Open Division heavyweight class. He joined the THBC last summer. Reese said Bekkering also enjoys playing soccer.
• Dan Iddins (1-0) will make his Golden Gloves debut in the Junior Open Division light-heavyweight class. He’s an ISU sophomore from the Indianapolis area. Reese said Iddins wants to become a commercial airline pilot someday.
Reese noted that the drawing for Golden Gloves opponents will take place this weekend.
In 2007, the Terre Haute Boxing Club ended up with five state champions, including Tucker Ray, and five state runners-up.
Not surprisingly, Tucker would like to repeat as champ.
“I’m not going to take it for granted,” the Honey Creek Middle School seventh-grader insisted. “I’m going to do my best.”
Ringside tickets for all six Golden Gloves sessions, priced at $60 apiece, may be purchased by calling Jason Spears at (317) 838-7436 or by e-mailing him at email@example.com. Single-session ringside tickets may be purchased for $10 or $12 at the door on each night of the tournament.
On a related note, Reese said Ryves Youth Center will be host for the Indiana Junior Olympics boxing tournament April 26-27.
For ticket and other information on that tournament, call Jim Edwards at the Ryves Youth Center at (812) 235-1265.
David Hughes can be reached by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.