TERRE HAUTE —
Remember Trevon Childs?
Terre Haute South fans might recall him as a slightly undersized forward in basketball, occasionally using his leaping ability to turn alley-oop passes from teammates Zach and Jake Odum into rim-shaking dunks, and as a running back and safety in football before he graduated from high school in 2008.
He also ran sprints for the Braves’ track and field team, but now his focus is on a different sport.
At 24, the 6-foot, 200-pound Childs is a two-time Indiana Golden Gloves state champion in amateur boxing.
On April 17, he overpowered Jon Gin Choi from the Blaze Boxing team by technical knockout at the 1:13 mark of Round 2 inside Indianapolis’ Tyndall Armory to capture the novice heavyweight title for the second straight year. To reach the championship bout, Childs had defeated an Indianapolis opponent by decision earlier in the tournament.
Childs represented Terre Haute’s Sweatbox Gym, which is where the Tribune-Star caught up with him sparring against trainer James Porter — himself a pro boxer — late last week.
“I basically relaxed,” Childs said of how he was able to do so well against Gin Choi, the same foe he needed a three-round decision to beat for the state crown in 2013.
“I just focused on everything we talked about during my training at Sweatbox Gym. I hit him with a few uppercuts. One, in particular, dazed him. I saw his eyes get kinda crossed. That’s when I hopped on him and went to work. He had already had two standing-eight counts before that. That’s when the referee stopped the bout.”
Childs admits he was somewhat concerned about how successful he’d be in the 2014 Golden Gloves because he had taken a six-month break from competition before the tournament.
“It was rewarding [to win], but I still feel like there’s a long road to travel,” he mentioned. “There’s still more work that needs to be done. This is not all I’m trying to pursue in the sport of boxing.”
As an amateur with other life responsibilities, Childs is limited on how much time he can spend on boxing. He’s attended Indiana State University and now he’s seeking a degree in business administration from Vincennes University. He also works as a sales consultant at Verizon Wireless in Terre Haute.
So Childs has plans for his future, although he’d really like that future to include a career in pro boxing.
“I would hope within the next two to three years,” he figures, “if everything keeps progressing as it has been.”
“He has a great opportunity to do that [go pro after competing in the Golden Gloves open division in 2015],” Porter assessed. “He’s exciting to watch and that would help make him a good pro fighter in the future.”
Childs — who admired Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier, James Toney, Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a youngster — didn’t start boxing himself until about two years ago when he stumbled onto Sweatbox Gym.
Then he quickly learned it wasn’t as easy as it may have looked on television.
“Getting in conditioning for this sport was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in athletics,” Childs reflected. “I’m much, much better now than I was two years ago.”
“He’s come pretty far,” Porter confirmed. “He’s improved a whole lot. From month to month and from week to week, he seems to get better and better. He’s a good, hard-working young man who does everything right.”
In addition to Porter, assistant trainer Gary Smith and former World Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion Terry Ray have offered Childs ring tips that have proven useful.
“He’s built much different than me [more muscular],” Porter continued. “You try to teach each person to box according to his body build. … But hopefully some of my mental toughness will wear off on him.”
In Porter’s opinion, the sky is the limit for Childs.
“As long as he gets up and does his work and takes care of his body, he can go as far as anybody — world champion even, a gold medal [in the Summer Olympics],” the veteran boxer/trainer said. “I think all things are possible.”
So what does Childs need to work on to reach his goals?
“Keeping his head up and keeping his hands up,” Porter replied. “He’s still a young fighter, so he still has a lot to learn.”
Other representatives of Sweatbox Gym made their marks in the recent Indiana Golden Gloves tournament at Indianapolis.
In the 165-pound weight class of the open divison, 24-year-old Justin Smith of Sweatbox advanced to the championship match, where he lost to Iziah Dent of the Sarge Johnson team by TKO at the 2:59 mark of Round 3 on April 17.
“Justin did a great job,” Porter said. “He won two fights to get to the finals and one of the guys he beat was a national Silver Gloves champion in the past.”
In the sub-novice super-heavyweight division, two Sweatbox members faced each other in the finals April 10 as ISU student Jonathan Neel of Martinsville decisioned Zach Carpenter 5-0.
“Everybody we entered in the tournament made it to the finals,” Porter pointed out. “That felt good. That’s the first time we’ve ever done that.”
Porter estimated that he’s been taking teams to the Golden Gloves state tournament for about 15 years.