- By Jason Dougas Lewis
- In Boxing
A revolutionary program in a state of the art Carson gym is bringing great athletic ability back to the heavyweight division.
Dominic Breazeale’s athletic career was nearly over when he did not make it to the NFL as a quarterback out of the University of Northern Colorado, but his 6-7, 270 pound frame is perfect for the sport of boxing.
Photo by Peter Politanoff (AAH)
Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)
Over the past couple of decades boxing has slid from a premiere sport to a hand full of big time events per year that appeases a niche audience. Middle and lightweight divisions of boxing have survived and flourished at times, but with larger athletes going to play football and basketball, the heavyweight division has become devoid of talent.
Television producer Michael King, whose King World Productions, Inc. held properties that included The Oprah Winfrey Show, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, Dr. Phil and Inside Edition, is a big time sports fan who always had a love for boxing. King came up with a revolutionary idea to supply the heavy weight division with some of the best athletes that this country has to offer.
With youth boxing programs on the decline, and nearly disappearing, the talent pool for the sport is at an all time low, especially in the heavy weight division. So King turned to the NCAA for a vast talent pool of some of the biggest and strongest athletes in the nation.
Through All-American Heavyweights (AAH), King has reached out to several athletes who ended their college football or basketball eligibility without a professional career.
“They’re the greatest athletes in America,” King said. “It is the greatest talent pool that there is. Can you think of any group that’s better? The NFL and the NBA, out of 20,000 athletes combined in college football and basketball, they select 260 in the NFL (draft), and 60 in the NBA (draft). That leaves a staggering amount of talent with nowhere to go. We’re giving them another dream.”
There are thousands of college athletes who do not make it to the NFL or NBA. Those athletes may not have the talent or skill to make it to the professional levels in those sports, but many of them still have tremendous athletic abilities. Those abilities can cross over into other sports, such as boxing. That is the talent pool that AAH taps into.
AAH looks for athletes that are 18-24 years old, 6-3 and taller, 230 pounds and heavier, and who have great athletic ability. There are not too many people in the general population walking around with those traits, and there are not that many people like that who are entering into boxing at a young age. But the NCAA has a lot of athletes like that.
King’s plan has been to pretty much start from scratch. He’s taking supreme athletes and shaping them into boxers. He has not gone after young professionals, but he has decided to start off with amateur boxers that he can mold into Olympians, and then into professionals.
“It’s like building a state of the art building,” King said. “You cannot build the first floor until you’ve created a great foundation. I’d like to start with the second floor, but I can’t. It’s a step-by-step process. I’d love to go pro now, but nobody knows who they are and they are not seasoned enough to go professional. When my guys go pro, I want them to be the best there is in the world. We don’t want a paper tiger.”
King is taking the proper approach. Over the past four years AAH has brought in more than 800 athletes, mostly who do not have any boxing experience, and given them assessment tests. AAH takes about 15 percent of the athletes that they test out and bring them into the program to train them as boxers. From there they cut it down to an even smaller number of boxers who they will actually train to have a boxing career.
AAH gives their fighters everything that they need at The Roc in Carson, which is a 25,000 square foot gym that has three rings, a weight room, and it is said to be one of the most high tech boxing training facility in the world. Every sparring session is filmed, and they have the largest boxing video library in the world. They not only store professional boxing matches, but they obtain any amateur film that they can get.
AAH provides their fighters with housing, trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists, and a nutritionist.
Their top boxer, Dominic Breazeale, was a quarterback at Alhambra High School, and then he went on to play at the University of Northern Colorado. Boxing was not even on his radar when he was growing up, or after his college career ended.
“I had never boxed in my life,” Breazeale said. “I had never thought about boxing. The football door slowly came to a close, so it was either join the police force and use my degree in criminal justice, or try this boxing program.”
Breazeale attended a few NFL camps, hoping to latch on, but he saw the writing on the wall. Standing at 6-7 and weighing 270 pounds, his athletic abilities were going to go to waste, but AAH tested him out and decided to give him a chance.
Four years later, Breazeale has become the USA Amateur Boxing Super-Heavyweight champion, and he has an opportunity to make the Olympic team. This new career has given him big dreams once again.
“I want to go to the top to get a belt,” Breazeale said. “I want to be a household name. I want to be one of the greatest to ever take up the sport of boxing.”
Breazeale is the first big time fighter that AAH has produced, but more of them will be hitting the scene in the near future. It may take some years before the heavy weight division is saved, but if AAH’s plan works, then one day soon the heavy weight division will be back on top.