Editor’s note: During each Chips Quinn orientation and multimedia training in Nashville, Tenn., in May, scholars are required to complete a multimedia reporting assignment. Their work is displayed here.
Nashville boxer trains for the 2020 Olympics
by Marangeli Lopez
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Work, nap, train, repeat.
With two-and-one-half years of training under his belt, Ryan Shaw, 23, has set his sights on joining the world’s best boxers at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
But before he can step inside the Olympic ring, Shaw said he must train twice as hard to make up for starting his career later than some of his peers.
Shaw begins his days at 2:30 a.m. The Nashville native works for American Airlines as a baggage handler, usually from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m., he says.
He spends his nights at the Boxing Resource Center, a small, quiet gym at the city’s edge. There, he trains five hours a day under the direction of Christy Halbert, the center’s executive director and head coach, and Tramaine Crook, Shaw’s cousin and boxing coach. Daily training consists of hitting bags, jumping rope, developing quick footwork, shadowboxing, exercising his core muscles and running.
Halbert, who has been training Olympic-style boxers for almost 20 years, said Shaw’s success comes from his tenacity and commitment to training.
“He is a sponge,” she said. “That, coupled with the fact that he is extremely intelligent and a hard worker, (means) he’s essentially skyrocketing in terms of his skill development.”
Once a month, Shaw flies to Los Angeles to spar with boxers such as Brian Viloria at Wild Card Boxing Club, where other professional boxers including Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto also trained.
“Being able to fly to California has really helped me,” Shaw said. His employment benefits at the airline eliminate travel costs domestically so he can afford to train among the best.
Becoming an Olympic boxer wasn’t always Shaw’s plan. After graduating from high school, he moved to Kentucky to study exercise science at Western Kentucky University and to become a dentist, he said.
“It’s crazy, I love teeth,” Shaw said.
Three years into his education, he said, he had several bad experiences that brought him to his lowest point and led him to find his faith.
“I had no choice but to depend on God,” he said.
Before finishing his education, Shaw returned to Nashville to pursue a career in boxing and begin his airline job.
Shaw said he believes boxing is God’s plan for his life. Attending Bible study and interacting with like-minded people motivate him to keep going for his goals.
“Every day is not going to be perfect, so I got to just find the strength to continue just to train hard,” Shaw said.