LONDON — With the rich history of success in Laurel County athletics, one may not think that four of the best athletes in London are displaying their talents inside a boxing ring.
Preston Scott, Jay Hoskins, Treyton Byerly, and Kinnedy Hundley will travel to Shreveport, Louisiana to participate in the USA National Championship on Dec. 5. It will be the first time that any boxer from London has ever fought for a national championship, and a moment that boxing coach Jerry Loughran is very proud of.
Loughran, a retired Lexington police officer, opened Loughran’s Boxing and Fitness just over two years ago, after an extensive stint as a boxing coach in the Lexington Police Athletic League. Before opening his own gym, Loughran trained seven national champions and two world champions, and he think he can replicate that same success in his hometown of London.
“We have come a long way in just two-and-a-half years. We started in March of 2018. Since then we have had the first-ever USA boxing amateur show in London, the Jason VanHook Memorial, and now we have enough kids to participate in this year’s national championship,” said Loughran. “We have put in a lot of work during that time. We knew that we would have kids who could compete at this level, but we did not know the timeline. They are ready.”
The expectation from Loughran is not just for his team to travel to Louisiana and compete or put on a good show. He expects to win. His foursome has already been sparring with some of the top-ranked boxers in the region, as Loughran takes his team all across the state to ensure they are facing high levels of competition.
The four boxers range from ages of 10 to 17, with three boys and one girl. Scott has already won two kickboxing national championships and just turned 11 years old. Byerly is closing in on a two-year win streak, and Hundley is one of the top female boxers in Kentucky. Hoskins is the youngest boxer out of the four, at 10 years old, but has the experience needed to compete in Shreveport.
“From the time we opened the doors to our gym, our goal was to produce national champions. One time I took a kid to a show for the first time, and all of these boxing coaches come up to me and hugged me and asked me how I was doing. The kid said, ‘Coach I didn’t know you knew all these people.’ I told him it was his first time at the show, not mine,” joked Loughran. “I know what it takes to compete at this level. It takes a lot of patience and hard work. These kids have worked hard. They have put in the time. I would not be surprised if we come back with multiple championships next month.”
While the four young, talented boxers may be the ones getting the recognition for their success, Loughran’s Boxing and Fitness is home to almost 100 members, with just about half of them being USA boxing certified. The age range is from six years old, all the way to the upper-60’s, as Loughran trains children from an early age, but also works with older clients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.
Not only does the training program for these boxers come with multiple physical benefits from being in better shape to increasing body strength, but there are numerous mental and social benefits, as well. Loughran said that he sees students come in and gain confidence in their abilities. He said that boxing is a way to build character and submit yourself to finding success in stressful situations.
“An old term we use in law enforcement is stress inoculation. If these kids can stand in the ring, while another person is throwing blows at their face, while their parents and friends are watching, and not know the outcome of the fight, it takes a lot of confidence to do that,” said Loughran. “Our kids have already been in the ring sparring with some of the best boxers we could find. They have confidence in their skills and abilities. One of our boxers was asked by his mom how he would feel if he came to a close bout and lost. He looked her in the eye and said he was not losing.”
Overall, no matter the outcome of the national championship next month, Loughran said his team will do their best to represent London well.
“We are going down there to win, but we are going to do our best and control what we can control,” said Loughran. “We make sure they get their sparring in, we look at what things they need to work on, and then we focus on that. We have a great group of kids who have worked hard and we hope they become national champions.”