Despite the busy schedule of a championship professional fighter, Keith "One Time" Thurman gives back to the gym where it all started for him.
There’s no shortage of photos hanging on the walls inside St. Pete’s Boxing Club, showing a very young Keith Thurman with his hands raised in the air after one of his 101 victories from a standout amateur career.
There’s a newspaper clipping nearby that tells how Thurman got his start in boxing, when he saw his longtime trainer Ben Getty hold a boxing demonstration when he was in grade school—and how from that first day Thurman knew his life’s calling was inside the ring.
Now, as an in-demand professional fighter, Thurman never strays too far from where it all started. He also believes in giving back by mentoring and training amateurs just as Getty did with him. It helps Thurman stay close to his roots and in touch with the amateur scene.
“I just really enjoy working with all of the young guys, it reminds me of when I was their age and I know what the sport meant for me at that time,” said Thurman—who just a week after his last fight, a unanimous decision victory over Leonard Bundu on Dec. 13 in Las Vegas, was already back in the gym offering tutelage to a couple of St. Pete’s top up-and-comers. “Some of these guys have the skills to be really good. I just try to help them out when I can.”
And in turn the young guns keep Thurman fresh and offer him a daily reminder that no matter the belts and accomplishments he’s already achieved in boxing, the true joy of the sport that he fell in love with comes via the day-to-day grind of getting better.
This past November, Thurman traveled to the Florida State PAL Championships in Fort Pierce, FL to cheer on St. Pete’s amateurs. The club had a strong showing, but Thurman stole the show as kids from across the state mobbed him for photographs and autographs.
“Those tourneys always put a smile on my face,” said Thurman, who as amateur took home six national championships, including the 2006 PAL championship. “They always make me remember my roots.”
A very young Keith Thurman struts his stuff as an amateur.
Kicking it with some of the young guns at the Florida State PAL Championships! pic.twitter.com/nSic1m0ysv— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) November 2, 2014