Nyck Price hopes to deliver a haymaker to his challengers this spring at the Arnold Sports Festival, Feb 28-March 3.
The Dublin Jerome High School senior, who turns 18 in February, plans to box for the first time as a welterweight – with a top weight of 145 pounds – in the Men’s Novice Boxing Challenge for ages 17-34. He has competed twice before in younger age classes.
With a career record of 48-13, including two knockouts of opponents, the soft-spoken teen has earned the right to the level of confidence he displays when asked about his chances for success at the Arnold.
“No, sir,” he has never been knocked out or knocked down, he says, with a slight smile. And “Yes, sir,” he has decked some opponents.
Nyck chose his sport based on a gut instinct four years ago, his father, T.J., says. Nyck saw Gregory’s Corner Boxing near the AMC Dublin Village 18 movie theater and felt, “That’s my thing.”
Up to that point, his only sport had been recreational basketball.
“He said, ‘Maybe I could try boxing.’ The first push came from him,” says T.J., who also boxed in his youth.
Nyck’s amateur boxing career began with lessons from Steve Gregory, who was once the No. 3 junior welterweight in the world. Now, T.J. serves as Nyck’s trainer.
Three mornings a week before school, Nyck runs six miles along the streets near his home, on a treadmill or at the Dublin Community Recreation Center. Three other days, he trains for three hours using equipment in the garage of the family home where he lives with T.J. and his mother, Sofia.
Nyck rattles off a list of drills: jumping rope, heavy bag, speed bag, shadow boxing and several others. It’s all in preparation for facing older, more experienced fighters at the Arnold.
“Speed and defense are my main focus,” Nyck says.
At least once a week, the boxer and father travel to the Beatty or Blackburn community centers in Columbus, where Nyck spars in their extensive boxing programs. Those outings usually involve 10 to 12 three-minute rounds, depending on who the partners are.
Nyck’s bedroom displays an array of trophies and ribbons, including his first championship belt, won last May at the adidas National Boxing Tournament in Oxnard, Calif.
He chalks up his previous losses at the Arnold to inexperience fighting before a crowd and a “bad decision,” and says he is sure he can win this year. He also hopes to win at the Toledo Golden Gloves or the Columbus Regional Golden Gloves and advance to the national matches in Salt Lake City in May, and he plans to compete at the Ohio State Fair and the Ringside World Championship in Kansas City, Mo.
Nyck is setting his sights high.
“I want to go to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 (as a U.S. Olympics team member.),” he says.
And “win or lose, I want to go pro,” which could mean a career boxing or as a sparring partner for other professional boxers.
Another career option: He could receive financial aid from U.S.A. Boxing, the national amateur boxing governing organization, if he chooses to study for a career in sports medicine, which T.J. mentions is a possibility.
Nyck has a 3.5 cumulative grade point average and expects to enroll in the Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City to extend his high school studies next year.
“I just love the sport,” Nyck says.
Duane St. Clair is a contributing editor. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.