The fighters at Top Gun Boxing come to PTC Combat Fitness to give everything to the sport they love.
(Staff Photo by C
The sweet science is alive and well in a Peachtree City gym. The Top Gun Boxing program is building dedicated fighters hungry for success.
Training out of PTC Combat Fitness, Top Gun is looking to build on their strong showing at last month's Georgia Games with an eye on the prestigious Paul Murphy Title Belt tournament.
It's not about fame and money at this level. It's about heart and desire and blood, sweat and tears. These athletes come into the gym because they have a passion for the sport. They're willing to give it their all for a chance to go toe to toe with their competitor.
"Attitude is everything," says their coach, Greg Elder. "It's about the ability to stay calm and focused in the midst of a real onslaught of aggression. I try to teach that to these guys. Tough is good, but tough isn't enough. You've got to be disciplined."
As with many sports, to be truly successful requires much more than just physical ability.
"They say it's 90 percent mental. I would totally agree with that," said Elder. "If you're going to go far in this game, you have to be able to take a shot. You've got to be able to give a shot and be disciplined. But if you can't take a clip on the chin, you're not going to go too far."
The team that Elder is working with exemplifies some of the best aspects of boxing in its purest form.
"What I love about this sport is the heart of the fighter," Elder says. "They're usually humble. They're usually desperate to make an impact and do something good. They're generally the nicest, most giving bunch of people because the sport requires it. You can't flaunt anything. It humbles you. In boxing, you're only as good as your last fight."
Right now, Top Gun's boxers are doing pretty good. Top Gun boxers brought back six medals from the Georgia Games.
Rayshawn Boone of Fayette (lightweight, 132 pounds) and Kyle DiGiulio of Coweta (lightweight, 132 pounds) both claimed gold. Jessica Kurtz of Fayette (lightweight, 132 pounds) and Jovani Zamora of Newnan (middleweight, 165 pounds) grabbed a silver. Diego Castillas of Fayette (middleweight, 165 pounds) and Ariel de la Trinidad of Coweta (welterweight, 152 pounds) took home bronze.
Each of the fighters brings their own unique tale to the ring.
Boone is a 21 year old construction worker when he's not in the ring as both a fighter and a boxing instructor. His willingness to share what he's learned makes him special. Carrying a 6-1 career record, Elder calls him a classic boxer with a chance to become a significant contender.
DiGiulio, a former Northgate High School wrestler, shook off a brutal early start to his career, losing two straight before bouncing back with three straight wins. Elder calls DiGuilio a dark horse.
Kurtz stands out perhaps the most of all as a female in a male dominated sport. A pretty 18 year old, and former soccer player at McIntosh, Kurtz has shown she can more than hold her own, calling the physicality of boxing her favorite part of the sport. There's no questioning her toughness. Just beginning her training, Kurtz fractured her foot, but that didn't keep her out of the ring. Perhaps she showed her mettle best in a split decision loss to a fighter with 11 bouts under her belt.
The Georgia Games may just be the start for Kurtz. "It was different from anything I've ever done," said Kurtz. "It was incredible. I couldn't ask for a better team. I definitely want to go back next year."
Asked how she ended up pursuing boxing, Kurtz jokes, "My dad told me I couldn't so that's a big reason why. All my friends do other things so I wanted to do something for me."
Zamora, a 21 year old fighter, has been plugging away for four years. As his patience catches up with his punching, Zamora could become a dominant force in his new, lighter weight class.
Castillas, a 24 year old veterinary assistant and instructor at PTC Combat Fitness, made a strong debut with his showing at the Georgia Games. His experience consisted of the six weeks training leading up to the Games. He showed well, battling against the eventual gold medal winner in a loss.
Ariel de la Trinidad is the youngest of the Georgia Games fighters, just a 17 year old Northgate High School senior. Though young, he has already been fighting 18 months, compiling a 3-2 record. He will be looking to defend his 'Title Belt' later this month in the lower junior welterweight 141 pound weight class.
Another key member of the Top Gun team is Devin Bowles, the grandson of Coach Elder. Bowles was not able to join the team in time to prepare for the Georgia Games, but has a promising future. Instead, he proved himself a vital team member, helping especially to get Jessica ready for her bout. There is nowhere to box in his hometown of Greenville so he comes up to PTC Combat Fitness whenever possible to compete in the sport he loves. Nicknamed the Lightning Bolt, the 14 year old eighth grader with fast hands is off to a strong start with a 2-0 record in the featherweight 125 pound class.
When asked about why kids still are pulled to the sport, Todd Gardner of PTC Combat Fitness, sums it up well. Even with the growing popularity of MMA fighting, boxing will always be around. "There's still the allure of boxing. The same gritty, come from nothing stories resonate a lot in boxing."
If the blood, sweat, and tears poured out in the gym by the Top Gun fighters are any sign, you might be hearing plenty more stories out of them.