08/10/08 — Hamm trains with eye on the prize

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Hamm trains with eye on the prize

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on August 10, 2008 1:52 PM

Tucked away in a poorly lit corner of the Goldsboro Family YMCA, B.J. Hamm swings for the fences.

No, he's not a shortstop working on a home run cut.

And he's not a young golfer trying to tame his driver.

Hamm's focus is a sweater science.

"I have wanted to box ever since I was four years old," said Hamm as he slipped on his royal blue boxing gloves. "I used to walk around pretending to box, and my uncle (Pee Wee) told me when I was big enough to fit into the gloves he would get me started."

At age six, the young fighter finally got his chance.

Ironically, Hamm has the same trainer -- Duane Anderson -- as his uncle.

"This is my star pupil right here," said Anderson. "He is a lot like his uncle, with quick hands and quick feet, and that's what you need to be successful."

The boxer/trainer relationship is forged through respect and mutual admiration. Hamm considers Anderson a second father figure and enjoys the time they spend together, in or outside the square ring.

"We work hard together and the focus is always on getting better," said Hamm, who also receives training from Tracy Yelverson.

Although he's untested in actual competition, Hamm spends his days getting ready to throw that first punch against something other than a bag or sparring partner.

"It's all about training, I mean all the time," he said. "Depending on what my schedule looks like, we may go 7-8 hours in a day, four or more days every week."

The 15 year-old fighter is looking forward to the upcoming Golden Gloves competition where he will compete in the 135-pound weight class.

"He wants to get to the Golden Gloves and I think he'll be ready," said Anderson. "He has all the skills."

Hamm put those skills on display recently. In an open boxing demonstration, he and fellow fighter Tony Young worked on punching combinations and defensive maneuvers.

"Work hard, come on work hard," Hamm said as Young buried punches into Anderson's protective pads.

While watching his training partner work through rounds, Hamm showed what kind of knowledge of the sport he possesses.

"My favorite pro is Floyd Mayweather, but I like Roy Jones and Miguel Cotto as well," said Hamm, a student at Eastern Wayne High School. "But they fight a different style than amateur fighters, who are more technical and not usually going for knockouts.

"The Olympics are starting up and that is a great time to watch the best technical fighters and to study their footwork and their skills."

With the school year approaching and the 2008 Beijing Games taking place in the middle of the night, Hamm admits he won't be catching the action live.

"I have to remember to tape it," he said with a laugh.

Then he returned to his workout and dreamed of when he'll finally get that chance to land a punch in live competition.