Tinker fighters suit up in new boxing facility

  • Published
  • By John Stuart
  • Tinker Public Affairs
Not everybody got what he wanted for Christmas. But for Coach Lavell Sims and the Tinker All Services Boxing Team, the present they received is just what they hoped for and more.

In May 2009, Sims made a special list and has been checking it twice ever since. The purpose of this list? To tell his superiors exactly what equipment the boxing team needs to be the best in Oklahoma. And Sims didn't hold back. He knew exactly what would help his Tinker fighters find success, and with a simple faith he submitted the wish list to the people who could do something about it.

But Sims was a little uncertain. Although he crafted the wish list in May, he'd been lobbying the new facility idea for several years. But that didn't stop him from trying.

"At first I made a wish list, but in my mind, you know how it is growing up when your family tells you 'you're going to get that bike you always wanted' and when you look under the Christmas tree you're disappointed," Sims said. "Well I had faith in it and a part of me said 'OK if we get it we get it, but if we don't I'm not going to expect it."

But sometimes it's the simple faith that carries the most weight. And after months of perfecting the ever-powerful list, it finally took shape Dec. 17, when the Tinker boxing team opened the doors to its bright, shiny new workout facility.

"When it finally came I'm like that little kid on Christmas, that I finally got what I wanted so I'm happy," Sims said with a smile truly reminiscent of an overjoyed kid on Christmas morning. "And just to share with everyone, this is bigger than me. This is for the Airmen and Soldiers. I want them to get where I've been, if not higher, and they deserve that. That was ultimately my dream to get these guys to the next level."

With overwhelming support from Col. Allen Jamerson, 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker installation commander, and 72nd ABW Command Chief Master Sgt. Eric Harmon, the Tinker team has allies all over base.

Both boxing fans at heart, Colonel Jamerson and Chief Harmon wanted to see the program grow. And last year they certainly did their part and more. Tinker funded a $40,000 renovation and expansion project to Fitness Center West, which now acts as the boxers' workout facility.

The facility, one of the best in the state, boasts a full-size ring, punching bags and other sport-specific equipment to raise the Tinker team to the next level.

And for the Tinker fighters, the new facility will only help their training with an intensified sense of purpose.

"It feels like this place is established for a specific purpose, and a lot of boxing is about a specific purpose," said boxer Charlie Floyd, who's been on the team for more than two years. "When you're going in there you're going to work. You have to have a proper atmosphere to train for boxing."

Floyd, who's 4-2 in his boxing career overall, said the Oklahoma weather was a big factor when the team was working out in Sims' garage -- their headquarters for the last six years.

"With the Oklahoma weather the garage is whatever the weather is," Floyd said with a laugh. "If it's hot outside it's an extra 20 degrees hotter in the garage. If it's freezing outside it's an extra 20 degrees colder in the garage. (The new facility) provides a more consistent place to work out and do proper warm ups and cool downs."

Floyd hopes to make the All-Air Force boxing team in the next few years and said the elite Tinker facility will only help his pursuits and those of his team members.

"Compared to all other gyms where I've sparred, this is the best boxing facility in the state, hands down," Floyd said. "All the equipment, the lighting, the ring, how clean it is -- if you want to get proper training, this is the best facility in the state."

The renovation funds also went toward upgrading the cardio and resistance machines in the facility, which are available to all Airmen. Having the workout equipment and the boxing ring in one facility is ideal for the boxing team's workouts, Sims said, and should allow them to make the most of practice time.

"I want to thank everyone for supporting us," Sims said. "Without them we wouldn't have this facility. We're going to keep going out there to the best of our ability and keep winning."

And as the new facility will mean more success in the ring, it's not likely there could've been a better Christmas present for Sims and his Tinker fighters. They're poised for success, and they wouldn't ask for it any other way.