DeAndre Woods Prepares for Junior Olympics

Adam Wells

DeAndre Woods is a boxer. But it was not until five years ago when he decided to take up the sport he grew up watching. As a kid he played soccer, and now he runs track at North Side High School in Jackson. But his favorite athlete growing up was boxer Sugar Ray Robinson. Now, he is trying to be just like him.

"I always used to rough house and played around," Woods said. "I always liked face-to-face contact. I don't know it's something about boxing that made me want to come to the gym."

It is not easy but Woods is on his way to becoming a champion just like his hero. Later this month, he will head to the Junior Olympic Regional Tournament.

"I didn't think I'd be here," Woods said. "It started out as something for me to try. Once I got the hang of it, I started loving it."

Preparing for the Junior Olympics takes a lot of work. But his coach is no stranger to the big stage. Rayford Collins would' have been the coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Boxing team. But that year the United States boycotted the Olympic games. Today he is still trying to train the best.

"That's what we do," Collins said. "We strive for their success. Every kid isn't going to be great, but if they are in their own minds, then that's what counts.

Woods has been training at the Jackson Boxing Club under Collins. In that time he has learned the most important aspects of boxing. The first is discipline.

"Stay disciplined. Don't follow other people," Woods said. "Keep positive, eat healthy, do your school work, and train hard. You have to train hard if you want to be the best. And you can't be if you don't train hard."

The other is dedication. In a sport that can take its toll physically, you have to stay dedicated and work hard.

"It's a dedicated sport," Collins said. "You have to be disciplined. When people see a boxer they know that kid has worked hard to get to where he is."

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