Heavy hopes

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

After passing on the opportunity before, Anthony Webster is now stepping up and taking his chance to fight.

Webster won the super heavyweight belt at the Alabama state Golden Gloves Tournament last weekend and earned a place in the Southern District tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., April 11. He defeated Nathan Taylor from CHAMPS Boxing Club out of Attalla, Ala., in a unanimous, four-round decision.

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Winning boxing matches is nothing new to the 18-year-old graduate of Selma High, who trains in the Selma Youth Development Center. He has won the Alabama state championship two years in a row and is 15-2 as a heavyweight.

After his win last year, however, Webster got a reminder that he still needed time to be a kid. He now believes he is ready for the next step in his life and amateur career.

Because this is an Olympic qualifying year, Webster will automatically have a spot in the Olympic trials if he wins the national tournament.

Webster has no shortage of confidence when it comes to discussing his chances of competing for an Olympic spot.

If there isn’t a more dominant opponent in the ring, Webster still has to stare down negative perception.

Frank Hardy, boxing coach and executive director of the SYDC, is used to people not realizing the championship potential of athletes in Selma.

He has gone through it as a boxer himself and multiple times as a coach.

Hardy talked about a young Selma boxer named Prince Hatcher he took to Marquette, Mich., years ago to compete in the Junior Olympics. Hatcher, by far an underdog in the tournament, turned heads when he was still there after the first four nights of competition.

He took home the gold after beating out boxers from Dallas, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Becoming a championship boxer is more than wielding an array of punches. It’s more than being the biggest or the quickest. It takes will, discipline and smarts.

Still, it helps to have certain physical gifts. But talent can also be a hindrance. Webster says he often lacks quality fights because fighters poised to become pros don’t want a pockmark on their records.

Hardy’s mission, as much as it is to help Webster to the national level, is also to make sure his prodigy’s accomplishments don’t go unnoticed.

Every win for the young fighter is also a win for his native city.