From Golden Glove champ to regular exercisers, Sweatbox spreads the word of fitness

Terrance Collins knows how it feels to get hit hard.

Fortunately for him, he also knows how to avoid hits better than most.

That’s one reason why he was able to transition from Terre Haute North High School football player — running back, Class of 2015 — to amateur boxer.

Representing Terre Haute’s Sweatbox Gym, Collins used his pugilistic skills to win the Junior Open Division heavyweight class of the Indiana Golden Gloves state tournament May 5 at Indianapolis’ Tyndall Armory.

Collins, 25, emerged triumphant from the championship match on a first-round technical knockout.

“I used a one-two [combination] to drop him,” Collins told the Tribune-Star before a training session at Sweatbox this past week.

“I hit him on the ropes for a while . . . and he didn’t come out for the second round.”

Collins had hoped to make his Indiana Golden Gloves debut in 2021, but that tournament was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

After a few other bouts in the past year, he was better prepared to compete in the Golden Gloves this year.

Weighing about 203 pounds, the 5-foot-10 1/2 Collins said he’d like to enter the Open Division of the same tournament next year. Meanwhile, he works as a registered behavior technician at Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center.

But Collins’ goal someday is to become a professional boxer, like Sweatbox owner James Porter was until an eye injury forced his retirement in 2011.

“I’ve still got a lot to work on,” Collins admitted. “I’m pretty new to the sport.”

Collins credits Porter, his coach, for helping him “tremendously” in the last two years since he started coming to Sweatbox.

“I always wanted to box,” Collins recalled. “I just tried it out to see if I was good at it or not, to be honest.”

One other Sweatbox boxer, 21-year-old Isaac York, fought in the 2022 Indiana Golden Gloves state tournament. Competing in the Open Division 165-pound class, York lost in the semifinals on a decision.

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Porter, who will turn 49 later this month, has helped youngsters, young adults and older adults with boxing since he first opened Sweatbox in the early 2000s.

His current location at 940 Poplar St. is by far the most spacious of the five gyms he’s conducted business in.

“It’s pretty fun training kids and being with the kids and watching them grow,” Porter said, noting that he offers no-contact boxing classes for children and adults.

Porter said some of the youths come from tough backgrounds, while others come from your average middle-class families.

“We’ve got all kinds of kids,” he pointed out.

Sweatbox memberships for anyone 4 or older is $75 per month. But to box competitively, the age requirement is 8 and up.

Again this year, Sweatbox will put on 8-10 exhibition amateur boxing matches — including one involving females — at the Fairbanks Park fountain at 6 p.m. May 28. The free show — known as the “Justice Spencer Memorial” event — will be part of the annual Banks of the Wabash Festival.

Then a “real” amateur boxing card, featuring approximately 12 bouts, will take place at 3 p.m. June 11 inside Sweatbox. General admission is $20.

For more membership or June 11 ticket information, call Sweatbox at (812) 232-5595 or stop by during normal business hours.

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Renee Pierce, a junior at Terre Haute North, is one of the two females mentioned earlier who will engage in an exhibition match May 28 at Fairbanks Park. Her opponent will be 17-year-old Lena Perez.

Pierce, 16, not only trains at Sweatbox, she works there part-time. Pierce credits her mother and “a friend named Becky” for telling her about Sweatbox two years ago.

Pierce is glad she made the decision to become a more physically active person through boxing.

“I love it,” she emphasized. “I love it so much. I love it because I like hitting stuff . . . and it’s fun exercise too. There’s a lot more definition in my triceps now.”

Pierce acknowledged that she hasn’t had an official bout yet, just four exhibitions against Perez (May 28 will be their fifth clash) and two other exhibitions against out-of-town opponents.

“One of them was 26 and she was huge,” Pierce mentioned with a laugh. “I got beat up on that one.”

Unlike Collins, who does not hesitate to state his intentions about wanting to box professionally someday, Pierce isn’t sure if she wants to do real amateur matches or not.

But she has researched the sport and the names that this teenager rattled off as inspirations might surprise you.

Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano, to name a couple. Evidently, there’s this thing called the Internet . . .

Regardless of whether Pierce steps up to the competitive ranks or continues to use boxing for fun and exercise, she doesn’t plan on quitting it soon.

“I think I am going to be boxing, until I get bored,” Pierce said. “But I don’t think I’ll ever get bored.”

Whether the goal is to box professionally or to trade punches for fun/exercise, Porter welcomes anyone with a curiosity about the sport to step inside and consider the possibilities.

“Not everyone gets to be a great boxer,” Porter assessed while he looked toward his ring, where a group of youngsters were performing cardio routines simply to improve their fitness.

“The goal is to get great people at the end of the day.”

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