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Culture » Culture Features

Outside the Box

Deschutes County ROCKS Boxing celebrates ten years of hooks and jabs



The Deschutes County ROCKS Boxing workout facility is sandwiched between a traffic-heavy parkway and Silver Moon Brewing on Greenwood, looking more like an industrial warehouse space. But this makeshift gym is full of mismatched punching bags, plywood-enforced walls and weathered posters of Muhammad Ali to Sylvester Stallone.

Coach Richard Miller, with bowling ball buzzed head, thick arms and a no-nonsense brow, has been coaching boxers here for a decade, himself boxing since he was eight-years-old—about the age of a few of the youngsters who trickle into the gym on a soggy Wednesday night. "Hey Coach," is the greeting of choice as the young boys and men, and on this particular night, one woman, scurry into the backroom of the gym over the pitter-patter of jump ropes slapping concrete.

Boxing has a controversial history since its origins, estimated at 4000 BC—one riddled with questions of ethics, violence and injuries. However, popularity of the sport has stayed strong, and in the 2012 London Olympic Games, boxing was represented by 79 countries and 286 athletes, including, for the first time, 36 female boxers.

Miller says the boxers competing in those Olympic Games are coming directly from programs like his, and assures me that boxing is no more violent than any other sport. Miller points out that soccer, not boxing, has the highest number of inflicted head injuries. Amateur boxing weighs in at a measly 23rd on the National Safety Council's accident report for injury producing sports.

Like a proud parent, Miller rattles off the names and weights of some of his prized students, their accomplishments—among them many outstanding boxer awards, undefeated records and even a full-ride scholarship to college—and what he's able to teach students through the vehicle of boxing. His team takes their hats off at the table, they let the girls get equipment first in the gym, and they have to maintain good grades to come to practice.

"They're good kids," he says numerous times. "Boxing teaches discipline, respect, dedication, proper manners, things that are going to carry down their life."

Miller has grown the boxing program in the last decade from one student to his current team of over thirty, including seven women, and boxers from elementary to high school from all economic statuses.

"A lot of them get shunned in other sports," explained Miller. "They're overweight, or underweight, they can't pay, they're not fast enough, they're not big enough."

But Miller's all-inclusion policy and strict training regiment insures that everyone can box, and the lessons he teaches in the ring extend beyond the walls of the gym.

"If you come to this gym four nights a week, keep your grades up, compete on the weekends, you're going to progress and be a productive citizen. Boxing is tough. They suffer losses, but then they learn to go on to the next one."

This weekend's Oregon Golden Gloves event will host teams from as far away as Anchorage, Vancouver, B.C., and regional teams from Washington, Idaho and Oregon, junior and adult bouts, and dozens of boxers competing to move on to the Golden Glove National Finals in Las Vegas.


Fri., Feb. 21

Eagle Crest Resort, 1522 Cline Falls Rd. Redmond.

7 pm. $15.


Sat., Feb. 22

Eagle Crest Resort, 1522 Cline Falls Rd. Redmond.

5 pm. $20. Tickets online at deschutescountryrocks.com

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