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Boxing trainer working to grow interest in the sport with Pahrump kids

Kids may have had the dream of slugging it out with Mike Tyson or battling on the ropes with Floyd Mayweather, but seldom try because of lack of instruction. After all, boxing lessons are hard to come by. That used to be true here in the valley, but not any longer.

Rodney Crisler began teaching a beginning boxing class for ages 4 to 15 a year ago. He is currently teaching 8-to-10-year-old kids in Pahrump at the VIP All-Stars gym at 2400 East Basin. He said he also teaches adults.

“I teach in Las Vegas too,” he said. “I have five national champions there and one Olympic boxer. I started boxing when I was 8-years-old and really never quit, and I am 53 now. I have coached continuously for 25 years.”

Crisler said he moved from Gary, Indiana in 2000 to Southern Nevada. He is one of those coaches who has had his hand in creating many champions over the years.

He started coaching in Pahrump as a favor to Natalia Rodriguez, the owner of VIP All-Stars Cheer and Dance.

“Coach Rodney is like my second dad,” Rodriguez said. “I was asking him what I should do to attract more boys to our cheer program. I told him we need a program to draw more boys to the gym and he said, ‘What about boxing?’”

One year later, Rodriguez said the program is going strong.

“It’s a good program and he is very motivated,” she said. “You can tell he has a passion for boxing and that he loves that sport.”

If you were to go to Las Vegas, Rodney Crisler’s name is all over the fight capital with a long list of boxers like TaTina “Lil Tyson” Anderson, Andre Dirrell, Chad Dawson, Samuel Peter, Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov, “King” Arthur Williams, Aaron Williams and Delaney Howard.

Crisler said his program in Pahrump though focuses on kids and part of it is about ending bullying.

“I want kids in my program to learn to protect themselves,” he said.

The coach also wants all his kids to learn to use boxing responsibly. He doesn’t want to see his kids out there fighting other kids. He also stresses to all his kids that they need to keep up their grades to participate in his class.

“My own sons went from getting D’s to A’s and B’s,” Crisler said. “I adopted seven kids,” he said. “All three of my boys take boxing and I have one girl, Serenity, who is seven and learning to box. She is learning to protect herself from her brothers and it has worked.”

He added, “I am not teaching my kids to fight but to help others who can’t,” he said. “I won’t tolerate any of my kids getting suspended from school due to fighting and they know that. Any suspensions and they are out of boxing.”

Crisler has a 14-year-old student, Michael Lincoln, a freshmen at the high school, who loves boxing after a year of instruction. Lincoln is preparing to enter the Golden Gloves in Las Vegas.

“He wants to compete and has seen some of my national guys,” the coach said. “The kids know they have to have discipline to compete. They have to train hard to stay at weight. It’s a disciplined sport and you have to be disciplined.”

Angela Lincoln, Michael’s mom, said she now appreciates the sport but she did have reservations at first about letting her son join.

She said her family was living in Death Valley for a long time. Michael Lincoln attended a small school there.

“Because there were horses there, horse riding was a big part of Michael’s life then,” Angela Lincoln said. “And at first I was opposed to boxing, but Rodney won me over. He is a great trainer and he told me he teaches the kids how not to get hit. He is a really good coach.”

Angela Lincoln said she has noticed a change in her son since he started to box.

“I noticed he is more responsible and that his dedication to this sport is intense, which is cool to see in him. He is doing well in his classes and is in all AP classes (advanced placement).

She also said Rodney’s talk on fighting has influenced him at school.

“My son sees a lot of fights at school,” she said. “The coach has taught him restraint and he doesn’t fight. He even helps to break up the fights.”

Michael Lincoln’s only regret is that he hadn’t started boxing at a younger age.

“I love the challenge of this sport,” he said. “I like the idea of fighting, legal fighting. I guess I like punching people. But I do wish I had started earlier.”

He said he wished he had gotten an earlier start because the kids that start at a younger age develop speed.

“I sparred with an 11-year-old and he messed me up,” he said. “He was so much quicker than me.”

Michael Lincoln wants to pursue boxing for a while and he seems to have gotten the boxing bug.

Although the workouts are tough, intense, and you get punched in the face a lot, Lincoln is not quitting any time soon.

He said he thought it would hurt more getting punched in the face.

“After you spar a lot, you build up a tolerance for getting hit in the face,” he said. “I got to spar with a bigger kid and he landed a lot of punches to my face.”

Boxing lessons are on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. For more information call 775-537-3629 and according to Angela Lincoln, they are $85 per month.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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