A Young Gladiator in the Ring

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: January 30, 2006

Kevin Rivers Jr.

Kevin Rivers Jr.

Suitland, Md.— Clinging onto the front mirror in Kevin Rivers, Sr. vehicle are boxing medals that belong to a champion. Some of the hard earned accolades, due to additional weight had to be removed. When the Rivers family moves into a new, spacious home in Suitland, Maryland the problem will be resolved.

Since 2002, Kevin Rivers, Jr. a brilliant, ambitious, young lad has made monumental strides. Now, attending DuVal High School in Lanham, Maryland, the 15 year old, weighing 100 pounds, made the honor roll throughout his entire freshman year. The talented 5 foot 6 sophomore currently has a 63 – 10 amateur boxing record. English and Math are his favorite subjects. English helps me to comprehend what I read and Math helps me to count money correctly,” he explains.

This quiet, trouble free teenager has no problem asking a question. Nor, do the refs have a problem raising his hand as the victor in the ring. For Kevin, adjusting to the dialect of foreign teachers was a challenge. As a role model, he feels no peer pressure and he gets along with most of the students. George Samu, a high school wrestler has known Kevin since the seventh grade. “ I remind him to stay focus in real life, and in the ring,” says Samu, who plans to attend Notre Dame or Maryland.

When not training at the Old School Gym, Kevin trains at home. “ I prefer home base training to avoid distractions,” said his father and head trainer. A ninety-minute workout includes jogging, hitting the punching bag, jumping rope and doing sit ups. It’s normal for Kevin to spar with boxers who are 20 –30 pounds heavier. Following the daily workout routine, the 3.13 G.PA. student studies appropriately five hours.

Kevin is so discipline that his father does not have to monitor him. In the early 70’s Kevin, Sr. learned the boxing game from Dave Jacobs, who also nurtured Roger and Ray Leonard, Derrick Holmes and Henry Bunch, among others. The younger Rivers chose to box not because of his father’s pugilist heroics. Exposing Kevin to the boxing world, he instantly fell in love. “I just wanted to give him an opportunity,” said the father.

The champ owns five belts, 40 trophies and 15 medals. In August of 2005, he earned the Ringside World Tournament title in Kansas City, Missouri. There, he punished three foes. Two months later, in Oxnard, California, the slick boxer, who enjoys throwing the left jab and body shots, won the National PAL Tournament in the 100-pound division. The Maryland native won a decision over Raul Lopez. “It was a tough fight, but I out pointed him, landing more combinations,” noted the ring warrior.

Acquiring a walk over at Sugar Ray’s Gym last November granted him a shot at the regional competition in Augusta, Georgia for the Silver Gloves National Tournament. In a three round bout, the 2005 Silver Gloves titleholder from Prince George’s County knocked off Jaime Bernal, a native Georgian. Why is Kevin so successful? “ I listen to my coaches, but all credit goes to my father.”

Before the bell sounds, Kevin meditates on how he can sabotage an opponent. Losing motivates him to train harder. His strengths are unleashing multiple body shots. However, back peddling and keeping his hands up are areas of needed improvement. Kevin admires the confidence in Diego Corrales, Ricky Hatton, and Floyd Mayweather’s tremendous speed. An advocate against steroid use, Kevin says, “You don’t have to cheat to win.”

Using the God given boxing skills is something that Kevin. Sr. preaches to his son. When making a mistake, the champ is instructed to do better the next time. I am very proud of my son, and I do my best as a father. I don’t want success to go to his head.” Family support is obvious in the Rivers family. Kevina Rivers, 28, drives her brother to the gym and always encourages him to excel in school and in his boxing career. “He has what it takes,” says Kevina, a D.C Government Executive Assistant.

Leisurely, Kevin listens to gospel artist Curt Franklin, plays video games and basketball. Featured on the Glenn Harris Sports Talk Show, the desire to attend college, become an Olympian and pro boxer is Kevin’s dream. Every night he reads the Bible. He can be one of the best in the area,” says Jacobs. “I see potential and it’s in the genes.” Next stop, Kansas City for the Nationals.