MARYLAND — Gary Russell, Sr. was raised in a tough area of northeast, D.C., by Edward and Irene Wroten, and aunt, Daisey Wroten, following the death of his mother, Doris Wroten Russell, in 1964.
Gary and Allan Russell.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Wilson
For 14 years, the boys in Trinidad marveled as Gary, Sr. shadow boxed in front of a mirror in the Wroten’s garage. “My father would moved the cars out of the garage, so that his grandson could shadow box, and you’d think the way he was demonstrating, he’d wanted to turn pro,” says Daisey, a retired Department of Veteran Affairs employee, now 76.
Now, it’s Gary Russell, Jr. and Allan Russell’s turn to demonstrate. Both are headed to the 2007 United States National Boxing Championship in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They’re two tournaments away from representing their family and country as Olympians.
The upcoming tournament anticipation has brought added pressure on the Russell duo, but the intensity of training has been basically the same. Life continues to bring the Russell household countless obstacles.
Nonetheless, the success of fatherhood and training manageability is attributed to God and Lawan Russell, Gary, Sr. devoted soul mate.
To compete in the Olympic Trial Box Off in August, the top eight participants at the national championship must advance to the quarterfinals. Almost 19, Gary, Jr., the No. 1 bantamweight in the U.S.., is already seeded in the quarterfinals, due to a stellar performance, and being nominated Outstanding Boxer of the Police Athletic League Tournament in California .
Let it be known, he won the sponsored event injured.
Following multiple victories out west, Gary, Jr. received verbal instructions from a physician, not to utilize his right hand for two weeks. Hitting a punching bag or sparring with one hand felt extremely awkward.
But, the young warrior says, “the experience made his left hand stronger and him a better fighter.” At one point, during a training session at Nomis Boxing Center, the mitt holder had to take a deep breathe, as Gary, Jr. displayed explosive power with the left hand, compared to a Roger Clemens’ fastball hitting the center of a catcher’s mitt.
The brothers are exhibiting the right attitude in the gym, that will surface on June 2-5. “Prior to August, there will be opponents who’ll change their minds and pursue their Olympic dream in 2012,” says Gary, Jr., the 2005 Outstanding Boxing Athlete of the Year.
He has explored China , the 2008 Olympic site, before. The glamour and hype does not arouse him one bit. From April 10-24 the top athletes were invited to Colorado Springs for training and testing.
There, the boxing scholarship recipient saw a sports doctor and nutritionist. He trained in the evening and jogged in the morning. “Gary is right on point to obtain an Olympic birth,” says Julie Goldsticker, media director and public relations representative for U.S.A. Boxing.
Allan Russell, 17, is the No. 1 132-pound champion in the Washington Metro Area. In early April, he journeyed eight hours to the Midwestern Boxing Trials at the Hyatt Regency in Cincinnati, Ohio .
Until he and his father discussed the ring strategy, the music buff slept most of the way. During the five day competition, Allan won a walk over Lonnie Jackson of Philadelphia , on April 2.
In the quarterfinals, he won a decision, 27-23 against Devonte Allen of Cincinnati . Allan admits, “the bout against Mel Crossty, another hometown favorite, was very challenging”, in spite of the 20-14 outcome. In the finale, on April 7, Allan beat Miguel Gonzales, 27-15.
Dan Campbell, a U.S.A. National Coach had previously coached the Russell brothers. “Allan thought that he would be cheated by fighting guys from Ohio He can box well enough to get out of most situations. He dominated each of the fellows, and because of his dominant style and no fear, his chances of making the Olympic Trial Team are good,” Campbell reports.
The closer Allan gets to his ultimate accomplishment on the amateur level, he’s only pondering one thought — not losing. The physical training has been quite challenging.
Needless to say, Allan has the utmost confidence in his brother to succeed. Internally and mentally, he feels he’s going to prosper, too.
“Boxing is my job now, and in the future. I am not interested in a government job. Boxing will put food on the table,” says the Ali admirer.
People who know absolutely nothing about boxing, who have never been in the ring, continually encourage the brothers to stay focus and positive. The family support is an extra drive for them to excel.
Both were invited to Suitland Elementary School for “Career Day”.
Unfortunately, but understandably, their boxing desires must be met.
Rapper T.I. latest hit called, “Doin It” describes the Russell brothers determination. “I am extremely proud of Gary and Allan, the goals they’ve set for themselves. “We see great things ahead for them”, said the aunt, who knows why her great nephews are flourishing.
Easy guess. It’s in the genes.