Monday, December 9, 2013
PORTLAND — Russell Lamour Jr. walked into the Portland Boxing Club during his junior year in high school. Already on the football and basketball teams at Deering High, he was looking for a new athletic challenge.
Lamour was out of shape at 180 pounds.
''I slimmed down real fast and got stronger,'' he said. ''I cut out all the fat in my diet.''
It wasn't long before he found his niche. Under the tutelage of Bobby Russo, the 26-year-old Lamour has developed into one of the top amateur middleweight boxers in the United States. This week he will compete in the Golden Gloves national championships in Salt Lake City.
Lamour weighs close to the middleweight division weight limit of 165 pounds. He'll have to win five bouts to capture the title. Each match is scheduled for three rounds lasting 3 minutes each, and the boxers wear protective headgear.
''I'm excited about competing and I feel good about my chances,'' Lamour said before a workout last week. ''I'm in the best shape I've ever been in.''
At 6-foot-1, he's taller than most of his opponents. And faster.
''I feel my strengths are my hand speed and my agility,'' he said.
Lamour has been putting in long days of training for the nationals. He does sprints and runs for distance from 6-7 a.m. At noon, he works with strength coach Zach Cutler, then begins his workouts at the Portland Boxing Club at 5 p.m. He works on the double bag and the heavy bag and then gets into the ring to spar.
In a session last week, Lamour used the first round to loosen up and find the range against his opponent. Over the next two rounds, he peppered his opponent with quick jabs and landed several powerful punches in tight quarters.
The fighters embraced after each round, and another boxer helped Lamour stretch before the sparring session.
Russo, Lamour's trainer and coach, also will coach the New England team at the Golden Gloves championships.
''Russell is so technically sound as a boxer,'' Russo said. ''He's such a good athlete that he is able to incorporate whatever I tell him into his boxing.
''His speed is his greatest asset. His hands are so quick that he often hits an opponent with two or three punches before the other guy can throw one.
''Some say he doesn't have a big punch, but the power will come. He's fought several national type boxers and done well.''
Russo said Lamour is 62-10 in 72 amateur fights and is a three-time New England amateur champion.
Russo said Lamour got robbed last year in a decision that cost him a trip to the Golden Gloves nationals. This year, he won the title match in a unanimous decision.
''Growing up, I always liked to watch the fights on TV,'' Lamour said. ''My parents didn't want me to start boxing at first, but I had a cousin who was a boxer and that helped convince them that it was all right.''
Lamour's favorites fighters are Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins and Sugar Ray Leonard.
''I watched films of Leonard and try to use some of the things he did,'' he said. ''I liked the way he used to box in and out. That's the way I like to box.''
Lamour has been preparing for the tournament for some time, determined to become the third fighter in club history to win a Golden Gloves national title, joining Lisa Kuronya and Jorge Abiague.
Biddeford High grad Jimmy Smith, who won the New England Golden Gloves welterweight title in February, is unable to compete at the nationals because of his commitments with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Win or lose this week in Salt Lake City, Lamour makes one thing clear: ''I'm turning pro.''
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:
click image to enlarge