September 8, 2013

Trainer defies the odds to help boxer beat them

Skeet Wyman's boxing career was cut short when he lost a hand, but he's still a fighter.

By MICHAEL G. SEAMANS Morning Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

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Skeet Wyman works with Brandon Berry to prepare him for the 12th annual Fight to Educate on Thursday.

Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

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In 2006, less than four years after watching the De La Hoya-Vargas fight, Travis Wyman, 17, won a Golden Gloves title in Vermont. It was not only a proud moment for Wyman as a father, and a chance to be back among the boxing community, it was also a new opportunity.

Over the years, Wyman's stature in the boxing community has grown.

"There's a lot of really bad people in this sport and Skeet is one of the best I've ever come across," said Ed Farris, the owner and trainer at Claremont Boxing Club in Claremont, N.H. Among Farris' boxers is Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade, who represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics. "He gives this sport hope.

"What Skeet does in rural Maine is amazing. He has a population of about 3,000 people to train. Compare that to the places his fighters fight in like Boston and New York City who have millions of possible contenders. If Skeet trained in Boston or New York City, he would be in the Hall of Fame."

It was at that Vermont tournament that Berry introduced himself to Wyman.

Wyman knew Berry's family, but not from boxing. Tagging along with his father as a boy, Wyman would travel to West Forks to go fly-fishing. Berry's General Store was the place in northern Somerset County to pick up essentials for a weekend trip.

"I'll never forget it," Wyman said. "Cliff (Berry's grandfather) would always give us a chocolate bar and a piece of sharp cheese each time we went up there fishing."

Things have a way of coming full circle. Berry hopes to eventually win enough money as a boxer to save the store, which has taken a hit from the tough economy of the past six or seven years.

THE BOXING CLUB

The outside of Wyman's Boxing Club, on a dead-end street, looks more like the commercial fisherman's warehouse that it is than a training ground for boxers.

"I never guessed when we started this gym we would have made it this far," Wyman said.

Some 120 boxers have trained at Wyman's Boxing Club. Sixteen of them, including Travis, have won titles in regional Golden Gloves tournaments, fighting against many of the New England's top amateurs.

Training boxers is a hobby and a family affair for Wyman. Travis got the ball rolling and Skeet's wife, Keirsten, helps with the planning. Wyman is a commercial lobsterman by trade. His training time is all volunteer. None of the boxers at his club pays for training, including Berry.

In 2008, Berry committed to train with Wyman at the Stockton Springs gym. Berry proved himself on the amateur circuit over the next six years before turning pro last winter.

It's 225 miles round-trip from Berry's home in West Forks to the boxing club in Stockton Springs.

His relationship with Wyman is much more than fighter and trainer.

"Our relationship is like family," Berry said.

A TRAINER AND HIS FIGHTER

The fact Wyman is missing much of his right arm has never limited the quality of the training.

It didn't take long for Wyman to see that Brandon "The Cannon" Berry could be a successful fighter.

"We are as close as a trainer and fighter can be," Wyman said. "It is much more than boxing. I've never been this close to someone other than my son.

"But in the boxing game when you become friends, you become friends for life," he said. "And allies for life."

Michael G. Seamans can be contacted at 861-9260 or at:

mseamans@mainetoday.com

 

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