Youth Boxers, Wrestlers 'Slam' Big Cypress
By Ernie Tiger
BIG CYPRESS - The bell sounds and the "Clash of the Titans" begins. Two young Seminole Tribal members begin hurling punches at each other in a boxing ring at Ahfachkee Indian School. In a few minutes, the bell sounds again. A few bloody noses, a few hurt feelings, a handshake and lessons learned are the weekly fare for this summer's Big Cypress Youth Boxing Camp.
Down Snake Road apiece, on a big mat inside the Big Cypress gym, more Tribal members clash, but this time the gloves are off. It's the Big Cypress Youth Wrestling Camp. Head locks and body slams, sore muscles and a lot of sweat - and a few Stone Cold Steve Austin moves when the coach isn't looking - is the daily workout here.
Under the direction of Bonnie Canino, a two-time World Boxing and Kick Boxing champion, the daily boxing sparring sessions and the wrestling workouts, under the direction of champion South Broward High Wrestling coach Scott Stevens, are more than just competition and workout. Hidden within this program are lessons to be learned and character to build, says Lesley Y. Billie, who organized the unique Big Cypress camps:
"To me it is all about motivation and dedication, which is something our Tribal youth really need," says Lesley, who dons the gloves for a few swings at the heavy bag herself. "The competition makes it fun, but we are really trying to instill self confidence in these kids. Just by their nature boxing and wrestling can teach lessons and skills they can use in the real world as they grow older."
Eighteen Seminole youth (and two adults - Lesley Billie and Arlene Sanders) are participants in this very first Big Cypress Boxing/Wrestling Camp project. Fifteen are Big Cypress residents, two are from Hollywood: Marlon Foster and Austin Motlow and Nina Frias is from Immokalee. Two guests - Richie Melendez and Sarah C. Moreno - also participated. An actual boxing tournament is scheduled for August 2 at the end of the six-week training camp. After only two weeks, Ms. Canino enthusiastically remarked, "I can already see a marked improvement in self confidence."
The participants go through a series of exercises throughout the day. A four-hour workout with two-minute increments on each exercises, or "stations". The "stations" consist of an assortment of positions that insure each participant gets the best full body and cardiovascular workout as possible," says trainer and national Amateur Boxing Champion Ada "Ace" Veleiz.
The Boxing Camp evolved from Tribal member Billie Garcia's motivation to sharpen his skills as a boxer. There was no place in the immediate area where Garcia could go to in order hone his boxing skills. This inspired his aunt, Lesley Billie, to start the Summer Camp to involve the youth and adults in a program to either work on their physique or further their boxing training at a professional level.
Lesley asked Bonnie Canino, who has her own personal boxing camp throughout the summer, if she would be interested in teaching the Seminole Youth the basic techniques of boxing. Canino accepted the offer and created the B.C. Boxing Camp. *The Boxing Camp takes place Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the youth and Monday nights at 7 for adults. For more information on the Boxing Camp, call (941) 983-9659.
The Wrestling camp takes place on Wednesday and Thursday mornings supervised by 1998 Florida State Wrestling Champion Stevens and his assistant Bobby Souris. This is a very athletic training camp for the youths.
Training begins each morning with the youths running laps inside the Big Cypress Gymnasium. This is followed by a lengthy weightlifting session. Then the kids proceed to the wrestling mats where Stevens and Souris, demonstrate basic wrestling techniques. They even offer combination take down instruction for the kids showing more potential.
After basic techniques the youths break for lunch. Warm-ups - dodge ball or kick-ball -begin promptly at 1 p.m. and then it is back to wrestling drills.
Big Cypress Summer Boxing/Wrestling Camp Participants
Big Cypress: Kellie Tigertail, 11; Gregory Carter, 9; Sonny Billie, 11; Justin Osceola, 15; Alex Cypress, 8; James E. Billie II (Micco), 7; Owachiage Redman (Star), 13; Korey Sanders, 9; Dougie Sanders, 7; Clayton Sanders, 6; Toohokee Bowers, 15; Ildy Garcia, 13*; Billie Garcia, 15*; Lesley Y. Billie, 27; and Arlene M. Sanders, 28.
Hollywood: Marlon Foster, 9; Austina Motlow, 13;
Immokalee: Nina Frias, 12. Guest: Richie Melendez, 16*; Sarah C. Mareno, 12.
(*Did not attend full camp due to summer school)
A message from Lesley Y. Billie:
"To all our participants, I am so proud of you guys. I know how hard some days were but we all did this together. Thank you to all parents for sticking it out with your children. I know it has been tough but it's been fun, too. This is the first time I have ever put a summer camp together and it actually turned out nice.
"I want to say thank-you, thank you, thank you to our wonderful Chairman, who is also my handsome husband: If you didn't believe in me like you did, I am so sure no one else would; everyone probably would have laughed at me but thanks so much for approving our camp. If it weren't for you we wouldn't have had this nice camp.
"I also want to say thank you to a lot of people. If I forget to mention someone I will be so sorry.
"Thank you so much to our Council Rep. David Cypress, to B.C. Gym/Jack Gorton, George Grasshopper and staff.
"I can always, always depend on the Ahfachkee School. Thanks so much Dr. Gaffney and Dr. Bird and the best part "the cafeteria" - (the best in town) run by Mrs. Rose Gattone. She's the best and employees and staff at the school have always said positive things and kept our heads up. Thanks for coming out to watch the kids.
"And, of course, Miss Bonnie Canino and Miss "Ace" Ada Veleiz who ran our boxing camp. Also we have an awesome class Kardio/Kickboxing class at 7 p.m. on Monday nights only. She's the Dr. when it comes to aerobic class.
"Without James Billie, Bonnie and Ace, Ahfachkee and Mrs. Rose, the B.C. Gym and, of course, the student participants it would not have been successful.
"Also a big thanks to my big dependable cousin, thanks for all the help in every which way Missy. She's been an active parent as well as myself. We both participate with the kids as well as box each other and work out. Please come out to support our youth. We are planning our boxing camp tournament on August 2 after lunch at Ahfachkee School, 1:30 p.m.
"We will also have exhibition fights put on by local amateur fighters as well as pro fighters.
"Also, thank you Darlene Quinn for introducing me to the boxing world.