Opportunity knocks for high school boxers

Thanks to a 45-year-old iron worker by the name of Danny Ray, who transformed his garage on Bonney Lake’s Angeline Road into a makeshift boxing club, the sweet science is slowly growing in popularity on the Plateau.

Three years ago, Pat McCleary, asked his old pal if he could take on the task of managing his son Jeremy’s budding boxing career.

As friends often do, after some hesitation and a bit more persuading, Ray reluctantly agreed to do his pal a favor and the tiny RayMac Boxing Gym was born.

Between rounds recently in the cozy quarters of the well-appointed little workout area, which includes a rough hewn but authentic boxing ring, replete with canvas and an electric timer, Ray said he has never regretted the decision to handle Jeremy, who is a month shy of 16 and currently a sophomore at White River High School.

“Jeremy is an extremely talented young man and is currently the best amateur in his weight class (125 pounds) in the entire state of Washington,” Ray said.

“He proved that unequivocally when he beat his closest competitor, Christian Gonzalez, at Evergreen High School’s Opportunity Knocks Event, March 27. Jeremy won by a unanimous decision in the bout that was probably the most action packed and exciting of the entire show,” Ray contended.

McCleary has accumulated a 29-10 record with a half-dozen knockouts.

McCleary is poetry in motion when fluidly bobbing and weaving between the ropes.

“I am glad I was able to convince my dad to get me started in this sport. I just love it,” McCleary said.

“I think of boxing as a discipline and the most important element of this discipline, at least in my opinion, is believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are going to prevail over whichever opponent is trying to knock you out,” said McCleary, whose all-time hero is Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.

Whitaker earned a gold medal for the United States at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles and went on to enjoy an illustrious professional career, using his effective southpaw defensive stance to earn world championship belts in four different weight classes.

McCleary will be participating in the Junior Olympic District Championships at the South Park Community Center April 24 with the elimination bouts commencing at 4 p.m.

McCleary aspires to travel the long and winding road that leads to boxing for the USA Olympic team in 2012.

“I feel like your longevity in this discipline is based on how much heart you have, how much sweat, time and toil you are willing to invest into your career,” said McCleary, who now shares his love for the sweet science with one of his best friends, J.J. Hernandez, who McCleary has known since the seventh grade and is a freshman at WRHS.

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“It took me awhile to get him to give RayMac a try, but now that he has been involved with it for about four months he likes it as much as I do. He told me the other day that he likes it more than any other sport he has ever been involved with,” McCleary said.

“I’m not trying to be boastful or anything, because I am just starting out. It might have been beginner’s luck, but I knocked my opponent down six seconds into the bout and around a minute later the referee stopped the fight. I’ll never forget the surprised and somewhat frightened expression on that guy’s face as he bounced off the canvas.”