Published: August 28, 2013
The relatives of Keoni Adric Jr. and Shakur Stevenson knew their boys were destined for boxing.
"Something just happened when he was age 2," Stevenson's grandfather and trainer, Willie Moses, said. "He was watching boxing on TV and he just started punching. He liked the sweet science immediately and has been determined to succeed ever since. He's been easy to train from the start. He's very self-motivated and disciplined."
The two youth boxers took part in a second 17-day-long training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in August. It was led by USA Boxing international training coach Pedro Roque, formerly of Cuba, and the most decorated Olympic-style boxing coach of the past decade.
The camp is preparation for the 2013 AIBA Junior World Championships, in Kiev, Ukraine, Sept. 5-15.
Adric became hooked at age 7, watching his father, Keoni Adric Sr., train at a gym in Hawaii. A year later, the now-15-year-old was boxing.
It can be a challenge to live with your trainer, especially when he is your father.
"It's also a positive," Adric said. "He keeps an eye on what I eat 24/7 and makes sure I get in my workouts instead of playing video games. That is good for me."
"It isn't always easy on him," his father admitted. "But it shows how committed he is that it isn't difficult to get him back training. He took to the sport immediately."
That commitment has led to good results. The lightweight (132 pounds) won the Junior World Team Open and Junior Olympic National Championships and placed second at the Victory Day Tournament in the Ukraine.
That provided valuable experience, both in facing an international field and the subjectivity of judges.
"He learned you cannot leave any doubt who won," Keoni Sr. said. "He won but it was close. The judges chose wrong."
The camp has provided valuable experience to both boxers.
"I have been training a lot harder thanks to this altitude," Adric Jr. said. "I'm learning a lot from watching all these boxers and from Coach Pedro too."
"Especially coach Pedro," Adric Sr. said. "I am learning a lot from him too."
For Stevenson, the experience was invaluable, especially the one-on-one coaching with Roque.
"I'm just trying to do everything he says," the light bantamweight (114 pounds) from New Jersey said.
He is on a roll after winning all four major tournaments. Not surprisingly, the 16-year-old is confident about the world championships and his Olympic future.
"I'm going to get the gold at worlds and someday the Olympics in 2016 or 2020," he said.
For his grandfather, there is little doubt the boy will wear the red, white and blue and some gold in a few years.
"He is one of 18 grandsons and he has set a high standard for the others," Moses said. "Pedro has shown him what he needs to do and his (Stevenson's) dedication is tremendous. He will represent this great country well."