Troy Charley, 13, has only been part of the SKIES Unlimited — Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration and Skills — youth boxing academy at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for about two months, but he didn’t seem new to the sport when he demonstrated what he’s learned during an open house event March 1 on Lewis Main.
“We’re going to put him to the test,” said Lydell Spry, a boxing instructor, to the parents and children attending the demonstration.
Troy went over the six-step basic boxing stance, the 19 defensive boxing moves and the most effective way to throw a punch from a boxing position. Spry then had Troy demonstrate a mixture of combinations. Troy rarely missed a beat.
“That’s a lot of information that he’s absorbed and can do it on rapid fire,” Spry said to prospective students in the bleacher seats. “Two-and-a-half months; you can do it.”
Other students who were as young as 5 showed what they’ve learned in their time spent with Spry, who has been involved with the sport since he was 13 in Los Angeles. Spry boxed through college and during his time in the Army — even making the All-Army boxing team and winning a title in Europe.
Spry has been teaching the sport since 1984 and has since established youth programs with the Thurston County Police Athletic League in Tumwater. He’s been teaching the sport on the installation since 2004.
In years past, the class has had as few as two or three young strikers, but the current enrollment averages between eight and 12 kids per class — a sign of growth for the program.
It’s a basic operation. While using one of the academy’s former classrooms, there are boxing gloves and headgear available to borrow. There are no punching bags. Parents are only required to purchase the hand wraps and mouth guards for their kids.
Spry’s focus is on the instructional part; he’ll decide if a youth is ready for a competitive boxing match at a local youth tournament.
“You can’t ride a bicycle unless you ride a tricycle,” he said.
It’s not just a program that teaches how to throw a hook, uppercut, jab or a combination of punches; it’s more than something that can be used for sport or self-defense. Spry sprinkles in life skills that he expects to be taken home, to school and beyond.
“(I’m teaching) how to be courteous and respectful in this program — responsible, accountable and reliable,” Spry said. “And you need that anywhere in life, if you’re the CEO or the person just starting out.”
Heather Everett has enrolled her three children into the boxing program: Gabriel, 9, Isabel, 7 and Michael, 5. The oldest has been in the class for more than a year, and his siblings have for approximately six months. Each of them are signed up for different reasons.
Everett said Gabriel is an athlete who hasn’t tried a sport he doesn’t like. Isabel uses the boxing class for exercise and the physical education portion of her homeschooling curriculum. Michael is getting an early introduction to discipline through the activity.
Everett said Spry requires his students to be just as respectful at home as they are expected to be in his class.
“All in all as a family, we believe in what Coach Spry is doing with this program,” Everett said. “They absolutely respect coach’s word, and it’s helped to have his support for our parenting.”
For more information about SKIES Unlimited’s boxing academy, visit jblmmwr.com/cyss_skies or call 253-966-3539.