“Have a safe flight, let me know when you land safely no matter what time it is.”
My first impression of Triple Threat Gym coach Charles Leverette was surprise. Really, he wants to know when I touch down despite me already making it clear that it would be in the wee hours of the morning? Interesting. That interest would then amplify into curiosity and then eventually into full blown eagerness. Eagerness for what? Eagerness to prove myself to coach Lev, as everyone in Triple Threat is trying to do.
Staff Sergeant Charles Leverette of the U.S. Army was a decorated amateur. He won multiple gold medals for the All-Army Armed Forces and was a medalist at the Pan American Games Qualifiers and the U.S. Olympic Trials. After his amateur days he served as a coach for the USA boxing team and was the All-Army and Armed Forces head coach, among other duties.
Triple Threat Gym Training Camp Notes
The scene that greeted me pulling up to the gym was that of an airport hanger, although perhaps that is a bit obvious as it is located immediately next to the Colorado Springs Airport. The gym itself is newer and looks like a modern warehouse of sorts, with plenty of ceiling to make one wonder if it had multiple levels.
Anyone that walks through the doors of the Triple Threat Gym is welcome. Coach Lev doesn’t so much require you prove anything to him other than the capability to listen and work hard. He wants you to be the best and if it’s too much for someone to handle he will be the first to say “don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.” Here’s the very interesting part though; you are most certainly welcome back. In fact, one gets the feeling that you are challenged to come back and prove yourself no matter if you are walking out head high or door hitting your backside down low. Underneath that competition coach Lev aims to be a genuine leader though; one that builds an amazing team and inspires everyone to be better than the day before.
After talking with coach Lev about some of his training stories with the 2012 Olympic team that has produced notable professionals such as Deontay Wilder, Rau’Shee Warren, Errol Spence Jr and Joseph Diaz Jr, among others, I made my way into the gym. My eyes got wide as I saw a plethora of fighters ranging from Sammy Vasquez and Terence Crawford to young kids and ladies kickboxing.
Sammy Vasquez’s camp was winding down a bit at this point seeing as the most important fight of his career was less than a week away. He will be fighting Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz in the pre main event slot of the televised portion of Premier Boxing Champions on Fox Sports 1 card on July 16th. He has the honor of fighting right before Deontay Wilder takes the stage to defend his WBC heavyweight title before his hometown crowd in Birmingham Alabama. Sammy aims to impress and become a star – he told me more than once that he knows what’s at stake here.
Sammy Vasquez craves action and competition. This was obvious to me right from the start of sparring as I got sprayed with sweat from a left hand blasting the body of his sparring partner. This prompted me to ask coach Lev if I could take a picture of the fast action or perhaps even a quick video – with emphasis on quick so that no secrets would be given away. Coach Lev was amenable. “Ain’t no one minute video gonna do any harm. If we lose the fight because of a one minute video we were going to lose in the first place!”
Sammy’s sparring showed his tremendous stamina and strength as he started to dominate all of his sparring partners after the first round or two. His footwork and reflexes are fast which makes him a hard target to hit and he gets great pleasure in his opponent knowing that he is better than them – his face gives it away every time.
When Sammy sits down on his shots you can hear them and feel them from outside the ring. He has a different rhythm than any fighter I have seen. It will be a cold day in hell when Sammy fights someone else’s fight. As the rounds go on, he seems to get more and more energy. He strikes me as the type of fighter that is easily cut out for fifteen rounders if we still had them.
After his sparring Sammy worked the mitts and then did abdominals as assistant coach Ryan Rimsek slammed the mantis pads down on his stomach. A simple sit-up isn’t enough for Vasquez.
Coach Rimsek is a character all his own. Everyone has a role on this team and coach Rim ensures that when Sammy goes to war he brings a defense with him. Coach Rim works both the mitts and the sticks (he might be prone to call them his limp noodles) in order to get Vasquez intuitively thinking defense. Not an easy task for an offensive fighter but as you watch Sammy slipping and blocking the sticks coming at him nonstop you realize suddenly when the session is over that he may have gotten touched flush only a couple times. Don’t get hit by the limp noodles coming at you a hundred miles per hour from both hands and you won’t get hit by a freight train right hand or scything left hook in a real fight. Coach Rim hopes to make it instinctual.
My visit would end with coach Leverette talking about getting his first shot under the tutelage of his well-known coach Mike Stafford and making the most of it. As I relayed my enthusiasm for boxing journalism and for being the conduit between the gym and the fans, he got a twinkle in his eye and said “Kid Hersh, you are now the team’s journalist. I’m going to give you a chance, just like I got. You are welcome any time in this gym.” As with everyone else who walks in the doors at Triple Threat, I only hope I can make coach Lev proud.
Check out Kid Hersh’s video interview with Sammy Vasquez at The Boxing ChannelSammy Vasquez Interview.
Triple Threat Gym Training Camp Notes / Picture: Staff Sgt. Charles Leverette, far right.