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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

Nevadan teaches boxers to fight

Thursday, September 27, 2012

(Photo)
Rick Culler, right, owner and trainer at Ground Up Boxing Gym, works on defensive skills with Cameron Parker on Wednesday afternoon in his gym on East Wall street.
(Laurie Sisk/Fort Scott Tribune)
Nevadan Rick Culler's mantra is "everything starts from the ground up," so it makes perfect sense that he named his new gym in the 1500 block of East Wall Street The Ground Up Boxing Gym.

At first sight, it's simplistic -- a three-sided building with a concrete floor, covered from the elements with corrugated aluminum and two-by-fours, all housing a massive boxing ring where Culler trains potential fighters of all ages, genders and sizes. The warm afternoon sun cascades in from an open north side as Culler readies himself for the arrival of his Wednesday night classes.

He is undeniably working "from the ground up."

His "students" -- as he calls them -- are varied, ranging in age from eight to 60. They are kids, police officers, paramedics and a 43-year-old female teacher.

Though it is a boxing gym, classes also are catered toward weight loss and general fitness.

By profession, Culler is a landlord. His idea of opening a gym wasn't about making money, it was about sharing his passion for boxing with anyone who will take that first step into his gym. It seems almost obscene to call it a business -- he has taken out no loans, everything has been paid for in cash -- little by little -- out of his own pocket.

He charges $40 a month for membership, which includes two classes a week -- Mondays and Wednesdays -- and an open gym for fitness training from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. He also offers an all-female class on Thursdays. There are no locks and people come and go as they please through the open north side.

"You can come in and work out anytime; we've got speed bags weights, double-end bags, medicine balls, heavy bags, jump ropes, a stair climber -- everything you need to fight," Culler said.

Culler has admittedly been robbed four times since opening in June, but that still doesn't stop the way he conducts business.

"It's been difficult, because most of the calls I get are people that can't afford it, and that's OK," Culler said. "If you can't afford it, I'll still train you, so that's why the gym is kind of slow on getting everything done."

Culler, now 30, began boxing as a 13-year-old and claimed a silver medal in the Junior Olympics in Kansas City, Mo., in one of his first few fights.

Culler's boxing connections run deep and also serve to benefit members of the gym. With friends like Bryan Fahnestock, who comes to the gym to spar from Nevada, Culler is concentrating on giving his students what they need to succeed in the ring. Culler said Fahnestock has more than 80 amateur fights under his belt and is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation at 147 pouonds.

"There's not a lot of people around here that have the skills or knowledge to train and take fighters to that next level because this sport hasn't been around the community much," Culler said.

But putting leather to an opponent's face isn't Culler's only passion.

He said he is currently writing a book about boxing, which he hopes to get published soon.

"I've been writing it for about 17 years and I'm just about finished. It shows a lot of the stuff that most of the fighters, even the professional fighters, don't know," Culler said.

He said he has worked with "tons" of boxers, fighting all over Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Hollywood, Calif., for seven years before moving to Nevada.

Culler also has trained with the likes of WBC and WBA World Champion Roberto Duran in Panama City, Panama.

"I've been all over with boxing. It's been a big part of my life," he said.

Culler, who has been deployed to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, was injured while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq and sports a large scar on his back.

"I've got three crushed vertebrae and I still fight," Culler said. "They cut out one of my vertebrae, so now I concentrate more on working with my students, making sure they get the development that they need."

One of his students is Cameron Parker, 22, a former Fort Scott High School wrestler, who Culler said should be ready for his first fight next month in Kansas City, Mo.

Parker has been training with Culler since the gym opened in June and is confident he will be ready.

"He's got a hard punch, it feels like rocks hitting my head," Culler said of Parker.

Culler said he gives his students all they can handle for the first three weeks to determine if they have the moxie to continue their journey to becoming a fighter.

"It's a lot harder than I thought it would be," Parker said of his training, "But it's a lot of fun. I really enjoy it."

Culler said the first part of the training is probably the hardest.

"I want them to die," Culler smiled. "This ain't MMA; you can't tap out. You got two choices -- you're going to win or lose, or you can get knocked out, but you ain't going to quit."

Culler's passion for boxing is evident and passing his knowledge along may be his way of repaying the sport that he said gave him so much.

"There's a lot of things people can learn from boxing," Culler said. "There's a lot of self-improvement involved as well. People encourage each other. You get to see a lot of things. I grew up a very poor kid and I wasn't able to get out of my town. The only way I got to see the world was by boxing. I'd go to all these other towns and meet all these other new friends. Boxing took me a lot of places."


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Good for Rick. All people, men and women, must know how to protect themselves.

Denny Mclaughlin

Colorado Springs, Co

-- Posted by tcheck6 on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 7:46 PM


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