LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (NCC News) – Almost every small town has a superstar athlete at its high school. They’re a player that captivates, a player that amazes, a player that leaves a lasting impression. What most small towns don’t have, however, is a high school athlete who has already made his professional debut. That’s exactly the case, though, for nearby Liverpool.
Bryce Mills is a senior at Liverpool High School and is one of the most fearsome linebacker/running back combos in all of Central New York on the football field. Despite that prowess, football is not the sport in which Mills really excels. Instead of on the gridiron, Mills does his best work in the boxing ring.
The budding star made his professional kickboxing debut in Dubai back in May and won his first career boxing match with ease, defeating former Greece national champion, Antonis Stroutzalis, by TKO in less than one minute.
He went on to make his stateside debut in August and has since decided to focus his path and dedicate his career to traditional boxing rather than kickboxing.
“I was brought up in martial arts and kickboxing my whole life,” Mills said. “But I did have probably 15-16 amateur boxing fights as well.”
Much like his pro debut, those amateur boxing fights were also very successful. In 2017, at the age of 15, Mills won the Silver Gloves Boxing national championship. That success made the transition to traditional boxing an easy one.
“I always usually just stick to my hands,” Mills said. “That’s one of the strong suits of my game and we said, ‘You know what, why not convert to boxing?’ because really it could be the best career path for me.”
It hasn’t always been about boxing and kickboxing for Mills, though. It began at the age of four when he decided to start taking karate lessons at Impact Martial Arts in Liverpool. In unsurprising fashion, Bryce was a double black belt at the age of 11 before he decided he wanted a new challenge.
“I wouldn’t say I was bored of karate,” Mills said. “But I just wanted to try something new and I was interested. I was always good in sparring in the martial arts aspect of things and I was like, you know what, why not try fighting? Why not try boxing?”
Mills says balancing his burgeoning fighting career, football and everyday teenage life isn’t an easy task, but one that is more than worth pursuing.
“You’ve just got to force yourself to do it,” Mills said. “In the end, you’ve got to realize that the reward is more than the sacrifice you have to make. It outweighs that.”
The sacrifices Mills has already made in his young life are certainly not simple ones, but the success he’s enjoying at such a young age has set him on a rocket-like upward trajectory. For some 18-year-olds that might inflate their ego, but Mills’ football coach at Liverpool High School, Dave Mancuso, says that’s just not Bryce.
“He’s such a great kid,” Mancuso said. “Sometimes those guys walk around like they’re great, because they are. But Bryce is just such the opposite. How he balances everything and he’s just so humble, it’s just amazing. It’s uncanny”
That unselfish attitude, plus the boatload of talent Bryce possesses means that the potential for his future boxing career is bright.
“I think it’s [Bryce’s potential] endless,” Mills’ fighting coach, Jim Andrello, said. “In the sport of boxing or kickboxing, either one, I think he can take it as far as he wants to take it. He certainly has the work ethic and the talent.”
When Mills graduates from Liverpool High School this spring, he intends to continue pursuing his professional fighting career while also attending college, looking to gain his degree in either exercise science or business.