SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Some people start boxing because their parents put them in a class at an early age. Some start because they’re naturally competitive. Some people start boxing because they want to channel their built-up energy towards something.
For Syracuse native Raimier “Lungz” Walker, it was all of the above. And his grit and dedication are turning heads across the amateur world of boxing.
Walker is 18 years old and is already on the rise in his weight class at 125 pounds. Despite how young he is, he’s been competing in tournaments since he was eight.
“I’ve been international, I’ve fought top fighters in thr country, all kinds of stuff,” Walker said. “I’ve been all over the world.”
Raimier said he’s traveled as far as Spain and Serbia to compete. Walker grew up playing football and basketball as well, but there was always something special about being in the ring.
“People thought I was better at basketball, but with boxing I can take out frustration,” Walker said. “I’m a fighter, I like to fight.”
Coach Curtis Chaplan has been in Walker’s corner ever since the beginning. And it was when Walker first started training that his nickname “Lungz” came to be.
“Oh man, he doesn’t get tired,” Chaplan said. “I actually remember watching him spar 20 rounds straight. It was crazy.”
His stamina is just one reason why Buffalo Golden Gloves just named “Lungz” New York state’s number one boxer in his weight class. But what really impresses Chaplan is his leadership and how all the kids look up to him.
“He’s an amazing leader,” Chaplan said. “It’s hard sometimes because the kids will see him do something and then they’ll try to do it. But they want to be like him. His leadership skills are out of this world.”
And for Chaplan, he says it’s been an honor and a privilege for him to watch Walker grow.
Both Chaplan and Walker know that “Lungz” doesn’t lack confidence, but at the end of the day, it’s all about having the right mindset.
“Even if other people are doing something else, stay focused,” Walker said.
Walker will compete in the Junior Olympics in July, as well as the Buffalo Golden Gloves tournament in August.
His long-term goal is to be inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame – a museum in Canastota that is practically in his backyard.