Berry, Stearns shine at Saturday night fights
Belfast — Two locally trained fighters not only won their matches during the live amateur boxing event at Belfast Area High School Saturday night, June 23, but earned additional honors at the end of the night for their overall performances in the ring.
Wyman's Boxing Club sent a total of five boxers who were training at the Stockton Springs gym in recent weeks, and of the five who competed, three won their matches — 9-year-old Wyatt Stearns of Belfast, 20-year-old Josh Bickford of Mount Holly, Vt., and 24-year-old Brandon Berry of The Forks.
Berry, who intends to step up to the professional level following his final amateur match Saturday night, competed in the main event and was the victor in a hard-fought scrap with his opponent, Derrick Whitley, from Whitley's Boxing in Massachusetts. At the close of the event, officials awarded Berry and Whitley the honor of outstanding bout of the night.
Wyman's Boxing Club coach and owner Ken "Skeet" Wyman said both Berry and Whitley gave the crowd a great fight to watch.
"They definitely came to fight, that's for sure," said Wyman. "It was a tremendous job by both of them."
Wyman said Whitley had 10 pounds on Berry, but the weight advantage wasn't enough to stop Berry, a fighter who routinely travels 700 miles per week to train with Wyman in Stockton Springs.
"He's a nice kid, and he'll be my first professional fighter," said Wyman of Berry. "He's worked hard, and he's earned it."
Stearns is the youngest of Wyman's boxers and is the son of Greg Stearns, a local former boxer who assists Wyman with training the new generation of fighters. Stearns, fighting in the 80-pound weight class, defeated his opponent, Angel Tricoche, with Haverhill Boxing Club out of Massachusetts. Stearns and Tricoche went for three one-minute rounds at the start of the evening, with Stearns coming out on top and also earning the honor of outstanding boxer of the night.
Monday, June 25, Greg Stearns said seeing his son win the overall honor was both overwhelming and shocking, as he's never seen a fighter that young win that particular award. Wyatt Stearns was equally shocked; on Sunday morning, the youth admired the two trophies he brought home Saturday night and told his dad, "I still can't believe it."
Monday Wyman said Stearns wowed the spectators and seasoned young boxers alike with his performance on Saturday night. Wyman's son Travis, a former Golden Gloves champ himself, told his father it "would be an injustice" for the judges to have given the outstanding boxer award to anyone other than the youngest fighter.
"He threw nothing but nice, clean and straight shots," said Wyman of Stearns' fight. "It was just beautiful. He was the whole package, and I was so impressed that a 9-year-old kid put it all together better than anyone else."
To top off the wins for Wyman's, Bickford bested Juan Lopez, with Portland Boxing Club.
Those who fell short of capturing the win managed to put on quite a show for the spectators, with Wyman's Joel Bishop and Phil Kyser both battling through three two-minute rounds. Bishop competed against Justin Kennie, with Portland Boxing Club — a match-up that resulted in a nosebleed for Bishop, but did not stop him from finishing the fight — while Kyser boxed Julio Rivera, with the South End Community Center out of Massachusetts.
Wyman said holding a local boxing event was reminiscent of the time he and Greg Stearns spent learning the sport under the guidance of the late Bruce Copson during the 1980s, and expressed thanks to the local sponsors who have done everything from providing a port-a-potty at the Stockton Springs gym to helping cover the costs of putting out-of-town fighters up for the night. Those sponsors include Kinney's Construction and Tozier's Family Market, Searsport Automotive, Dutch Chevrolet, Knox Bros. Auto Parts and C.E. Cross Repairs, and Wyman also gave special thanks to Joe DuBois of Searsport for recording all of the boxers' information for the ringside physician's use, as well as Dr. Howard Jones of Stockton Springs for his professional support at Wyman's events.
"Without these sponsors, there's no possible way we could do this," said Wyman.
Given the response from Saturday's event, Wyman is optimistic that boxing could be growing in popularity in Waldo County once again. Since the weekend event, Wyman said he's had a couple of youths contact him with interest in getting back to the gym and resuming their training, and he's already toying with the idea of holding another local boxing event this coming fall.
A few years down the road, Wyman said, he hopes to see the boxers he's training now become mentors to those who come after them.
"That's what it's all about," said Wyman.