OWLS HEAD — Since his younger days, Troy Marriner’s nose has not left the grindstone.

From lobstering on his grandfather Laurence’s boat, Mandy-Lee, as a child, to having his own fishing boat at age 15 — while mowing “14 to 15 lawns” in his rare spare time — Marriner has never had an “off” switch.

Troy Marriner poses next to Wyman’s Boxing Club sign. Photo courtesy of Troy Marriner.

Now, the 31-year-old Owls Head resident continuously has said switch in the “on” position.

The same mentality that kept Marriner going at a young age propelled him into a sport — namely, boxing — he hoped to tackle since those days long ago aboard his grandfather’s boat.

Getting started 

Working hard day in and day out after school kept Marriner out of trouble, as his father had a “reputation in town,” and not one looked kindly on.

“I knew if I went down that road it would get me nowhere besides trouble,” Marriner said. “(My father) told me that from a young age. I didn’t want to do wrong about my dad.”

Marriner “thought about boxing a lot” in his younger years, as his grandfather — who “pretty much brought me up” — watched boxing.

“I always wanted to box, but I can’t say I was always a fan of it,” Marriner said. “I watched a ton of it, but for some reason it was always in my mind. I’d be out on my grandfather’s lobster boat shadowboxing, and one day he brought me a punching bag. I would hit it, but I knew there was a technique behind it, skills, and a sport, so I knew I needed a coach”

Marriner’s busy schedule growing up made it nearly impossible to have time for coaching, though, as his time on the boat and mowing lawns in his early teens was a full-time job.

The daily grind persisted into his late-20s, when, one day, Marriner was at his regular workout gym — which he received a key from the owner to be at after it closed because the mens’ schedules never aligned — and got the urge to search for boxing gyms in the Midcoast.

“I’d always be by myself boxing (at the gym), and for some reason I looked down at my phone and typed in ‘boxing near me,’ and I knew about the gym in Portland, but Wyman’s Boxing [of Stockton Springs] popped up,” Marriner recalled. “I called, but didn’t get an answer. Mike Leary’s boxing gym also popped up, so I called him and got an answer. I told him my age and such, and he gave me Skeet Wyman’s number. I called Skeet and we instantly clicked on the phone.”

Another challenge arose in Marriner’s boxing dreams, as the pandemic began in March of 2020, but luck was on his side despite the world’s upheaval.

“Skeet said if you come right now — even though the gym was closed due to COVID — we can talk,” Marriner said. “I was so excited I got into my car and drove, but forgot to (clean) up at the gym. On the way there, the guy that owned the gym called and asked if I was okay because I never leave the gym a mess when I leave, so he thought something happened (to me).”

“Troy has been coming since March 28, 2020,” said Wyman, who owns Wyman’s Boxing Gym. “He called me a week after I shut the gym down due to COVID-19, and wanted to come up and meet me and see the gym. I said, ‘Why don’t you hold off until September. I’m hoping this will blow by.’ He was pretty persistent in coming and meeting me that day. I told him if he was that adamant about it, come on up.”

“I drove up and met coach, and, honestly, couldn’t believe it all,” Marriner said. “There was a lobster boat and bait there; it was like a match made in heaven.”

Boxing shape 

When Marriner and Wyman got to work, Marriner’s body needed reshaping from a weight lifter into a boxer. With COVID-19 sidelining most people at home, Wyman and Marriner worked exclusively with each other from “April to June of 2020,” Wyman said.

“I worked exclusively with Troy for about four or five months,” Wyman said. “There were no bad habits [with Troy]. Troy walked through my door as a big dude, and after being here two to three weeks he was serious about it. I told him if he wants to be a boxer, we need to lose all that extra bulk. Troy went from lifting weights to doing 3,000-plus situps, pushups, and crunches per week, as well as yoga.”

“When I walked in I was 238 pounds, all muscle and some fat, but bulky,” said Marriner. We got to work and the first day I realized my cardio needed a lot of work. The first three months the gym was closed so it was just me and Skeet, one-on-one. COVID shut me down from fishing in the early spring, so it was perfect. I’d work out two- to two-and-a-half hours just me and Skeet.”

Troy Marriner, left, spars with Skeet Wyman at Wyman’s Boxing Club in Stockton Springs. Courtesy of Troy Marriner.

Marriner admits getting into shape was “different” because he was large, since he had to get into “boxing shape,” which, included: bag work, jump roping, and running; a lot of running.

“Coach kept drilling running into my head,” Marriner said. “I remember running my first mile and I probably stopped eight times, since all I did before was lift weights. I told [Skeet] I’d run every day, and eventually it got easier. That first mile, though, I still remember it; I knew I was out of shape.”

After Marriner mastered the running, sparring was next, which, was another level of “boxing shape” he was not prepared for.

“You think you’re getting into good shape, but once you start sparring it’s a totally different ballgame again, and I knew I still wasn’t in great shape,” Marriner said. “I’m a totally different animal from where I was two years ago when I started.”

“He’s come a long way; he’s improved ten-fold since his time here,” Wyman said. “He’s always smiling, always in a good mood, and nothing gets him down.”

First cracks in the ring

Marriner’s hard work and determination with Wyman — as well as on his own — got him down to 195 pounds, and ready for his first competitive fight at the Golden Gloves of Northern New England competition on July 17, 2021 in Somersworth, N.H.

Marriner came out swinging — literally — as he took home the title in the heavyweight division.

“To get into the ring, and all the anticipation is something I have to get used to,” Marriner said. “To win is a rush. I’ve never had a feeling like that before. It really motivates you to keep going.”

With his first win under his belt and the taste of victory, Marriner went back to training with Wyman and sparring with Justin Rolfe from New Hampshire — a professional boxer with a heavyweight title, multiple belts and 12 years experience.

“I wouldn’t be able to accomplish this [without Rolfe],” said Marriner. “He’s good, and he really pushes me. After every sparring session I want to go right back in.”

Troy Marriner, left, with his wife, Alyssa, at the Northern New England Golden Gloves tournament. Photo courtesy of Troy Marriner.

The opening month of 2022 gave Marriner another crack at victory, as he participated in the Northern New England Golden Gloves tournament back in Somersworth on Jan. 15.

The plan was for Marriner to again compete in the heavyweight division, but his opponent came down with COVID, which moved Marriner up to the super heavyweight division.

Marriner won his first fight, but lost the second, ultimately, finishing runner-up in a division he was undersized for.

“[Wyman] said I won, because the guy (I fought) was puking in the parking lot while I was fine,” Marriner said. “The judges went in his favor. It was a good time and a good experience.”

Future boxing career

Marriner knows he is behind the eight-ball when it comes to boxing, since he started later than others. But, that fact does not limit his aspirations of winning more titles, and maybe bringing boxing back to Rockland.

“Realistically, I’m 31 years old, and I just want to be on the highest level I can get to,” Marriner said. “I would like to have my kitchen table full of trophies and win a belt. If we get to a point and turn pro, that would be amazing.”

“Troy said he would like to do it and turn pro, and if that’s in the cards — and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be,” said Wyman. “He’s plenty talented enough. We’ll see how it plays out, but we are a long ways from there.”

For now, though, Marriner is content with what each day brings.

“I take one day at a time and don’t take a big picture,” he said. “Just give 100 percent on that day. I’m fortunate enough I make a good living lobstering, and if things keep going this way and [I] haul traps during the week and win a trophy on the weekend, it doesn’t get any better than that.”