Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- Sgt. Darnell Price battled his way through the some of the country’s finest boxers in the last few months to represent the region in the national stage at the 2013 National Golden Glove Tournament of Champions at Salt Lake City.
The former member of the All-Marine Boxing Team and heavyweight boxer triumphed in his first match of the tournament and hopes to continue to the bitter end.
“I’m going to fight as hard as my body allows,” said Price. “Then I’m going to give it some more.”
After the All-Marine Boxing Team disbanded, many of the team’s boxers had to put the sport on hold. Price, a member of the All-Marine Boxing Team from August 2011 until its end in the fall of 2012, took his training into his own hands and is using his skills to compete at some of the highest levels an amateur boxer can.
He returned to the sport on a whim. After months away, he saw an online advertisement for the North Carolina Golden Gloves State Championship. He decided to register.
“It was an opportunity to see if I still had it,” said Price.
He borrowed a fellow Marine’s car, drove from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to Charlotte, N.C. and weighed in. The next morning he fought and defeated a boxer who was a head taller than him. In the moment his opponents punch landed, Price’s training returned to him and he was in the fight.
“He hit me with the first shot of that fight, and it woke me up,” said Price. “I put my hands up and just started swinging and whaling on him, not too excessive, not too wild, just enough to keep the pressure on him.”
“I drove four hours. I slept in a car. I could not lose to this guy,” Price added.
This is not Price’s first opportunity to fight at the National Golden Gloves. Just last year, he qualified for the event, but his obligations with the All-Marine Boxing Team led him to the Virginia Gauntlet, where he defeated Royal Marine Anthony Graham. Spectators said it was the most exciting fight of the day, according to the “Quantico Sentry.”
Price expected to fight at the National Golden Gloves as a part of the All-Marine Boxing Team last year, but fate pushed him to get there a different way.
“Somebody told me (about National Golden Gloves), ‘You’re young; you’ll always have next year,’ but when the team was disbanded I thought. ‘There is no next year now,’” said Price.
The though was only in his head momentarily.
“I decided I can make sure there’s a next year; I can get there again,” said Price.
After his triumph at Charlotte, Price needed to find a way to train. His work schedule made it difficult to seek training through traditional means. Much of his training happened on his own, occasionally at the Warriors Den, a Swansboro, N.C., mixed martial arts gym, and with a handful of friends who fought in other specialties, such as wrestling, karate and mixed martial arts.
He fought against the best fighters he knew.
“I started training with them at a (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) dojo,” said Price. “I didn’t have an actual gym to go to.”
He handled his boxing training on his own – from memory. He used more discipline than he thought possible. Before, Price needed somebody to correct him when he made lazy mistakes, but while training on his own, he became more attentive.
“It wouldn’t be worth it if it wasn’t difficult,” said Price.
Price joined the Marine Corps with the aim of joining the All-Marine Boxing Team, and although the team is gone, he chose to continue fighting for his dream.
Boxing is more than a game to Price. It is one of many ways he shows love for his three-year-old daughter, Julyanna, who lives across the country.
Julyanna is his biggest influence these days. She shows him he can’t give up because her well being is dependent on his ability to succeed, Price said.
Boxing is also a way to carry on traits he learned from his mother such as strength and resilience. She displayed her tenacity to him every day when she overcame obstacles as a social worker.
“She is a very resilient woman,” said Price “The things she went through every day, helping people in neighborhoods who didn’t have the advantages most of America has, is awe inspiring.”
Every time his mother met resistance, she continued smiling, but kept pushing, said Price. He describes her as calm and patient.
“That’s something I use in boxing,” said Price. “You can’t rush. You have to be calm and patient to see what your opponent is giving you.”
Price is fighting in the hope of rising to the top, but he is happy as long as he gives it his all against every opponent he meets in the ring.
“Winning is nice, but it’s not always about winning,” said Price. “You have to leave your soul in the ring, you leave everything there. I have fought national champs, people who are the best in the game. Sometimes I lost, but I make sure I give them hell. I live with no regrets. I’m not going to back up or back down. I will fight as hard as I know I can.”
Regardless of the outcome of the tournament, Price’s journey is not over. He hopes to find a gym to train at to continue competing so one day he can join the professional ranks of boxing. He plans to one day open a gym of his own to train students much in the way he trained.
“I won’t stop boxing,” said Price. “Boxing is a way of life. It’s what I love. I’m still young. I haven’t reached my prime yet.”
The 2013 National Golden Glove Tournament of Champions is scheduled to conclude May 18.