WILLIAMSON – In the 1950s through the 1970s boxing was a popular sport in the Williamson and Delbarton areas with Golden Gloves and even professional fighters. Tournaments were held in the old Burch High School gym, Williamson Fieldhouse and other locations.
Tommy Diamond II hopes to bring the sport back to the status it once held in the region. He has opened Diamond’s Boxing Gym in the old Western Auto building on Second Avenue in Williamson. (The building is now owned by Marcum Law Office, who has the street level office and rents the upstairs to Diamond.)
Diamond II followed in the footsteps of his father Tommy Diamond, Sr., who was a former boxer and later a local pugilist coach. The elder Diamond, a Delbarton native, was the U.S. Marine Corps middleweight champion in the late 1960s and was one fight away from making the Olympic team. He came back to the Delbarton area where he coached many amateur fighters in the Golden Gloves, several won local, regional and state championships.
He later coached his son in both amateur and professional boxing.
They both want to see the sport thriving again in the Tug Valley area.
“I had my first fight in 1988 and retired in 2002. I had some big shoes to fill,” the younger Diamond said. “I can’t fill them – but if it’s in your blood – it’s hard to get it out.”
“I wanted to get back and involved in the sport,” Diamond said. “I called Justin (Marcum) in January about the building and he told me to get it started.”
“Justin said he had the building and space available and I started ordering the equipment,” Diamond II added.
He has purchased a new ring, heavy bags, speed bags, a weight room, gloves and protective equipment. Diamond has invested a lot in new state-of-the-art equipment.
Currently Diamond has six young amateur boxers he is already training and one professional fighter. “We are excited about Austin Marcum,” Diamond said of the local pro from the Breeden area of Mingo County.
Marcum recently suffered a hand injury, but is working to get in shape for a bout to be held in Moundsville at the old state prison dubbed “Prisonfest.” Marcum is fighting at around 156 pounds.
“He is a strong kid and stays in shape,” Diamond said.
Diamond hopes to promote a local card and hold it at the historic Williamson Fieldhouse in September. He has talked to former professional Warren Browning about coming out of retirement for one of the bouts. Marcum will also fight in the local event and Diamond hopes to get a couple of boxers from promoter and coach John Johnson from Columbus, Ohio to come down to West Virginia to fight. Johnson, a native of Red Jacket, is the former coach of heavyweight champion Buster Douglas.
Their goal is to get 4-to-5 fights on the local boxing card.
Diamond hopes to get some amateur tournaments and possible Golden Gloves matches in the future to get some younger boxers involved.
He believes that the sport of boxing is making a comeback. “I don’t get into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts),” said Diamond. “Boxing is an art – you have to learn it. Not just anyone can get in the ring.”
Diamond is accepting anyone who wants to learn to box or just defend themselves. His prices are reasonable – $60 per month ($2 a day) – which includes the weight room, all of the boxing equipment and the professional training he provides. Bobby Looney of Delbarton is assisting Diamond with some of the training.
Diamond said he would like some of the local businesses or attorneys to help sponsor some kids who can’t afford the monthly fee. “Some of these kids want to train, but they need sponsors,” he added. “A lot of these kids don’t have the money, I won’t turn any kid away that wants to learn and train, but we have to pay the bills.”
“If they want to box, we’ll set it up,” Diamond said. He can be contacted at 304-601-1779.
The gym is open all day and he will work around schedules and has many fighters who work-out in the evenings.
Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.