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BOXING : He Owes Bright Future in the Ring to a Bully

July 18, 1993|CHARLES SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

July 4, 1991, was a day of celebration for most people, but not Anthony McDonald.

While trying to defend his little cousin, McDonald, then 12, was roughed up by a neighborhood bully on his South-Central block.

"Anthony came in the house and told me and his father that he had gotten into a fight with some older kid," McDonald's mother, Lenora, said. "At that point, I decided that Anthony needed to learn how to protect himself."

That resulted in an excursion to the Hoover Street Gym in Los Angeles. McDonald has not had any problems with temperamental neighbors since.

"He gets a lot of respect from the neighborhood boys without even using his hands," Lenora said.

Respect isn't the only thing McDonald has been winning.

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In June, the 14 year-old McDonald won the Junior Olympic Tournament at Obregon Park in East Los Angeles. He took first place in the 119-pound division and was named the outstanding boxer in the senior division (14- and 15-year-olds).

"We have big expectations for Anthony," said George Holt, McDonald's trainer for two years. "He has come a long way and can deal with anyone (in his division)."

McDonald, who attends Horace Mann Middle School, lives with his mother, stepfather, a younger sister and a younger brother. His mother said she maintains a strict routine for him.

"Anthony's regimen is school, workout, work and then homework," she said. "Working out is Anthony's extracurricular activity."

McDonald is well aware of the people in his corner.

"My mom and my trainer guide me and watch over me," McDonald said. "My God is my strength as a fighter."

McDonald's hand speed and foot coordination are his main assets in the ring, but Holt said "endurance is a weakness that we need to address.

"However, living in the neighborhood that Anthony does, we have to watch where he runs," the trainer said.

Holt added that he makes sure McDonald is trained in more than just boxing.

"I teach Anthony about life because boxing is just a vehicle to take him through life," Holt said. "I teach him poetry, vocabulary and etiquette. I want Anthony to be a well-rounded person as well as a well-rounded boxer."

Says his mother: "I love him boxing if that is what he wants to do. I'd rather for him to be here than on the street. We brought him (to the Hoover Street Gym) so he could learn how to protect himself but he is also learning how to be a man."

With such positive guidance, McDonald seems to have a bright future. And he knows it.

"I like boxing because it's exciting, challenging and can secure my future (financially)," McDonald said. "I think boxing will bring me a lightweight championship."

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