“My punches are potent like concrete slabs and there’s nothing more awesome than my hooks and my jabs,” yells Nathaniel “Sweet Red” Fitch, head boxing coach of Fitch Boxing team as he stand in the center of the ring.
With more than 30 years inside the ring as a boxer and a North Carolina Boxing Hall Fame inductee, Fitch has been mentoring and training young boxers since 1999.
Fitch credits his brothers for his initial interest and love of boxing.
“Years ago I was at a Boys Club and some guys took my bike and my brothers went to retrieve it and I’ll just say I was impressed with the way they did it,” said Finch. “From that point forward I knew I wanted to learn to box.”
And he did. In 1977, Fitch enlisted in the U.S. Army where he began his career as an amateur boxer. He transferred to Fort Bragg, in 1983. Fitch went on to win the 1983 All-Army Championship, the 1983 Interservice Championship, the 1984 Olympic Sports Festival Championship, the 1985 National Amateur Boxing Federation Championship, the 1987 National Golden Gloves Championship and the 1987 Eastern Olympic Trials.
He finished his amateur career with a record of 187 wins, 16 losses and 1 draw. Upon leaving the Army in 1988, Fitch compiled a 17-6 record in the professional ranks.
On Saturday, Fitch added one more feather to his cap. Fitch Boxing team hosted Cumberland County’s 1st Mayors Cup, a community-boxing tournament that saw 14 amateur bouts paired off by weight class at Spring Lake Middle School.
Most of Fitch’s team participants for the Mayor’s Cup competition were Fort Bragg Family members and active-duty servicemembers.
“Boxing gives you a push that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Spc. William Simmons, a dental specialist.
Simmons said he has always had a deep love for the sport of boxing that he shared with his father. Being a part of Team Fitch gives him aspirations of one day joining the professional ranks he said.
“I love refining my skills in practice with Coach Fitch,” said Simmons. “I know I can’t be a perfect boxer, but here I can be pretty good.”
Simmons won his match Saturday, pushing Team Fitch participants record to 2-2 and his own amateur career record to 3-1.
Fitch coaches each team member as if he was a personal relative, not because he is personally related to each boxer he trains, but because Fitch wants to believe in every kid who steps into his ring to train.
“Coach Fitch and me mesh together,” said Simmons. “I know anything that Coach Fitch tells me to do he is trying to gather the best out of me.”