Tommy Curtis couldn’t tell how many boxing fans were in the Lowell Memorial Auditorium crowd that February night for the New England Golden Gloves. Between the bright lights of the ring and his own nearsightedness, all Curtis could really make out for sure was his opponent. But he could hear the crowd.
“It’s almost an out-of-body experience when you step in the ring,” says Curtis, a Manning School of Business freshman from Methuen. “Then you see your opponent, and it’s like, ‘Wow, am I really here right now?’”
Curtis has been there for the last two years, competing in the 114-pound novice division of the venerable boxing tournament that’s been held in Lowell every year since 1947. Its alumni include Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Micky Ward.
“It’s nice to see the city still has that boxing tradition going,” says Curtis, who has a 2-2 record in the tournament.
Curtis started boxing while a student at Methuen High School after becoming a fan of mixed martial artist Conor McGregor. He started training for his first Golden Gloves at a gym in Haverhill.
“I like that it’s all up to you in the ring,” Curtis says. “You get back what you put into the sport.”
Curtis had to cut back on training last fall when he moved to campus and began life as a college student. He soon joined the university’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club, which practices twice a week at Riverview Suites. He also discovered a punching bag at the Campus Rec Center. When he wanted to get back to Haverhill to spar, Curtis could hitch a ride with Duncan McNeil, a freshman criminal justice major from Groveland who also trains at the gym and has fought in the Golden Gloves.
Curtis, whose concentrations are in entrepreneurship and marketing, chose to study business because of its open-ended possibilities.
“You can build a business around whatever your passions are, so you can be happy no matter what you’re doing,” he says.
Right now, Curtis is happiest when he’s training in the gym.
“I’m always in the best mood after a good workout,” he says. “It relieves a lot of stress and anxiety.”
Curtis plans to continue balancing boxing and business studies for the foreseeable future.
“I want to stay active year-round and get some fights before the Gloves next time,” says Curtis, who looks forward to being under the bright lights once again at Lowell Memorial Auditorium. “It’s a pretty cool feeling – definitely not an everyday thing.”