AS a 12-year-old, Columbus’ Alex Stillabower paid a price to lose weight.
“I was short and fat and I needed to get in shape,” said the 20-year-old Stillabower, who remembered back to the days that he chose boxing as an activity that would help him shed pounds.
His choice turned out to be more painful than a diet.
“Everybody loved beating up on him at first, but he never quit,” said Ron Thompson, the trainer who has worked with Stillabower since he walked in the door at the Police Athletic League gym in Columbus.
After winning the Indiana Golden Gloves heavyweight title April 25, Stillabower now is the guy dishing out the beatings. A former Silver Gloves national champion at 15, he might even try the pro ranks.
“It’s all because of his attitude,” Thompson said. “He is a young man who I don’t have to tell him what to do constantly. During the day he does his training … he has that type of attitude.”
Stillabower said that his Golden Gloves state title has him thinking about turning pro.
“It’s a step up to the next level,” he said after winning his state championship.
That victory qualified him for the National Golden Gloves of America tournament in Salt Lake City in May, but he dropped his first-round match.
Even so, Thompson said his style might work in the pros.
“He is an aggressive fighter who comes to his opponent,” said Thompson, who has coached boxers in Columbus for more than 30 years. “He works the whole body.”
Stillabower’s professional aspirations took a detour for a while at Columbus East High School when he abruptly quit the sport, choosing football, girls and a new car over boxing. He came back, though, after graduating in 2011.
“I missed it too much,” he said.
To go along with his Golden Gloves title, Stillabower has won nine different titles, including Indiana Junior Olympic and Silver Gloves titles.
He maintains a hectic lifestyle. In addition to his training regimen, which includes trips to Indianapolis to find competition, he works two jobs, at Pizza Hut and Menard’s.
When asked about the trainer-fighter relationship, Stillabower turned to Thompson and chuckled, saying “He’s a bully.”
“Yeah,” Thompson said, “but he keeps coming back.”
Stillabower has the license needed to become a professional. All that is left to do is to declare himself a pro before a fight and then enter the ring.
“I think he’ll be good at it,” Thompson said. “He owes it to himself to see how far he can go. I think he’ll make a good pro boxer.”
Stillabower’s weight entering matches is 230 pounds, but his trainer wants him to be closer to 220.
Eight years later, he still is losing weight.