The same holds true for Thomas Finchum, Kayla Harrison, Travis Stevens, Joseph Diaz, Jr., and David Boudia.
And even though I haven’t met Miles Chamley-Watson in person yet, you can put a check by his name too. Chalk one up for the good guys (and gals).
Even though this is my first blog post about this amazing Olympic experience, the relationships have been building for many months. It was more than evident in Dallas.
Maybe it was because I was sitting inside the boxing ring at Maple Avenue Boxing Gym in Downtown Dallas, but it hit me harder than Spence’s signature south-paw punch, and I couldn’t have been happier.
While more than 450 other media members packed into a room to listen to Michael Phelps or First Lady Michelle Obama over at the Hilton Anatole, Josh Blessing and I were forming a bond with Spence, his coach, Derrick James, and his father, Spence Sr.—a bond that, after four days, will last a lifetime. Sign me up, I am officially a member of Team Spence.
I’ve worked in sports my whole life, and by this time, my instincts never have proven me wrong. I knew going to Dallas this was a chance to do something special. Just do a quick Google search on Errol Spence, Jr., and USA Boxing, and you’ll see what I mean.
His story is amazing. From the tiny, rundown Vivero Boxing Gym in Oak Cliff to becoming a three-time national welterweight champion and Olympic medalist hopeful in London. Oh, and he’s only 22 years old. He’s the son of a Jamaican immigrant. His biggest influence is his mother (mine too).
Josh and I spent the better part of our trip researching, making connections and shooting video for this story. Instinct.
When I picked up Errol from the hotel and we drove together to Maple Avenue for the interview, we connected. Not since working with former Ball State athlete, John Wooden Award winner and dear friend Peyton Stovall have I seen a smile or the charisma Spence has.
I can’t wait to unleash my own creativity and experience with Josh on this story. Spence deserves my best, and he’ll get it. And I’ll be in London—hopefully in the stands as often as I can—to support Spence every step of the way. He deserves that too.
Less than two hours later, it was the inspirational Shanteau who delivered the knock out.
We talked about his journey over the last four years as a cancer survivor, the loss of his father to the same dreaded disease and his mission to spread cancer awareness in young adults.
It too was more than an interview. We spent an hour talking about life and how it changed for him. Little did he know, it was changing for me too. We connected.
I collected more than 75 business cards in Dallas, shared stories and worked with our students in an environment I will never forget. We met with more than 100 athletes and logged more than 600 minutes of interviews. There’s more coming. Heck, we haven’t even made it to London yet.
But it’s more than just the connections and the stories, it’s the people. It’s building relationships. It’s being real, having a passion for what you do and caring for people.
Spence and Shanteau know all about those things.