With a champion boxer father, going to the gym every day was life as a kid for Johnny Spell III and his nine siblings; but he was the only one to follow his father’s footsteps into the boxing ring to compete.
“It’s made us closer,” said the 21-year-old boxer named after his father and coach, Johnny Sr. The elder competed in amateur and pro tournaments into his 40’s, while training his son since the boy was five years old.
“I miss fighting. I want to do it one more time,” said Johnny Sr. One of his dreams is to see his and his son’s name on the same fight card at a tournament. Now 56, Johnny Sr. runs North Side Fitness Gym, and Train To Go Cleaning Service with Johnny III.
“My blood pressure went sky high when he first started,” said Johnny Sr. about his son who first fought at age 14, “But he always stood up to the test.”
On April 1, the two headed to 3 Lakes Golf Course in Penn Hills for Johnny III to fight at the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Championship. Johnny III had won in 2015. He defeated the night’s opponent, Danny Bodish, in a fight last year. The favorite was clear.
The crowd was packed in tight around the ring. Shouts, cheers and coaches’ demands filled the feverish room. Spell and Bodish faced off. Gloves blurred and feet danced around the ropes. At the end the Spells were shocked by the judges’ decision to award Bodish with the win.
Though Johnny III won’t be going to Harrisburg for the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves, he will continue on to compete in the Ringside Tournament and the U.S. Invitationals this year. One thing is for certain: win or lose, Johnny Sr. will be in his corner.