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Boxing returns to Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall on Saturday

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Boxers always have someone in their corner, but Doug Collins will have someone special in his “comfort space.”

Collins will make his amateur boxing debut Saturday in the fourth annual New York State Amateur Boxing Qualifier at 6 p.m at the Watertown Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall.

He will be fighting to honor his friend, Trevor Robinson, who died in an automobile accident last September. George Knapp was charged with criminally negligent homicide Thursday in connection with the crash. Collins said that boxing has been an outlet for him to deal with his grief.

Collins, a senior at South Jefferson High School, said, “Boxing has really helped me get over the loss of him. It has really made me stronger.”

He started training two months after the passing of his friend. Collins is set to face an opponent from Niagara Falls in his first fight, and said that he is ready for a challenge. Collins said he has a simple goal in his fight that consist of three two-minute rounds.

Collins, from Lorraine, said, “I’d like to win, but I won’t be upset if I don’t. I want to go the distance. My opponent may be bigger, stronger and faster than me, but I’ve got more heart from what I’ve been through.”

Collins got into boxing because he always wanted to try it and said that his time in the ring has helped him persevere.

“All of the training through workouts and sparring help you push through everything,” he said. “You realize that you don’t let anything stand in your way.”

Collins also said that he couldn’t have achieved his dream on his own. He thanked his sponsor, the Nu-Pier Restaurant in Sackets Harbor; Robinson’s mother, Jeanette Robinson-Bishop; his coach; and fellow fighters Josh Brown, Jeff Wright, Tyler Gamage and Chris Bearrera.

Collins is not the only fighter with a story this weekend. Virginia-based fighter Ryan Adams will be competing, as well as Brown, of Sandy Creek, who has used boxing to make him a better person.

“Josh ran into a bad spell of luck and ended up on parole,” Watertown Amateur Boxing Club President John Pepe said. “He’s been training really hard, he works two jobs and has a couple of babies. Boxing has turned his life around.”

There also will be a number of Fort Drum soldiers fighting in the event. Even though some of the soldiers may be a part of the club only for a short time before deployment, Pepe said they make up a core part of the fighters and clamor for extra training.

Clubs from statewide, including Albany and Niagara Falls, and Canada, as well as the locally based Black River Boxing Academy, will participate in Saturday’s matches. Pepe said that he was still getting calls about match slots. The winners of the fights will move onto further qualifying matches in Saratoga later in the summer.

Saturday’s event will also include a public introduction of former WABC member and two-time Golden Gloves champion Gordy Griffith, who plans to run the Balmat-based Gouverneur Boxing Club that will open at a later date.

Tickets for the event are $10 general admission or $15 for ringside and are available by calling Pepe at 783-4980 or by visiting Nelson’s Dry Cleaners or Kinney Drugs on Coffeen Street. Tickets will also be available at the door.

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