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New boxer Curtis looks for knockout ring success

Former Oceanside three-sport standout prepares to make — and take — best punches
By Mark Haskell | Sep 15, 2020
Courtesy of: Thomas Curtis Thomas Curtis has found a new sports passion — namely, boxing.

South Thomaston — In the most difficult of times, finding a passion to harness one’s energy and put it toward a positive often is a winning combination.

Thomas Curtis of South Thomaston hopes for that — and to put together a few combinations of his own — as the 2016 Oceanside High School graduate and three-sport athlete has added a fourth to his repertoire.

"My transition to boxing actually took me a while,” said the 22-year-old Curtis, who was a member of Oceanside’s football, wrestling and baseball teams during his time with the Mariners. “It was more of a nervousness to be out of my element and thinking I was too old to start a new sport.”

Curtis said he saw a friend of his post on social media that, after months of boxing training, he was scheduled for his first fight after roughly seven months of training.

Once Curtis realized his friend was older than he was, “age was no factor now.”

He was not only suffering from the coronavirus blues — as is most of the country — but news of a close family member being diagnosed with cancer and having four friends pass within three months left Curtis yearning, perhaps more than ever, for a change in direction.

That direction led him to O’Leary’s Boxing/Fitness in Waterville, where he has been training in the ring roughly four days a week since mid-summer.

“I started training in July when the gym reopened after the COVID lockdown,” he said. “My first day I left the gym covered in sweat and my arms shaking saying, ‘This may be harder than wrestling.’ I fell in love with it though. After my first day I couldn’t wait to go back the next morning.”

Curtis changed his diet in an effort to keep his conditioning up and has lost 15 pounds thus far along the way.

Which, turned out to be especially beneficial in the long run for Curtis, who, as a former college football player, herniated two discs in his back while playing for Husson University in Bangor.

Curtis, coming off playing coed and men's softball this summer, saw his neurosurgeon in July and was given an all-around favorable prognosis.

“They said the discs obviously won’t heal themselves, but there’s really no worse damage to be done,” said Curtis. “The joints in my back and my hips are overcompensating and that’s where the issue is. There is no surgery to fix that, but they said losing weight and physical therapy would help it. The doctor told me boxing and swimming could really be beneficial.”

“My body feels great. I really think I found my own personal cure.”

“Thomas is a great kid,” said Justin Rolfe, who won the vacant USA New England Heavyweight Title in an eight-round match against Tracey Johnson on Saturday, Aug. 29 in Derry, N.H. “He started training at O'Leary's Boxing with me and coach Mike Leary a few months ago. He has a lot of potential. He is tough and fast for a big man.”

While Rolfe offered Curtis praise, he added he is “still very green” and “has a lot of potential to be a good amateur super heavyweight and he is moving along faster than normal, but I think he has at least a few more months before we even talk about competing. We need to focus on getting the basics to become a habit and to teach him more about boxing and less about just being tough.”

“He is very, very tough,” said Rolfe. “But in this sport tough guys get hurt [and] we don’t want that. We want him to be a boxer and be tough only when he needs to be.”

Curtis had his first sparring session on Sept. 9 and felt good about how he fared, especially since “It’s been quite a while since I got hit in the face so my body is getting used to that feeling again.”

“He got me with a couple good jabs and some good body shots, but I loved it,” he said. “I got him with a couple really good body shots. After he told me, 'I was breathing so hard between rounds because you were getting me so hard with those body shots.’ That’s one thing I love about this gym. It’s like a family in there. We beat each other up for a few rounds, but it’s about being safe and getting each other better.”

Curtis hopes to participate in the New England Golden Gloves tournament this winter, but “If an amateur bout comes up early and Mike and Justin think I’m ready, I want to fight as much as possible.”

“I trust them and know they won’t throw me out there until I’m 100 percent ready.”

Curtis said, above all, the new people and friendships he has gained through O’Leary’s, which he referred to as the best gym in New England, has been the most significant positive from his newest athletic endeavor.

“My first day in the gym I was chatting with Mike and Justin walked in,” he said. “I knew Justin had the New England Heavyweight Championship fight coming up and there was a banner on the wall with his photo from his promotion from his previous fight. [It] said Justin ‘Crazy Train’ Rolfe. I thought it was the coolest thing. I remember calling my mother on the way home and telling her I was going to be training with a pro and how excited I was to be a part of that gym.”

Curtis has not only coached multiple sports the past few years, including helping with Oceanside High School wrestling, but also a baseball umpire. He also has gone on missions to Cuba to help underprivileged youths and hopes to inspire those he has worked with “and show them that you can do anything you put your mind to.”

“It doesn’t matter your circumstances, it doesn’t matter your size, it doesn’t matter if you came from a single parent home like I did or if you come from a rich family in a mansion,” said Curtis. “If you have the heart and are willing to put the work in, you can do anything you put your mind to."

Thomas Curtis works on the punching bag. (Courtesy of: Thomas Curtis)
Justin Rolfe, left, and Thomas Curtis. (Courtesy of: Thomas Curtis)
Justin Rolfe, right, and Thomas Curtis. (Courtesy of: Thomas Curtis)
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