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Bronson Russell latest in line to raise gloves

Ring bearer

Bronson Russell (right) works out with his godfather, Rick Russell, at the Jon Russell Boxing Club in Rock Falls in preparation for his Chicago Golden Gloves championship match today in Cicero.
Bronson Russell (right) works out with his godfather, Rick Russell, at the Jon Russell Boxing Club in Rock Falls in preparation for his Chicago Golden Gloves championship match today in Cicero.

Pop. Woosh. Pop. Duck. Pop. Woosh. 

Around the ring Bronson Russell dances, dodging as his godfather, Rick Russell, swings a padded brown mitt over his head. 

Bronson jabs, popping the mitt. He jabs again – his fist creating a wooshing sound as it cuts through air – for good measure, and then uses his arm and shoulder to hook away from the ropes. 

"Good," Rick says. "Don't get back in the ropes. I want you to end up here."

Rick points to a spot near the middle of the ring at the Jon Russell Boxing Club in Rock Falls.

The middle of the ring is where the Russell family has been for the last 4 decades, whether it was Rick, or his cousins – a trio of brothers named Jon, Sonny, and Tracy (Bronson's father). 

The line doesn't stop there. Bronson's mother (Sabrina) also boxed, as did older brothers Aaron and Ryan and older sisters Jamie and Tracie. Jamie, who just finished her college basketball career at Illinois State University, was good enough that she boxed and often beat boys in her age groups. 

Bronson, 16, is the latest to take his swing. He will box for the Chicago Golden Gloves championship at 132 pounds in the novice division today in Cicero. The novice division is for boxers with fewer than 10 matches. 

"Technically, I'm not old enough to box in the Golden Gloves, but my coach was able to get them to waive the age requirement," Bronson said. "You're supposed to be 17." 

Bronson, who has a career record of 5-3, is a sophomore at Rock Falls High School. While he has played football in the past, he has decided to give up the gridiron to focus on his dream of becoming a professional boxer when he turns 18. 

"I liked football, but this is what I've dreamed of doing my whole life," Bronson said. "I decided I'd focus on training for boxing."

He works with his manager, Al Silva, 5 days a week. On the weekends, he meets Rick for extra work in the ring. 

"There's no such thing as luck in boxing," Rick tells Bronson. "It's all about conditioning." 

Bronson nods his head and starts to work over one of the bags hanging outside of the ring. 

"He has to work the body more," Rick says. "In some of the other matches in this tournament, he'd have won earlier by working the body. The other kids wouldn't have lasted with that." 

Bronson recruited Rick to come down to help him. The prospect of returning to the club appealed to Rick. 

"I hadn't been down here for a few years," Rick said. "Bronson showed up at my door one day and asked for some help. 

"I got back down here, and there were so many kids. Al does a great job, but with that many kids, it's hard to give each one the individual attention. So I come down when I can to help out."

Rick and Bronson know their last name has become synonymous with boxing in the Sauk Valley. Bronson just hopes that he can add another successful chapter. 

"I've been running around down here since I was 2 years old," Bronson said. "I didn't become too serious until I was 12 years old. It's just something that we all do." 

Bronson Russell file

Age: 16

High School: Rock Falls

Parents: Tracy and Sabrina

Brothers: Ryan, 27;  Aaron, 25

Sisters: Jamie, 23; Tracie, 18. 

Up next: Match for Chicago Golden Gloves title at 132 pounds in novice division, today at 7:30 p.m. at Cicero Stadium. 

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