TACOMA — The walls inside Al Davies branch of the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound are decorated with colorful canvases.
Nine-year-old Isaac Coleman, who will enter fourth grade this year at Burley-Glenwood Elementary School, is focused on one to his right.
The oversized picture features Leo Randolph, who also was a product of the Tacoma Boys and Girls Club’s amateur boxing program. Randolph won the Flyweight Gold medal at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Randolph and others who have trained at the club, such as “Sugar” Ray Seales, who won a gold medal in 1972, serve as an inspiration for Coleman.
“I wanted to learn how to defend myself,” said the 90-pound Coleman, who has a 9-5 record. “My dream is to go to the Olympics.”
Coleman and Matt Mollet, who trains at Cal’s Olympic Boxing in Port Orchard, earned spots during an open tournament to the National Junior Golden Gloves, which began Wednesday and runs through Saturday, at Casablanca Events Center in Mesquite, Nev. Mollet, 16, will be a junior at South Kitsap High School and has a 3-4 record in the heavyweight classification.
Unlike Coleman, Mollet only began boxing about 18 months ago.
“I was just looking for something to do and I found the gym,” he said. “It was just kind of luck.”
Mollet, who is 6 feet 3 inches and wants to improve upon his speed and defense, felt the competition, which is supposed to feature boxers from every state, provides an opportunity to face talented opponents.
“I just thought it would be a good experience and good tournament for me,” he said. “It was a way for me to get more fights.”
Unlike Coleman, Mollet does not have grandiose expectations in the sport.
“Everybody wants to make a career out of it,” he said. “Right now it’s just a hobby.”
That does not mean he does not take the sport seriously, though. Both Coleman and Mollet train four to five days per week. For Coleman, each session runs 3 1/2 hours. In addition to working on technique — Coleman says he possesses a powerful right-handed jab, but can enhance his combination punches — he runs 20 miles per week.
Both said they were working even harder before heading to Nevada. Mollet joined Coleman at Al Davies for additional work.
Coleman also was excited about the prospect of meeting some elite boxers — Floyd Mayweather Jr. is expected there — but both also hope to sightsee in the area, which is a little more than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas, along the Arizona border.
“I want to go have fun with the family,” Coleman said.