September 8, 2013

Berry eyes third professional victory, guided by lobsterman

With a long history in the boxing world, Wyman looks to guide Berry to victory over Jesus Cintron

By Michael G. Seamans
Staff Photographer

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click image to enlarge

Skeet Wyman works the pads with Brandon Berry, who travels three days a week about 225 miles round trip to train at Wyman's Boxing Club in Stockton Springs.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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Thursday, Sept. 12

Verizon Wireless Center, Manchester, N.H.

Silent auction starts at 5:30 p.m.; boxing begins at 8 p.m. Event raises money for at-risk and disadvantaged children

Six-fight card: three amateur, three professional

The event is headlined by two welterweight matches:

Danny "Bhoy" O'Connor, of Framingham, Mass., will fight Raul Tover, Jr., of McAllen, Texas

Chris Gilbert, of Windsor, Vt., will fight Anthony Chase, of Providence, R.I.

Brandon Berry, of West Forks, will fight Jesus Cintron, of Springfield, Mass.

In 2006, less than four years after watching the De La Hoya-Vargas fight, Travis Wyman, 17,  won a Golden Gloves title in Vermont. It was not only a proud moment as a father for Wyman, and a chance to be back among the boxing community, it was also a new opportunity.

Over the years, Wyman’s stature in the boxing community has grown.

“There’s a lot of really bad people in this sport and Skeet is one of the best I’ve ever come across,” said Ed Farris, the owner and trainer at Claremont Boxing Club in Claremont, N.H.  Among Farris’ boxer is Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, who respresented the United States in the 2008 Olympics. “He gives this sport hope.

“What Skeet does in rural Maine is amazing. He has a population of about 3,000 people to train. Compare that to the places his fighters fight in like Boston and New York City who have millions of possible contenders. If Skeet trained in Boston or New York City he would be in the Hall of Fame.”

It was at that Vermont tournament that Berry introduced himself to Wyman.

Wyman knew Berry’s family, but not from boxing. Tagging along with his father as a boy, Wyman would travel to West Forks to go fly-fishing. Berry’s General Store was the place in northern Somerset County to pick up essentials for a weekend trip.

“I’ll never forget it,” Wyman said. “Cliff (Berry’s grandfather) would always give us a chocolate bar and a piece of sharp cheese each time we went up there fishing.”

Things have a way of coming full circle. Berry hopes to eventually win enough money as a boxer to save the store, which has taken a hit from the tough economy of the past six or seven years.

The boxing club

The outside of Wyman’s Boxing Club, on a dead-end street, looks more like the commercial fisherman’s warehouse that it is than a training ground for boxers.

Lobster traps and boats surround the building. If not for the small Wyman’s Boxing Club sign above the door, there would be no indication that the lobsterman who owns the building teaches and tests fighters there.

Inside are more lobster traps, bait nets and the distinct smell of dead fish. On the second floor, the overpowering smell is not fish, but sweat. The echo of feet dancing on a plywood floor is interrupted by a buzzer and Wyman’s bark.

“I never guessed when we started this gym we would have made it this far,” Wyman said.

Some 120 boxers have trained at Wyman’s Boxing Club. Sixteen of them, including Travis, have won titles in regional Golden Gloves tournaments, fighting against many of the New England’s top amateurs.

Training boxers is a hobby and a family affair for Wyman. Travis got the ball rolling and Skeet’s wife, Keirsten, helps with the planning. A night at the fights is a family trip.

A commercial lobsterman by trade, Wyman’s training time is all volunteer. None of the boxers at his club pays for training, including Berry.

Berry developed his love for boxing watching his older brother Gordon, who trained at Gamache Boxing Club in Lewiston. Wanting to be like his brother, Berry started training, too.

In 2008, Berry committed to train with Wyman at the Stockton Springs gym. Berry proved himself on the amateur circuit over the next six years before turning pro last winter.

It’s a 252-mile round-trip from Berry’s home in West Forks to the boxing club in Stockton Springs, a northern Waldo county town near where the Penobscot River empties into the Atlantic. Berry makes the five-hour trip about three days a week.

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