So Cold, Bud, BoMac…and a whole lotta love

Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Steven "So Cold" Nelson. Photo credit: Omaha World-Herald/www.omaha.com

Undefeated light heavyweight prospect Steven “So Cold” Nelson. Photo credit: Omaha World-Herald/www.omaha.com

 

The best of the bunch is busy making his mark as the finest boxer in the business.

 

Another, a power-punching light heavyweight prospect, is busy completing his university studies while inching his way toward an eventual world title shot.

 

The man behind them is quickly establishing a strong stable of contenders and prospects, while driving the career of the fighter many consider the best in the game.

 

However the real championship qualities these men display might be well outside the squared circle.

 

When Nebraska-based trainer/manager Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, unbeaten three-division world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and undefeated light heavyweight prospect Steven “So Cold” Nelson saunter into a room, at first glance, they look like a crew you’d best not cross.

 

Trainer Brian McIntyre (left) and undefeated three-division champion Terence Crawford

Trainer Brian McIntyre (left) and undefeated three-division champion Terence Crawford

 

These are some tough guys – born and bred on the rough streets of Omaha, Nebraska. Get to know them a little, however, and you will soon realize that you won’t find a friendlier group.

 

That said, at first glance, it isn’t shocking to learn they are in the hurt business. And if you ask any of the inner-city kids about their hometown, they’d tell you looks can be deceiving.

 

When those kids see these iron-tough fighters, they see shining examples of hope, dreams and a whole lot of love. And that is something every young kid needs, at certain times in their formative years.

 

As Omaha’s boxing best, these are guys who have achieved levels of success on the big stages of high-profile prizefighting. McIntyre has a burgeoning stable that boasts Nelson, undefeated junior welterweight banger Kevin Ventura, undefeated bantamweight Abel Soriano and many other hot prospects in the game.

 

Let’s not forget Crawford, who sits at a perfect 33-0 (24), with many fans simply referring to him as boxing’s pound-for-pound best.

 

Former two-division champion, Omaha, Nebraska’s own Terence Crawford. Photo credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank

 

However after the bright lights of the squared circle have dimmed, and they return home to Omaha, they seem more interested in working with the impressionable youth in their community, passing along guidance in and out of the ring, and helping these young boys and girls harness every bit of potential they have, powerful lessons in building confidence and maintaining humility.

 

These are fight guys who are very committed to giving back to the youth of their community because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in the same spots as many of the kids they mentor.

 

It isn’t lost on coaches like McIntyre, a decorated world champion like Crawford or a nascent talent like Nelson that the impact they can have on the young people who look up to them is immeasurable. Clearly by the outpouring of support they give to the youth in their community, it is something to which they are wholly committed.

 

In a short span, Terence Crawford supported a beautiful new upgrade to the B & B Boxing Academy that serves both professionals and amateur fighters in Omaha. And he is currently in the midst of building a wrestling gym for aspiring grapplers to ply their trade as well.

 

Steven Nelson, 11-0 (9), recently held his first annual “So Cold Community Day,” promoting fitness and education in the community. Nelson, along with other fighters and volunteers, led the children through a day of exercise, boxing training and lessons on how to prepare nutritious lunches, as well as some time doing arts and crafts (making, of course, their own customized world title belts).

 

To top it all off, Crawford recently saw his childhood street, Larimore Avenue, dubbed with an honorary second name: Terence “Bud” Crawford Street.

 

Scooping up world titles and being considered as perhaps the best fighter in boxing is one thing but getting your name immortalized on the very street where you grew up, now that is REALLY something.

 

 

UCNLive.com caught up with Nelson to get his thoughts on the role he and his fellow fighters play in their community and the mentoring roles they take very seriously.

 

Bill Tibbs: Bud Crawford recently had the street he grew up on renamed after him. That must have been a thrill for him and your whole team.

 

Steve Nelson: Yes, Bud getting the street named after him was great. It’s crazy the love they show us here in Omaha. Really there aren’t pro sports teams to cheer for here. It’s just the Cornhuskers; they are the big thing but now people are starting to speak about how successful we are as fighters, from all the success Bud has had. It’s great, the love and support we get here, and it’s great for the kids to see how the community gets behind people who work hard and have some success in whatever they are doing. Omaha is really getting to be known as a city that produces some good fighters now. I think the fighters here have that extra drive and grit because we are determined to show that, even though we are from Omaha – which isn’t thought of as a place that produces fighters, like L.A. or New York or Texas or something – that we wanna show there are some great boxers coming out of this city.

 

BT: A couple of years back, Crawford got behind re-doing a gym, the B & B Boxing Academy. Was that something that was important for him to do to support boxing in the city because you guys mostly hold camps out of town?

 

SN: Yes, Terence wanted to get a boxing gym set up for us to use, and also for the kids to train at. It’s a great facility that kids can train right alongside the pros. He is now, right now actually, turning another area of the gym into a training facility for wrestling. It’s great for the kids to have these places to work out, train, learn about fitness and train right alongside the fighters that they look up to. Great places for them to go and be in a positive atmosphere when they aren’t in school.

 

The B & B Boxing Academy, in Omaha, Nebraska

The B & B Boxing Academy, in Omaha, Nebraska

 

BT: Can you tell me about your “So Cold Community Day” you recently held? You are a busy guy with your own career, and taking university classes. However you also seem very committed to supporting youth in the community. You, Bud and BoMac seem to make that a priority.

 

SN: I have always had a passion for working with kids. I have a grandma that everyone in North Omaha knows, has been at her daycare. Parents know her, everyone. I have always been around kids through my grandma, and I have always enjoyed giving back to kids and I have passion for working with kids. If we have something we can pass on down the line, then they can pass it along, and it can effect generations. We might not be able to reach every kid but if we reach one, they might reach two, and then the next one might reach four and that is how this can work. There has traditionally been a lot of poverty, and some tough situations for people in North Omaha, so when they hear some advice from an adult or someone in charge, kids think, “Well, they have to say that’ but when they hear it from a guy like Bud or myself, from the gym, someone they think is young enough to understand them, and get where they are coming from in life at their age, maybe they think it’s cool we’re boxers or whatever, then they will listen more to us, so we can have a positive impact on those young kids. With what we can try to do with the kids in Omaha, we can try to create better opportunities for the people coming up next.

 

BT: Clearly your team’s profile is changing, or has changed, from local guys who’ve done well in boxing to being high-profile, professional athletes and role models in the community. Did you and your stablemates always want to pursue that opportunity or did it just emerge with the success? Mentoring often comes with success in any field, or perhaps it is expected, but not everyone is comfortable with it or wants the responsibility.

 

SN: Like I said, I have always had a passion for helping kids, and helping youth in any way that I can. Bud also loves working with the kids, and is a great example of what kind of success you can have if you are willing to work and not give up. He is a great role model to the kids in Omaha. He can show kids that if you have a vision and stick to it, and are willing to train hard and work hard, then great things can happen. BoMac has also been a great support for the kids in schools, in sports, working with the amateurs. He can show these kids that, with hard work and a vision, you can make dreams come true. If we can achieve things, so can they. It is all about sticking to it, not giving up, having a vision and working hard. Bud and I used to talk about being pros one day, and what we wanted to do and helping young kids and trying to be role models was always something we wanted to do. It’s crazy sometimes seeing life playing out exactly the way you hoped it would but it is a great example of what hard work and not giving up on your vision can do. Kids see this and they believe it can happen with hard work. They see it in Bud and myself and others, so they know it can happen for them one day.

 

 

BT: You guys put in long camps. You all have a lot going on outside of boxing, and yet, in the time you do have off you, and your team seem very committed to the youth in Omaha, not just with boxing but promoting health, fitness and education. You guys seemed pretty relaxed about any attention you may get for this but you need to know the importance of role models like yourselves to youth in an inner-city community. You guys should really be commended for that. Don’t ever underestimate the impact you, and the others, have on the youth who look up to you. You guys are really doing some great things for Omaha, and, most importantly, for Omaha’s youth.

 

SN: Well, we all know how important it is for kids to have people they can relate to, and look up to. It’s all about planting a seed and leaving them with something they can grow from. We show them everyday that if you are willing to work hard, then good things can happen. They might hear that all the time but a guy like Bud Crawford is a living example right in front of them. The kids think, “Hey, if Bud and Steven can do it, then I can do it.”

 

BT: While I’ve got you here, can you give me a quick update on what’s next for you guys? Do you have a timeline at all for where you want to be in the next year?

 

SN: Well, they are talking about Bud returning in October. I’d fight on that card, and then BoMac is talking about me fighting right after, in a headline bout around here. So we got some things happening in the fall. It’s not really about a timeline. It’s just all about working hard, having the vision of where you want to get to, not giving up and putting in the work. If you stick to that, the good things will happen.

 

BT: Thanks for your time, always good to chat. And again, kudos to all you guys for the great work you are doing with the young kids in Omaha.

 

SN: No problem, Bill. Thanks.

 

This is a group of athletes who are making efforts to be champions in and out of the ring. One day these guys won’t be fighting anymore. They are in a rough business with a limited shelf life. However to the young boys and girls of Omaha, Nebraska, who themselves might dream of one day being great, they need to see living, breathing examples of what hard work and dreams can do.

 

And they’ve got them.

 

As Crawford said in a recent interview, upon reflecting on the unveiling of that new street that bears his name, “Where I come from, things like this just don’t happen. It’s a blessing to have a street named after myself. I’m just honored that it’s the same block I grew up on as a child. To all the children out there with big dreams, never give up. If I can make it, YOU can make it.”

 

You are correct, Terence – things like that do not JUST happen; you went out and made them happen.

 

The importance of inner-city youth having role models they can relate to, look up to and emulate cannot be overstated.

 

For young, impressionable kids looking for a hero, someone to model what can happen when hard work meets up with a great role model, what can happen to those who work hard and believe in themselves, they need look no further than some of the young men mentoring them in their hometown at the B & B Boxing Academy.

 

To these young kids, Terence Crawford, Steven Nelson and Brian McIntyre are champions now and forever, in and out of the ring.

 

 

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.

 

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