Local boxing gym helps 'angry boy' turn his life around

SEATTLE -- Boxing is a grueling sport that punishes its participants and challenges their will to continue.

In one Seattle gym, boxing is a way of life and a way to change lives. The young men at the Bumble Bee Boxing gym are learning to fight with their gloves on.

"Boxing is an art to us," said former boxer and current teacher Willie Briscoeray. "It's not a matter of going in thinking you're tough and going out and picking fights, we don't allow that."

Briscoeray, who goes by the nickname Bumblebee, teaches his students how to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. He takes pride in changing lives through a sport where only the tough survive.

"I love being able to do things for kids," he said. "My way of giving back is through boxing."

Antonio Orso Highstreet, now 12-years old, first came to the Bumble Bee Gym three years ago.

"I used to get picked on in school, get beat up and I had bad grades, had E's on my report card," Highstreet said. "Dad said I'm too hyper in class and he took me here, that's when I decided to get my grades up got A's B's and C's."

Highstreet connected with the sport of boxing. It allowed him to funnel his rage through his fists.

"It helped me behave in class, calmed me down, keeps me out of trouble," he said.

Boxing helped keep him in line, but there was more in store for the angry boy. Briscoeray's son, also a teacher, first noticed Highstreet's potential as a fighter.

"My son says,'I have this guy, he's like a baby Mike Tyson.' I say, 'You kidding?' He don't say much but he talks with his hands," Briscoeray said.

Under the watchful eyes of a caring coach, a boxer blossomed.

"He's like my grandpa, keeps me out of trouble like my grandpa," Highstreet said of Briscoeray.

Boxing changed Highstreet's life. It wasn't long before he was competing in tournaments and winning, savoring every left hook and jab to the face along the way. Briscoeray said the 12-year-old's first five fights were stopped due to the punishment he was doling out to his opponents.

"I started beating up kids. I guess I enjoyed it and wanted to do it some more," Highstreet said.

He's now 13-0 and headed to Las Vegas this week to compete in the National Junior Gold Gloves Boxing Competition, where he's fight in the 13-14 year-old flyweight division.

"I'm hoping to win every fight," he said.

Briscoeray has high hopes for the boy and thinks his skill can take him a long way.

"He has a desire to win," Briscoeray said. "He boxes adults in the gym and they say, 'Man, he hits it hard."

This week's competition is only round one, and Highstreet has even bigger goals. He says he wants to make the Olympics and one day become the top fighter in the world.

Briscoeray is just happy he can play a role in making those dreams come true.

"I had a trainer once, and I asked what I could ever do for him. He said, 'You do for me what I did for you -- show some young kid the way,'" Briscoeray said.

Highstreet's competition begins on Wednesday, and he'll find out who he's fighting in the first round on Tuesday night.