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Belmont teen has what it takes to fight like a man



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Belmont High School student Oshee Baugus works out on the speed bag at David Gates Gym in Belmont. Baugus recently competed for the Heavy Weight title for N.H., Vermont and Maine where he put in an impressive performance against a much more experienced boxer. Donna Rhodes. (click for larger version)
February 17, 2010
BELMONT — Belmont 16-year-old Osheé Baugus is not afraid to follow in his family's footsteps, even when those steps lead right into a boxing ring and bring him face to face with some pretty tough characters.

Baugus, a junior at Belmont High School, spends his time working out at David Gates Boxing Club, running a couple of miles every day and eating a healthy diet to stay prepared for heavyweight competition in Golden Gloves amateur boxing.

While Baugus trains at the gym on Laconia Road in Belmont, he has the added advantage of training and getting advice from his mom Leah Link, 2002 National Tough Woman champion. He grew up traveling around the country watching her compete, but now she's the one following her son's matches around New England.

"I'm so proud of him. I know what it's like and I'm just amazed at what he does," said Link.

Davis Gates, owner of the gym and himself a seasoned veteran of the sport, is very proud of the young man, too. He said Baugus has all the makings of a good boxer.

"He's mild mannered but has some grit under his skin. I didn't realize at first that he had that much grit," Gates said.

The quiet teen is much more than just a tough guy in the ring. His academics prove he's tough in the classroom as well, earning mostly all As in school. When he's not in the gym or out running, his mother said his nose is always in a book, studying as he prepares for college in the next couple of years.

"Ever since he was in eighth grade he's told me he wants to be a dentist. I didn't think he'd ever do boxing," Link said.

Baugus began boxing a year and a half ago when his parents decided to send his adopted brother to the gym, hoping it would help him work off some aggression. They sent Baugus along with him and, much to their surprise, his brother dropped out and Baugus stuck with it.

"It's just a great sport. Dave has worked with me and rewarded me along the way. A lot of kids don't want to put all the work it takes into boxing. He appreciates it that I'm so dedicated," Baugus said.

He says he is passionate about boxing. Staying in shape and the training regime is tough but he is willing to do what it takes. He has a key to the gym and spends a lot of time there with his mother, Gates and his trainer, Jose Medina. Many kids come to Gates' gym to try out boxing but not many stay. Gates said once they see how hard it is to train and get into the ring they decide it's not for them.

"If it's in their blood, they'll stick around. Not a lot of them do. It's not easy," Gates said.

Last Saturday night Baugus stepped into the ring in Burlington, Vt., to compete for the amateur heavy weight title in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. His opponent was 29-year-old Chris Nickerson from Searsport, Maine. Gates said it was a really close fight and he heard a lot of people talking about Baugus afterward.

"It was only his fourth match. He did a really good job against an older, more experienced fighter. There was a lot of praise out there for him. He's going to do very well in the future," Gates said the next day.

Baugus felt like he could have won the fight but agreed that the older boxer, who was fighting his 10th match, was a bit smarter, too. Nickerson found a weak spot and took advantage of it in the ring.

"My head gear was loose during the fight. He saw that and exploited that weakness and won. To tell you tell you the truth I probably would have done the same," Baugus said.

He held his own though, and his mother was very proud. Having spent 12 years in a ring herself, she knew exactly what he was facing, and that made it tougher for her to sit and watch.

"It made me sick to my stomach to see my son up there against this more experienced guy. To me he's still a kid. But he wasn't nervous at all. He did a great job," she said.

Gates calls Baugus a "gentle giant" and said it isn't often you see brains and boxing talent all in one person. When the two travel to Boston or other gyms Baugus spends the entire trip studying. His soft spoken manners and the intelligent questions he asks make him a pleasure to work with, Gates said.

Baugus enjoys everything about boxing. A good workout makes him feel great and he has even decided to stick with a strict diet his mother gave him. He isn't sure that he'll go on to box professionally after high school though. As part American Indian, he has the opportunity to go to Dartmouth and make that dream of becoming a dentist a reality, and that remains his ambition.

"I'm really not sure if I'll go to Dartmouth yet. There are some other schools I might consider, but Dartmouth's a good option," he said.

In the meantime he continues to train for more fights, like an upcoming show in May at the Laconia Ice Rink. He plans on sticking with the sport for now and see where it will take him. If David Gates is right, those family footsteps Baugus is following might just take this young man a long way.

"He's going to excel, not just in boxing but in life, too," he said.

PeterCavanagh
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