Pugilistic Patterson Will Pull No Punches

When watching Levi Patterson strike a punching bag with lightning-quick hands, you feel sorry for the bag, wondering what it did to deserve this abuse.

“My hands are as fast as Floyd’s,” Patterson jokes, referring to Floyd Mayweather, arguably the best professional boxer in the world.

Patterson, a senior, is such a good boxer that his coach, Romeo Conner, brings in the best young professional boxers in Cleveland to spar with him.

“That’s when I first started realizing this sport is for me, when I started whooping on pros,” Patterson said. 

Patterson whooped on the competition and won the 2011 Cleveland Golden Gloves tournament, which sent him to the national Golden Gloves. His record is 34-6; his ultimate goal is to box for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

 Patterson’s father introduced him to boxing his freshman year. “One day my dad brought me into the gym. I always used to get into fights, and my dad said, ‘Might as well start boxing to take your anger out in a positive way.’”

 Patterson practices for two hours five or six times weekly at the Zelma Watson George Recreation Center in Cleveland.

 “When I first started boxing in the ninth grade, I didn’t really tell a lot of people because I thought they were gonna look at me differently,” he said. “Now it’s different; I’ll be walking down the street and people say, ‘Hey, aren’t you that guy, Levi Patterson?’ ”

 Patterson said that being in the ring and facing punches was stressful and disconcerting at first, but he adjusted. “He adapted real quick,” Conner said.

 Patterson won the 2011 Cleveland Golden Gloves at 152 lbs. after knocking out his opponent in the second round of the championship match.

 “I dropped a guy . . . and he got up wobbly,” he said. “When I came out of the ring, I got embraced by everybody. It felt great.”

 But, of course, you can’t win all the time. Patterson lost in the national tournament after the Cleveland Golden Gloves. “When I know I didn’t give it my all, I just cry. I think about what people think about me,” he said.

 He said he never feels sorry for those he hurts because they wouldn’t sympathize with him if they KO’d him. “When I started boxing, my coach told me, ‘Show no remorse. Don’t feel sorry for anybody,’” Patterson said.

 Conner found young professionals to spar with Patterson to give him more exposure and experience. Patterson held his own, or better.

 “I compete with the top of the line, the best,” Patterson said.

 “He doesn’t completely dominate them, they don’t completely dominate him,” Conner said. “If he was getting beat up and busted up, I wouldn’t put him in there. . . Levi has sparred with a lot of the top boxers in Cleveland at an early age,” Conner said, rattling off a list of names.

 “He can go a long way, a looong way,” Conner said. “He’s got world class potential. He’s not the average guy that walks in the gym. . . In the boxing community, everybody knows Levi.”

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