D.C. Teen Heads to Junior Olympics

by: Lauren Poteat Special to the AFRO
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15-year-old Lamar Odoms is preparing to box at the National Junior Olympics in June. (Courtesy photo)

One D.C. charter high school student can attest that fighting enabled him to achieve his dreams.

Lamar Odoms, a freshman at National Preparatory Collegiate High School in Southeast D.C., is in the final stages of preparing for his first trip to Dallas, Texas, to box at the National Junior Olympics.

“As a coach and a fighter, you have to believe that you’ve already won, because if not the fight is already lost,” Walter Manigan, Odoms boxing coach, told the {AFRO}. “Lamar is equipped to win and I strongly believe he’s going to and so does he.”

After claiming gold during boxing regionals held at Woodland Boxing Gym on June 11, Odoms, 15, will fly on June 25, to prepare for the, National Olympic Tournaments (June 26-27) for another chance at a gold medal.

Odoms, the product of a single parent household, began boxing at 12-years-old after his father, who worked two jobs, decided to place Lamar and his twin brother Lamont, in additional afterschool activities after the baseball season.

“I placed my sons in a lifestyles program where they practiced boxing every day,” Lawrence Ridley, Odoms father, said. “[Charles] Hart Middle school was a rough place for my boys and I just wanted them to be good men. That’s why I didn’t give them a chance to be in the streets and strictly had them in school and in the gym.” The school located in Ward 8.

Odoms has won 14 matches and lost only 5, with the help of his current coach, Walter Manigan, who was an amateur boxer and has trained young athletes for 20 years.

“When Lamar first came to me, he didn’t have that drive he needed to win and was behind everyone else in the team, but it was like those gloves did something to him, because now he’s leading the pack and his attitude has improved tremendously,” Manigan said.

Even though Odoms  is only a freshman at National Prep, he is already making plans to go to college.

“On the first day of practice I knew I loved boxing and it made me feel good,” Odoms said. “When I first started I had a really bad attitude problem, but after I started boxing I humbled myself and learned to just be me. I want to be a professional boxer but nothing is guaranteed, so it’s still important to go to school.” He said he is thinking about attending Marshall University in West Virginia, where his older sister currently attends, to study engineering.

“When the lottery came out for high schools, I was so glad we received ‘National Prep,’ because of their emphasis on raising strong men,” Ridley said. “I want both my sons to be successful in life, so I let them know that I am their parent, not their friend and that I’m not settling for bad grades or bad behavior or disrespect. They’re real little boys and Lamar wants to be a professional boxer but I tell him school is first, and even if he doesn’t go pro, that I still love him and that I just want good men.”

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