A s a boxer, East Valley High School freshman T.J. Horgan is a relative novice.
But he also is the national Silver Gloves superheavyweight silver medalist.
In five years of boxing, Horgan has fought just eight bouts. Two of those were in Lennox, Kan., where the 14-year-old defeated the nation’s third-ranked Junior Olympian in the semifinals before losing by split decision in the title bout to an undefeated 6-foot-3, 250 pounder.
“He fought in the open division, that’s how much faith I had in him,” said his coach, Paul Keller. “I thought maybe he won his last fight, but the judges saw it different.”
Part of the reason Horgan has had so few fights since beginning boxing with Lilac City Boxing Club in the fifth grade, is his size: He’s 6 feet tall and weighs 213 pounds.
Horgan boxes in a weight class for fighters who weigh 201 pounds or more. Consequently he has had to travel long distances to fight opponents as much as two years older and 50 pounds heavier.
While honing his skills, he fought boxers from California and Portland. Overall, his record is 4-4.
“It’s hard to get fights, that’s why T.J. has been in and out of it,” said his dad, Tim. “But we wanted to get him to a national tournament because the best superheavyweights are there and it was the first time he fought anyone his own age. He almost won it and basically is a part-time boxer.”
Much of Horgan’s time has been occupied by school sports. He was a standout on EV’s fine freshman football team and will likely start for the Knights varsity next year.
He recently completed the freshman baseball season and will play basketball next year.
That is how his parents want it.
“I want him to have a good time in boxing,” said his dad. “But he has a chance to be varsity in all three sports.”
Horgan’s dad had always liked the sport of boxing and was directed to Lilac City Boxing Club coaches Keller and Dan Vassar.
Keller said he took a 260-pound youngster with a stubborn streak and whittled his weight down to 213 pounds for the national tournament.
“He was a tough kid to handle,” said Keller. “He likes his own way. But one day he can win the nationals. If it were up to me I could train him to get on the U.S. team.”
If Horgan stays with boxing, following graduation he will stay amateur in an attempt to reach the Olympics.
“I love football and baseball,” said young athlete. “But my best sport is probably boxing because I was second in the nation.”