Retired Spokane heavyweight boxer Chauncy Welliver received a key to the city last Saturday – not just for what he’s done in the ring, but also what he’s been doing outside of it.
Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward presented the key at the conclusion of the Hillyard Hi-Jinx Parade, recognizing his work with the city’s youth, as well as his decorated boxing career.
Welliver, who was never knocked down in 75 pro fights, climbed as high as fifth in the 2012 WBC world rankings. Since retiring with a record of 57-13-5, he owns and operates Hillyard Hammer’s BoxFit.
“Anybody who knows anything about Hillyard knows Chauncy’s legacy there,” Woodward said. “To carry over that work now and to our community, after his boxing career and helping kids is a great thing to do. So I wanted to recognize him for that.”
Welliver said he “absolutely loves” the life that boxing has brought him, adding that it’s allowed him to travel to every state except Alaska, and every continent except Antarctica.
“I did get to go see things (and meet people) that a little fat kid from Hillyard (would) never ever (get) to see in his life,” Welliver said.
Among the highlights were boxing with Mike Tyson, meeting Michael Jordan and rubbing elbows with politicians among the vast number of celebrities he met.
“At the end of the day, it was all because I punched somebody in the face. And if you did the same thing, you go to jail,” he joked.
The Rogers High School dropout got his start from his older brother Dumont Welliver who, according to Welliver, was the best amateur boxer in the world.
“Dewey’s my hero,” he said.
When he saw the success his older brother had in the ring, Welliver decided to follow in his footsteps. That included dropping out of high school.
“It wasn’t like I was dumb or anything like that. I decided to box (and) to be honest, I couldn’t box and stay in school.”
When Welliver talks to the behavior intervention kids at Rogers , he tells them about why he dropped out, but emphasizes his need to be good at boxing made dropping out of school worth it.
“You have to give 150% to anything you do; of that I’m a firm believer,” he said. “I didn’t want to be 50% in school and 50% in boxing because I sucked at both at that point.”
Because of his hard work and determination, the “Hillyard Hammer” worked his way up the boxing rankings of the world. He won many titles, but the one that he puts on display and is proud of most is the World Boxing Council youth title he won in 2005.
“That was a joyous, joyous night. I (won) something that no boxer from Spokane won. I won a legitimate WBC title … that was one of the biggest moments of my life, and it was shortly after my father passed away,” he said. “For me, it almost felt like my dad was there watching me.”
The pride in himself and where he came from traveled with Welliver wherever he went.
“I stood in the ring of Germany, China, Russia, New Zealand; (I have) been (to) many places in the country and I proudly represented Spokane,” he said.
Welliver was competing in boxing long before Spokane was on the map – much less Hillyard.
“What’s a Hillyard?” is a question he would be asked.
For someone exceptionally proud of his hometown, receiving the key to the city was an “absolute honor,” he said.
“(Spokane) showed that they were watching,” he said.
Though Welliver misses being in the ring, he is proud of the students that he trains.
“Now as a coach, everything you do – good or bad – falls back on me,” he said.
“All your wishes and dreams and having your moment of glory, having your hand raised, I helped you do that.”
His wish is for other people to experience their wins.
“You trusted me, the fat guy that could barely walk up the stairs to the ring,” he said. “You trusted what I said, and you won. That’s gonna be a moment you’re never gonna forget.”
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