By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, [email protected]
What’s in a name? If you’re Gary Russell it means a “bloodline of royalty.” However, in real world vernacular it means raising world champions who are leaders in their community.
The senior Russell is the patriarch of Maryland’s first family of boxing. As father, coach, mentor, manager and husband he is the ultimate role model for a crew of champions who have turned the sweet science into a family enterprise and an inspiration for their neighbors in Capital Heights.
His four sons share his name though each has enjoyed a different path to personal and championship success. “Mr.” Gary, Jr., the eldest, is currently the World Boxing Council’s Featherweight Champion after becoming the first of the family to make the United States Olympic Team. He now the shares knowledge gained on the path to his title by assuming his father’s role as head coach of Team Gary Russell for his brothers as his career continues.
Gary Allan III has hung his gloves up but works close with Gary, Jr. as an assistant in the corner during fights. Gary Antonio is an undefeated 12-0 professional Bantamweight. “The Last Russell” – Gary Antuanne – is an Olympic bronze medalist who is 7-0 as a professional as a rising lightweight and was a 1995 high school valedictorian at Croom High in Prince George’s County.
Team Gary Russell is providing opportunities for the next generation of boxers to follow them. Through the Team Russell Amateur Invitational Jr. Camp, they are mentoring young fighters between 12-18 years old on through boxing skills development while improving nutritional habits.
Russell, Sr. believes that arming his sons with the knowledge of their ancestry and finding an something to drive them are key to his leadership.
“Once [Black kids] learn they are descendants of kings, they’re motivated to be great.”