GRANITEVILLE -- Carl Durden shouldn't have even bothered trying to talk his son Josh out of it.
The damage had already been done two years earlier.
At 6 years of age, Josh Durden became captivated with the sport of boxing after countless viewings of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movie series.
"I tried to stray him away from it," Mr. Durden said. "But once he started watching those Rocky tapes, he just became fixated on it. His mind was made up."
Two years later, Josh's dream stared him right in the face when he saw a sign about the North Augusta Boxing Club. The 8-year-old insisted on joining Noah Newman's camp. He did, and now five years later, he has just reached the peak of his young career.
Josh recently captured the Silver Gloves Eastern Regional Championship in his 14-15-year-old, 100-pound class with a unanimous decision over Christopher Kuhn of West Virginia. With the victory, the Midland Valley High School freshman gets a chance to compete in the National Silver Gloves Championships in Kansas City, Kan., Feb. 3-5.
"It's been pretty good so far, I just love it," Josh said. "I train every night to get better. Ever since I started watching Rocky I've just wanted to be around it. They (parents) tried to keep me away at first, but now they love it just as much as I do."
Mr. Durden keeps track of all of Josh's bouts now, able to relay any fact about a fight, including Josh's opponents and their native cities, the judges count, and even exactly why Josh won or lost the match. This interest comes from the man who wanted his son nowhere near a boxing ring five years ago.
"He concentrates strictly on boxing," Mr. Durden said. "He comes home, does his homework first and goes to the gym at 6:30. I've become really interested in it since he's been doing it. He just loves Noah (Newman) and the boxing club. They teach a lot of good things there. It's nothing like I imagined."
In October, Josh claimed the Charlotte City Invitational with a unanimous decision over Sam Carr of Charlotte. The young boxer said he hopes to one day take the sport on professionally, but he realizes that even his tough work ethic now has to become more stringent.
"I have to train harder if I want to reach my goal," he said. "I just feel like I have to if I'm going to compete with guys bigger and stronger and faster. I always want to be around boxing."
It doesn't take long in talking to Josh to understand the seriousness with which he takes his progress in the sport. The 14-year-old has won a ton of fights in his career, but the one that he most remembers isn't one of them.
"It was about two years ago in the Region Finals," he said of his fight with Anthony Peterson of Washington, D.C. "I lost the fight, but it was a darn good fight. He was good; no one hardly ever beat him and he was out of my weight class. I did OK against him, though."
Reach Patrick Green at (803) 279-6895.
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