When Kevin Harvison uprooted his family from Oklahoma in September for the purpose of developing his children's boxing talents, Tom Moraetes was overwhelmed.
Harvison's oldest children, Brittany and Yon, both accomplished amateur boxers in McAlester, Okla., were headed to Augusta.
"Kevin was hand-delivering two future Olympians to my front door," said Moraetes, director of Augusta Boxing Club. "I was just overwhelmed by the show of faith and confidence they had in our program here in Augusta."
The Harvisons competed in tournaments across the nation and fell in love with Augusta.
"We attended the Golden Gloves the last two years, and we got to know Tom," Harvison said. "I took them as far as I could. The kids realized their potential and are going to get the chance to go to the next level at this facility with Tom."
This weekend, Brittany, 12, and Yon, 11, along with more than 100 other boxers are participating in the East Coast Silver Gloves Championships at the Boys Club of Augusta. The winners from these matches earn a trip to the National Silver Gloves in Lenexa, Kan., on Feb. 1-3.
Harvison's youngest children, Ashley and Kelsey - ages 9 and 8, respectively - also are working with Moraetes. But for the sister-brother duo known as "Thunder and Lightning" in McAlester, the road to success came easy.
"These kids are equal as far as determination," Moraetes said. "They have the desire, determination and dedication in their heart. That is something that can't be coached.
"There is some work to do," Moraetes said. "But given time, they will realize their potential."
When Yon was 8 and made a hobby of picking on his sisters and practicing Power Rangers moves, Harvison decided to take his son to the local boxing club and try the tough love approach.
"Yon was small for his age, and he got picked on at school," the former photojournalist said. "He would take out frustration on his sisters. So when we got to the club I expected the bigger boxers to pick on him, give him a taste of his own medicine.
"When I found him, the other boxers were showing him different moves on the heavy bag," Harvison said. "They treated him with respect and from that day, his self-esteem level went up."
Brittany's motivation was a little more self-centered.
"She was shy, but she was used to getting the attention, and here's Yon getting all the attention," Harvison said. "One day she put together some combinations and shocked us all. All she said was `I can do that."'
Brittany is a two-time National Women's Golden Gloves champion in the Junior Olympic division and a Silver Gloves champion. Yon was the state Silver Gloves champion in Oklahoma. Both have set lofty goals for their futures.
"I want to become a professional boxer and be a world champion," Brittany said.
"I want to be a champion," Yon said. "I want to win the Olympics. If that doesn't happen, then I want to be a coach."
Harvison's wife, LaDonna, is always concerned about safety. But, according to Harvison, she thinks it's the best thing in the world when the bouts are over.
"But before the fight, we have a battle at the house before the battle in the ring," Harvison said jokingly.
Nonetheless, Moraetes has let his dynamic duo know how good they can be.
"Tom has said he will never manage," Brittany said. "But he told us if we ever turn pro he would manage us."
"They have a lot of talent and ability," Moraetes said. "They are potential Olympians and champions."
East Coast Silver Gloves will conclude today with championship bouts in the 10-15-year-old groups. Winners advance to the nationals in Lenexa, Kan. Feb. 1-3.
Reach Miguelangelo Hernandez at (706) 823-3304.
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