TERRE HAUTE —
Chris “Ryan” Jewett never shied away from contact.
So it should come as no surprise that he transitioned from three years of varsity football and wrestling at West Vigo High School to amateur boxing as an adult.
A 2006 graduate of West Vigo, Jewett took up boxing after he turned 19. He quickly learned from his trainer, longtime pro James Porter at Terre Haute’s Sweatbox Gym, that his new sport would be challenging.
“I was pretty raw when I came to him,” Jewett recalled Friday. “He taught me basically everything I know — like my footspeed and my handspeed to throwing punches in general.”
Now 23, a resident of Terre Haute and a truck driver for Oak Express, Jewett admits that he needed plenty of work on his technique.
“It’s a lot more than getting in there and throwing punches,” he explained.
Within a year, the 6-foot, 230-pound Jewett figured out the finer points of boxing well enough to make his amateur debut in Evansville, where he knocked out his opponent in the first round in 2007. “The guy was a former Mr. Kentucky bodybuilder,” he mentioned.
A left-hander, Jewett continued developing his ring skills and captured the Junior Open Division super-heavyweight title (201-plus pounds) in the Indiana Golden Gloves state tournament in 2009.
In 2010, he moved up to the Open Division in the same tournament but lost a decision in the super-heavyweight championship match.
Fast forward to April 14, 2011, when he defeated Miguel Rojas of Indianapolis in the super-heavyweight finale after Rojas could not answer the bell to start the second round inside Indianapolis’ Tyndall Armory. Jewett said he had broken one of Rojas’ ribs with a first-round bodyshot.
“It felt like a little bit of redemption,” Jewett emphasized. “I was definitely more prepared this year.”
That provided Jewett with his first Open Division state title and qualified him for the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions next week — also in Indianapolis — but this time inside the Indiana Convention Center.
Jewett’s first bout will take place Tuesday, probably between 8 and 10 p.m., but his first-round opponent will not be known until Monday. A loss would eliminate Jewett from the tournament, but a victory would be his first step toward advancing into a showdown for the national championship next Saturday night.
A victory there would earn him an invitation to the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I just want to go as far as I can go,” Jewett said without making any boastful promises.
Asked what his future foes should look out for in the ring, Jewett did not hesitate to answer.
“Everybody tells me I’ve got really good handspeed and footspeed,” he stressed. “A lot of people don’t expect me to move the way I do for my size.”
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.