GREAT FALLS - A local boxer travelled to Las Vegas yesterday for his second ever professional fight in the ring. Billy wagner, the head coach at the electric city boxing club, fought against Alexis Espino at the T-Mobile arena.
In preparation, Billy’s been hitting the club most days of the week to hone his skills. For the past two months, he’s been pushing himself with sparring sessions, as well as intense workouts on cardio and stamina.
“We’ve been pushing it hard every night, ever since we found out we got the fight,” said Billy
The 26-year-old is fairly new to the professional scene, turning pro only in the past year, but he’s been boxing for most of his life. It started in Browning, Mont., where he was born and raised, after he noticed his cousins going to a local club as an eight-year-old.
“I was outside my Grandpa Crow’s house,” said Billy as he recalled the memory.” I remember my dad - they were fishing at the [local] lake. I told my dad, I said, ‘Well, bring me over there!’”
He trained there for a few years before he and his family moved to great falls at the age of eleven. Within the first week, his dad introduced him to boxers at the Electric City.
“I walked up to them and they welcomed me in,” he said.
With the help of his friends and coaches, Billy represented both clubs at many amateur tournaments over the years. He reflects on those experiences as he prepares to fight on the undercard of his teenage idol Canelo Alvarez.
“This is what i trained for my whole life. I’m following my dreams and my dreams are finally paying off,” said Billy.
But even with the tournament, he still makes time to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of boxers.
“It’s a good outlet. ‘Cause you know, there are a lot of kids that just go and like be drinking and partying, doing stuff like that,” said ECBC student Merlin Deanahenakew, who’s 18-years-old. “This just keeps me out of trouble, you know?”
“Like you get tired, but you get really hyped up and psyched,” said 12-year-old Taylor Johnson, another student at ECBC.
At the Electric City Boxing Club, your typical warm-ups for kids and adults include running to and from Fairgrounds, jumping jacks and mountain push-ups. Outside of sparring, boxers can also use punching bags to practice their combinations and reaction times.
As a coach, Billy gets to see his students grow as they train, with some even winning amateur tournaments of their own.
“It’s just a heartbreaking feeling to see them win them trophies and take their trophies home,” he said.
Whether or not he wins the fight in Las Vegas, Billy says he simply wants to set a positive example for his students and any other Montanan kid who wants to pursue sports.
“[Billy’s] just a really big inspiration to me,” said Taylor.