Surrounded by teammates like Roy Jones Jr. and Andrew Maynard, U.S. Army boxer Ray Mercer wasn’t too nervous waiting for his bout in South Korea.
He had paid his dues by winning matches against fellow military fighters, earning him a slot as a heavyweight in the 1988 Olympics.
And he showed the world what he was made of, capturing the gold that year for America.
Mercer, who also held the WBO heavyweight title from 1991 to 1992 as a professional, will share stories and experiences Saturday when the 58-year-old speaks to kids and adults following a day of boxing action at Hurricane Boxing, located at 792 Folly Road in Charleston.
Mercer is helping launch the Hurricane Boxing Foundation, a nonprofit that will seek to better the lives of underprivileged children through the introduction of boxing.
“These types of events are always fun,” said Mercer, who will address the crowd around 6 p.m. after the bouts are over. “It’s up to retired boxers like me to get out into the communities and let kids know that the sport is alive and well.”
The doors will open at 1 p.m. with matches beginning at 2 p.m.
Tickets for kids 4 and under are free. Children 5 and up will pay $10 and adults $15. Those who want to stay afterward to hear Mercer and get autographs will pay $25. Proceeds will go toward the foundation.
Michael Golemis, the owner of Hurricane Boxing, said he’s expecting 20 bouts. That includes males and females, with ages ranging from 8 to 35, from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The Hurricane Boxing facility is sanctioned by USA Boxing. That means each win and loss on Saturday will be added to the boxer’s profile and show the governing body that the amateurs are gaining more experience.
Golemis said having Mercer on site is a treat for the youth boxers and the adults. He serves as great example, since he didn’t even consider boxing until he was in his 20s. But hard work and dedication led him through the military and into a professional boxing career.
“He’s an Army veteran, gold medalist and a great humanitarian,” Golemis said about Mercer. “He wants to give back to the sport he loves and that’s why we admire him so much.”
Through these types of events and fundraisers, Hurricane Boxing will look to increase its philanthropy. The staffers already have several initiatives under their belt, including mission trips to Liberia, after school programs here in the Lowcountry, and various others.