LIMA – It’s just after 6 p.m. on a Wednesday evening in the back training room of the Anytime Fitness gym in Lima.
From the open doors, you can actually hear “Eye of the Tiger” playing as background noise under the slapping sound of boxing gloves colliding into thick mitts worn by a tall, muscular trainer with a hat turned backward.
And over all of that, you can hear trainer Corey Budd snapping out orders.
Each call for “one two” or some variant is instantly met with the appropriate amount of punches. By the end of the class, the person being trained is drenched in sweat, limp arms hanging at his or her side but a step or two closer to a fitness goal.
“It’s a mental and physical workout,” said Tyler Hendershot, who has been working with Budd for about six months. “You really have to pay attention. Those are some long two-minute rounds.”
For Budd — who lives and breathes boxing — it’s just one of the ways he works his craft. While the workout training is new, his boxing roots are deep.
Nope, this isn’t some fitness junkie who adopted a few punching techniques to give clients another angle to get in shape. This is a former amateur and professional boxer who happens to enjoy working out and helping others get in ridiculous shape.
“Boxing is so intense, this routine is intense,” said Budd, who’s been training for about a year. “Once you do this, your mind is blown. It’s amazing to see people who have probably never thought they’d have on a pair of boxing gloves, throwing combinations, bobbing and weaving, ducking … I’m just fortunate to be the guy who gives them this.”
But to people who know Corey, it’s not surprising. Outgoing and charismatic, his love for the sport works its way into virtually every moment of his life. It’s why Anytime Fitness owner Lyle Endsley originally approached Budd about doing the class.
Boxing finds him
“Boxing is my life,” Budd said. “For me to pass on boxing in some aspect is amazing.
“Boxing has a way of finding you. I mean, who in their right mind would choose getting punched in the face as their sport? But boxing chooses who it wants to and somehow it found me.”
In fact, it reached out and wrapped him up at 5 years old when a dad’s friend was watching Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran.
“I was like, what is this?” Budd said. “An hour later, my friend and I were out in the yard with socks on our hands punching each other’s lights out.”
While Budd’s introduction to boxing led to an amateur, professional, coaching and officiating career, he knows his clients are never going to fight. His 30-minute classes are essentially circuit routines that mix boxing work — heavy bag, hand mitts, etc. — with everything from squats to burpees and pushups.
“It’s a perfect workout for me,” Hendershot said. “I love working out at the gym but this breaks up the monotony. Working with him for about a month, I lost 10 to 15 pounds just from that jolt to the system.”
While Budd dedicates a number of hours to the training, he also helps his old coach Lonnie Rettig at Southside Spartans twice a week.
Interestingly enough, Budd’s real contribution to the gym isn’t necessarily teaching combinations and tactics to the young fighters.
“He’s a mentor, a father figure,” Rettig said. “Most of these guys never get paid much attention at home and if so it’s negative. In boxing, it’s positive. He comes in and encourages them.
“These kids see Corey come back after living the life he lived, the troubles he endured at a young age, and then turn it around and do something good. They see that and it means the world.”
Indeed, Budd’s childhood was difficult. As the son of a mother who had muscular sclerosis, which required nursing home care, Budd was forced to grow up bouncing around in foster care facilities.
“I didn’t want to be in foster care, I’d run away and get caught and go to different homes or juvenile detention centers,” Budd said. “I lived in some really small towns and usually I’d be the only minority. But all of that motivated me.”
While it was often hard to find a gym to box in, he still managed it from time to time. Eventually, Budd started working with a trainer who brought him to Lima, which led to him working with Rufus Brassell at the Hope Center in Lima.
During an event there, he lost to a fighter from Rettig’s gym, then the Lima Spiders. Rettig helped him understand why he lost, and from there the 18-year-old gravitated toward Rettig, who understood how to work with light and middleweights like Budd.
“He boxed like a 270-pound heavyweight,” Rettig said. “He was 145, 152 and hit like a tank, but was the most robotic fighter I had ever seen.”
By the time Rettig had worked his magic, Budd was floating like a lightweight. And the change paid off with Budd succeeding in the amateurs — making two trips to the national Golden Gloves tournaments — before turning pro at 21 and winning his first five or six fights.
Then, a number of things happened in a short time period during his early 20s: He broke his neck and had to have spinal surgery, his mother passed away, and he was picked up by Don King Promotions.
“I was very hungry as a young fighter,” Budd said. “I was ready to take on the world. I wanted to make money to get my mom out of nursing homes so we could live together, that was my main motivation.
“Before she passed, she saw me fight professionally twice. She was proud. That meant a lot to me.”
When he was brought in to Don King Promotions, his manager was King’s son Carl. For about six months, Budd sparred with “champions and former champions” but didn’t have a fight. Then one day, a trainer noticed the scar on his neck.
“It got X-rayed and they said I should never have fought again,” Budd said. “It was a risk to their company. I felt like my career had gone down the drain.”
After being released, Budd continued to fight until about eight years ago. Since then, he’s remained a fitness fiend and done anything he can to stay in boxing. About four years ago, he got licensed to train and coach. Now, between coaching, training and a full-time job, he rarely sleeps or takes personal time. But according to him, he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“He has amazing heart,” Rettig said. “To see him overcome so much, to know what he went through when his mom passed away, and to see him progress as a person … it’s overwhelming to think about.
“He’s someone a lot of people look up to and to see him give his time to teach this craft, to see it passed down, there’s no greater joy.”
Of course, no boxing story is complete with out one final comeback. Budd, in fact, at 37 years old and 205 pounds, is doing just that. Within the next 90 days, he believes he’ll fight again.
“I don’t think it’s over for me in boxing,” he said. “I know I’m not going to be Floyd Mayweather, but I want to fight. If I go in and get thrashed, I’m done. But if I go in and thrash him, I’m going to keep going.
“I’m taking it fight by fight. I’m not doing it for the money, just for me because I want to know if I still have it.”