Touch of Sleep
Triumphant Journey of Former Heavyweight Boxer Davarryl Williamson
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A couple miles down Broadway, tucked between the Englewood Recreation center and an auto shop, sits the “Touch ‘em Up” boxing gym. Inside, you will see a warehouse completely dedicated to the development of athletes through the sport of boxing, and you will hear orders barked from the former International Boxing Federation Heavyweight Title Challenger Davarryl Williamson. Williamson is the owner and head trainer at the gym and is also an energetic infectious leader in life. Just being alive and affecting people the way he is displays his character that stands by itself.
Davarryl was born on July 25th, 1968, in a southeastern Washington, D.C., prison to a mother who was addicted to heroin. Until the age of eleven, he grew up in multiple foster homes around the greater D.C. area. He went to a plethora of schools in his early years, which was difficult but also gave him the opportunity to develop the ability to make new friends in all types of situations. Having this made sure that no matter where he lived at the time he, was never alone.
When he turned eleven, his father had regained his paternal rights, and Davarryl moved in with him for the rest of his schooling career. Having a father was a great change in his life. “It was a great feeling to be able to live with my dad in a stable home,” Williamson said, “Up until that point, I had no idea, and no one to teach me how to be a man. Him being there taught me discipline. He showed me what a man needs to do for those around him that depend on him.”
In his youth Davarryl, was just like any other African-American boy in Washington D.C.; he played sports all year round and truly loved when he was in competition. The only trouble was when he wasn’t able to be on the field, and had to be around the vices in his life. His whole life, he was around drug dealers and gangs and had to watch his friends get sucked into the inner city trap. The fact that he is a successful business owner was made possible from one specific instance he recalled.
“I was walking off the football field after finishing a game or practice, and there was an older gentleman who approached me. All I can remember about him was that he told me I had a chance to do something with sports. I can’t remember what he looked like, or what he was wearing, but I remember that moment vividly in my mind. Right then, I knew that I couldn’t fall into drugs, I have to be successful.”
As he continued on through school, Williamson was a standout athlete in both basketball and football. He decided to continue to play football first at Rochester Community & Technical College, and then was offered an opportunity to transfer to Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Arts and Administrative services. All of what he had done was more than incredible for someone from his neighborhood, but he didn’t want to be great only for his neighborhood. He decided to get his master’s degree from Northern Michigan University to further separate himself from the proverbial pack and ensure success in his future endeavors.
For someone in his situation, having a good role model for inspiration was of major importance. For Davarryl, not only was his dad a major part of this influence, he also had football coaches James Tillerson. For Williamson coach Tillerson was a big part of the reason he aspires to help those less fortunate than him. Coach Tillerson had the chance to coach somewhere else but they had a passion to help out those kids from less fortunate nighborhoods. Now Davarryl uses his gym as an outreach program for the families struggling in the Denver-metro area.
Williamson, in the past year, has racked up quite a few high honor accolades; he is now a Colorado Golden Gloves Hall of Famer as well as a Wayne State University Hall of Famer. With a resume most would only dream of, it is hard to believe that Davarryl takes more pride in those whom he influences as a coach. He currently has three fighters in the local Denver boxing circuit and says, “All the things I have done are great, and I am very blessed to be able to achieve what I have. But to be able to show someone a new move and see it come through in the heat of the moment is one of the most gratifying things in the world.”
Most people who are not into boxing will see the sport as played by a bunch of uneducated morons punching each other. This could not be further from the truth. It is true that not all boxers are a versed academically as Davarryl; however, it is also true that many boxers have instincts and the ability to react in high pressure situations. This is what Williamson tries to instill most in all of his protégés. “If one of my boxers can think on their feet in here with little to know consequences, then they will be able to translate that onto the football field, or the basketball court. Even in the workplace. When your boss puts you on the spot and you can think through it good things will happen.” Davarryl explained.
Most students at Cherry Creek have more opportunity than those from less fortunate areas. Not having to worry if a parent will come home, or where the next meal is going to come from; these are problems a lot of the country has to face every day. Not everyone is given the same opportunities in life but if the chance to take what you are given and make something better out of it for children and for those around is the mark of something special. Davarryl Williamson is one of the most special people in my life and is living proof no one is forced to comply with their surroundings. If everyone works hard enough a difference will be made for the under-privileged community as well as the Cherry Creek community.
Check out Davarryl’s gym at http://www.tosboxing.com/.