Donovan Dennis has worked twice as hard to get ready for his sixth attempt at a national Golden Gloves title next week in Indianapolis.
With twice as many downtown Davenport boxing gyms available for workouts, that has been easily accomplished.
Dennis, a 25-year-old Davenport native, will be joined at the national tourney that starts Monday at the Indiana Convention Center by fellow Beasly's Boxing Gym products Travis Thomas and Aaron Robinson.
All three launched their amateur fighting careers at the long-standing Pena's Boxing Club on West 4th Street.
So did Fred Thomas, a 13-year journeyman professional boxer. Pena's also is where the 1995 Davenport North graduate cultivated a dream to open his own gymnasium.
"I have been looking around for a couple of years," said Fred Thomas, 33, who also will work in Indianapolis as an assistant coach for an Iowa team that includes the three Davenport fighters. "You don't get paid doing it. You're trying to help kids."
Alvino Pena, the 79-year-old patriarch of Davenport boxing, has had that same mission over four-plus decades overseeing the Davenport Boxing Club.
He continues to open the gym on schedule weekday afternoons, and Thomas said his mission is not to replace the legendary gym that launched the careers of Michael Nunn and Antwun Echols.
But to accomplish his own dream, he said, he had to strike out on his own.
"I have certain ways that I train and certain things that I do," Thomas said. "I've got to respect Alvino. That's his building. It's like anything else - you want to do something your way, get your own building."
Thomas found an affordable way to make that happen when he talked to Brandon Bea, who owned a vacant building next to his Downtown Pawn Shop at 1037 West 3rd Street. He pays for utilities only there.
"I told him about something I had been trying to do for years with a boxing program for kids," Thomas said of Bea. "He liked the idea. He wanted to do something to give back to the community."
In October, Thomas began cleaning out the upstairs section of the building. He brought in equipment he had been collecting over his 13 years in boxing and made use of weight equipment Bea made available.
He opened the gym that same month and steadily has seen a group of school-aged boxers begin showing up for 4 p.m. sessions, recording an all-time high of 22 on Monday.
Evenings, older boxers like Dennis, Travis Thomas, 27, and Robinson, 25, take over.
Back in Davenport after an eye-opening debut season under renowned boxing coach Pat Burns with the Miami Gallos of the fledgling World Series of Boxing, Dennis has taken advantage of both hometown gyms.
He works on technique during afternoons at Pena's. At Beasly's - named after a hip-hop clothing shop Bea once operated in the building - the promising heavyweight hits the mitts and the weights and does cardio workouts.
His WSB experience has him feeling as ready as he has ever been to contend for a national title, the Olympic hopeful heavyweight said.
Travis Thomas, who is a state champion Golden Glover for a second straight year, also heads to Indy with high confidence, thanks to one-on-one work with his older brother in the gym he long ago vowed to open.
"If he says he is going to do it, he's going to do it," Travis Thomas said. "He has got his heart and everything into it."
Fred Thomas continues to work as a teacher's aide at Davenport Central High School, but left a job at a local casino to make Beasly's a reality.
Next, he said, he plans to open a learning center, with computers and books, where his young boxers can finish homework before and after training sessions.