Two Lives in Boxing
Yates' 1989 article focused on Mike "Stinger" Johnson, who was gearing up for an International Boxing Federation title bout and was McKinley's last best chance for a champion. But even Johnson recognized there'd been a boxer with more promise at the club. "Out of all the guys in the program, Eric had the most ability," Johnson said in the article. "Now we'll probably never get to see how good he would have gotten."
Twenty years later, Eric McGuire and Mike Johnson are running the A-Squared Fight Club, training a new generation of boxers. Recently relocated from a warehouse near the Ann Arbor Airport to a cramped auto garage in Ypsilanti, the club is a flurry of activity.
On a Thursday evening Jasmine Hampton is in the ring working on her punches and footwork. Her cousin, James Taylor, ranked No. 2 in the country for his age and weight last year, is next to her. Raven Barnes works the speed bag, while Johnson holds up a rectangular pad across his forearms for a young man to hit. "Again, again," Johnson yells, moving the pad. Several stationary bikes line one side, and near the entrance is a homework table. McGuire is making the rounds, giving instructions and encouragement.