As a 26-year-old on the brink of a world title shot, Terence “Bud” Crawford's dedication to the boxing gym is unquestioned. But he admits that wasn't always the case in his youth.
Omaha's top-ranked lightweight recalls times when trainer and mentor Midge Minor pulled him off the streets of north Omaha routinely and forced him downtown to the C.W. Boxing Club.
Recognizing a chance to impact the lives of at-risk youths in the neighborhood he grew up in, Crawford is helping provide a similar outlet for them within walking distance of their homes.
The unbeaten fighter, who owns a 22-0 professional record with 16 knockouts, and his management team announced Tuesday that their B&B Boxing Academy will soon be open to the public.
The club, which draws its moniker from the nicknames of Crawford and his co-manager Brian “BoMac” McIntyre, is located at 3034 Sprague St., near the boxer's childhood home in north Omaha.
“I look at myself as a young individual that is trying to make a change in the community of north Omaha,” Crawford said. “We need more people trying to help out or reach out.
“It's very important to me because this is where I grew up. With the type of neighborhood that surrounds this spot, it's more convenient for the kids to get here. It's right here. It's close by.”
Crawford said he knows there's trouble on the streets. He's seen it firsthand, and he's lost friends to it. He hopes by making his way out of it, he can inspire others to do so also.
“A lot of kids look up to me, and I don't want to stray them on the wrong path,” he said. “They need positive role models to look up to that have been around and been there before, getting in trouble in the streets and hanging with the wrong crowd around a lot of things that I've been around. They can say, 'OK, well, he made it. Maybe I can make it.' ”
The Omahan, who holds the regional North American Boxing Organization lightweight title and is the mandatory challenger for the World Boxing Organization's championship belt, said a woman recently approached him at a store to say she was proud of him.
“ 'I honestly thought you were going to be nothing,' ” he said she told him. “ 'You were one bad little boy, always getting in trouble, always fighting. I honestly thought you were going to end up in jail or dead. You keep on doing what you're doing, and God bless you because you really turned your life around.' ”
Crawford said the woman reinforced his desire as an adult to guide youth away from violence.
“I look at it as it's our fault,” he said. “We set an example for young people. If we don't set a good example, it's going to keep continuing.”
B&B Boxing Academy is in a building formerly used for storage. Crawford's team is renting the space and has brought the vision he shared with McIntyre to life in recent months.
“Oh, man, it's beautiful,” he said. “It makes you feel good.
“The walls were beat up and had holes in them. The ground was all dusty. Everything was just dirty in here. We had to come in here, clean it up and make it a home.”
Crawford said he already has been training at the gym and will continue to do so during his pro career. When that ends, he said he'll have his venture with B&B Boxing Academy to look forward to.
“Boxing don't last forever. Everybody's days are numbered,” he said. “You can't fight until you're 60 years old. Why not start young and pave a way for the young people?”