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Chester County Press

Straight 2-3 Boxing Club: Oxford's home of champions

04/25/2017 12:12PM ● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

At the Straight 2-3 Boxing Club in Oxford, owned and operated by Dwayne Phipps, there is very little in the way of aesthetic and marketing fanfare. 
Operated out of a corner wedge of space in a long warehouse row on Old Baltimore Pike, the club doesn't have a sign. Its interior back walls are lined with boxing posters, and seating is in the form of unglamorous benches that tell the visitor that this is not a place of grandeur. It's the bare bones of what Phipps has intended it to be, a classroom where the “Sweet Science” of boxing is studied with the same intensity as a doctorate-level neuroscience symposium taught at MIT.
Now in its third year, the Straight 2-3 Boxing Club has already been producing some incredibly gifted students. Two stand out: Phipp's 11-year-old son Cornellio, nicknamed “Chada,” and 20-year-old Bahieem Billups. Working in the 75-pound weight class and sporting a 27-10 overall record, Cornellio is a two-time Pennsylvania Silver Glove state champion, and won the 2016 Ringside World National Championship in Independence, Mo. He also won the 2017 Hometown Heroes Boxing Championship in Charleston, W.Va.
“Cornellio has the ability to take himself to an Olympic team, and make a good living from the sport,” Phipps said. “You ask him what he wants and he will tell you, 'I want to be the best.' He loves the spotlight.”
Currently boxing in the 152-pound weight division, Billups is the 2017 Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Eastern Regional Champion. Having only taken up the sport two years ago, he now trains seven days a week, and has only one goal in mind: The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“God willing, Bahieem can go all the way to the Olympics,” Phipps said. “That's our goal. He has three more years, and then we see him going back to the Olympics four years later. Bahieem has done a lot in a short period of time, and if he continues to work hard and train, the sky is the limit for him. The Olympics is a way to represent your country, and he has the ability to get him there.”
He is in training to compete at the National Gold Gloves in Lafayette, La. Billups said his inspiration is driven in part by his mother, who died six months ago.
“She always wanted the best for her son,” Phipps added. “Bahieem's transition – his story alone -- is enough to get him over the hump. It will allow him to say, 'I have the skills, and I will embark upon those skills.'”
Phipps, 39, who got boxing training from legendary Delaware boxing icon Dave Tiberi when he was younger, began to teach his son the basics of the sport, beginning when Cornellio was 6. By the time he was 8, Phipps saw a natural talent in his son, and decided to take on the role of Cornellio's trainer. Phipps teaches a European-style boxing, reminiscent of the method taught by boxing coach Freddie Roach to champions Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
At Straight 2-3 Boxing, it's not just punch-punch, jab-jab. The most important lesson Phipps teaches is discipline, and safety.
“At the end of the day, they're all of my kids, and it's my responsibility to keep all of them safe,” he said. “I refuse to let a boxer remain in the ring if he's not listening to me. Boxing is a humble sport, and it can hurt you if you're not focused.”
Phipps doesn't just train current and future champions. He works with young people who will never see  the boxing ring in competition. Rather, they come to the club with life challenges, and through lessons, he sees them improve their confidence. 
Nine-year-old Makayla Bishop struggles with epileptic symptoms and ADHD. Since she began classes at Straight 2-3 Boxing Club two years ago, her mother, Melissa, said she has seen a great improvement in her daughter's ability to concentrate.
“It's been a great activity for her, to learn some self-defense measures,” Melissa said. “When Dwayne is training Makayla, you can actually see her focus, so it enables her to concentrate on one thing, and that plays an important role when she's in school, when she has to show the same focus.”
The Straight 2-3 Boxing Club is at 501 Old Baltimore Pike, Oxford. For more information, make a contribution or visit the club, contact Dwayne Phipps at 610-470-9565.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].

Slug: boxing