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Chester County Press

A champion’s journey

03/08/2022 11:29AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Cornelio “Chada” Phipps is a pugilist with a purpose.

The 16-year-old Oxford Area High School student recently emerged triumphant in the 125-pound weight class during the U.S. National Championships in Shreveport, Louisiana. This is the 12th time that Phipps has won a championship belt in competitions. Each day of training at the Straight 2-3 Boxing Club, and each victory in contests across the country, brings him closer to his goal of representing his country in the Olympics in 2024. It’s a lofty goal, but Phipps has been working toward it for a very long time.

Cornelio’s love of the sweet science goes all the way back to when he was four years old. That’s when his father, Dwayne Phipps, started showing him the ropes of the sport. That’s when the journey began for this champion.

Dwayne Phipps had trained under Delaware boxing great Dave Tiberi so he was well prepared to help his son start his training in the highly competitive and demanding sport. From the very start, Cornelio took to the sport in the same way that his father had. Cornelio was a very quick study, in fact.

“Everything just came naturally in the ring,” Cornelio said.

Dwayne Phipps helped train his son, with a heavy emphasis on conditioning properly. By the time Cornelio reached middle school, he was working on his boxing skills regularly, training multiple times a week and traveling to take part in larger and larger boxing competitions. He also learned a lot by watching and studying boxing greats like Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao, and Vasyl Lomanchenko, to name only a few.

Cornelio’s early success, Dwayne Phipps said, could be attributed to a real good boxing IQ in the ring, as well as a balance of natural speed and power. He worked hard and his boxing skills really progressed during his middle school years. He started accumulating championships: He was a Junior Olympic champion, Eastern Qualifier champion, USA Open champion, and a Ringside World champion.

Boxing has provided Cornelio with the opportunity to travel extensively for not only competitions, but for some training opportunities as well. 

Cornelio said that one of the highlights for him came when he competed in his first U.S. National Championship.

He has also been able to train in different camps in not just Pennsylvania, but in places like Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada, alongside elite boxers from around the country. This has been invaluable in helping his son grow as a boxer, Dwayne Phipps said.

He explained, “That helps to sharpen his skills.”

Soon, Cornelio is supposed to be going to Colorado Springs, Colorado to train under the watchful eyes of Team USA coaches. Boxing at this level requires considerable discipline. “We train five days a week,” Cornelio said, adding that when they are in camp preparing for an upcoming tournament, they might train six times a week. It’s a demanding schedule, but Cornelio also finds the time for fun. He likes to make TikTok videos and play basketball and soccer, and he’s a huge football fan. But boxing is the sport for him, even if it requires some extra training and a higher level of dedication.

The hard work has paid off with some pretty impressive accomplishments and accolades. 

Cornelio has compiled a 32-0 record at various U.S. National tournaments. The overall record so far is 141-15. He has won six national championships, and he recently earned back-to-back Outstanding Boxer of Tournament awards.

Cornelio sees himself improving with each fight.

“I see myself getting better at head movement defense and working on angles,” Cornelio said. He already has a good jab, and the timing on his punches is good.

Anyone who sees Cornelio box comes away impressed. He has the makings of a champion.

“I’m really proud of him,” Dwayne Phipps said. “I’m proud that he has goals.”

COVID-19 certainly slowed things down for the whole boxing community, but now things are getting back on track. Cornelio is eagerly anticipating the trip to Spain to compete.

“I’ve been waiting to be able to fight overseas,” he said.

By training and competing against higher level competition, Cornelio is positioning himself to be able to pursue his longtime goal that has been a motivation.

“My ultimate goal,” he said, “is to get to the Olympics.”