Davon “Devo” Evans was born and raised in the Central District. His father was a primary force behind CAMP (Central Area Motivational Program) from its inception in the 6o’s, and Devo not only has many tales of that era to tell, he is considered a legend on account of his acquaintance with the African American community and his knowledge of the Central District’s rich and varied history.
Devo knows Devil’s Ditch, a long ago dirt hill connecting Spring Street to Lake Washington Blvd where youth took the challenge on bicycles. The convenient store once owned by Bruce Lee’s father is now a house on the corner of 29th Ave E and E John St. Fire Engine Park on 18th Ave and Columbia used to be the Black Panthers’ Headquarters in Seattle. Odessa Brown’s old house is at 1601 Alder. Ezell’s used to be Bulldog’s Burgers. Grocery Outlet used to be Roger’s Thriftway. Vu Auto Repair on S. Jackson used to be a fruit stand. Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu used to be a corner store. The new brick building apartments near Pratt Park used to be a Wonderbread Factory. Cappy’s Boxing Gym was, in earlier times, an automotive repair shop. Devo remembers it all.
Now Devo works for Cappy’s Boxing Gym as the Gym Maintenance Man. He inspects all gym equipment on a regular basis and follows a strict schedule of cleaning and sanitizing all gym surfaces – but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There is an endless list to what Devo does to provide the safest and cleanest gym environment for all Cappy’s clients.
Devo incorporates the concepts of Living A Boxer’s Lifestyle into his job. With every maintenance task there is a different workout. When he is moving and lifting the mats, Devo focuses on his hamstrings and practices his deadlifts. His shoulders get a good workout when he has to reach up high. When mowing the grass, he pushes through his legs and engages his quads. Working at the gym gives Devo the opportunity of meeting people from diverse backgrounds. The phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” resonated with him time and time again. No matter how a person appears, everyone who enters Cappy’s Boxing Gym proves they are strong and determined. Devo continues to be a legend in his own time, amassing stories of the CD.
James Fontanos began training at Cappy’s Boxing Gym in September of 2005, at the age of 12. He took up boxing to occupy his time after school and with the intent of having fun and impressing his peers. James would come in on Sunday mornings to clean and maintain the gym’s equipment in exchange for his boxing training. At one point, James had goals of becoming a professional boxer. However, he cut his amateur career short. Boxing is a way of life, and James decided that the best way to fully understand Boxing and Living A Boxer’s Lifestyle was to live life and experience as much as possible. Through Living A Boxer’s Lifestyle, James gained awareness of his body and of his surroundings—the ability to read body language and to recognize his own reactions and reflexes. It is a skill that is developed in the gym, but when applied to everyday life, can alter anyone’s perspective.
This awareness helped James overcome the “crisis” in his neighborhood. On the outside looking in, his tendency to put others first took over. James tried to redirect his friends from trouble and into Cappy’s. He wanted them to achieve the same awareness and to realize that they had choices. His social consciousness played a major role in his writing. Yes, James was also a talented writer. He participated in open mics, poetry slams and was involved with the program Youth Speaks. James’s writing helped him understand intent and flow, in connection to boxing. The intention behind writing—the message to a select audience—can be compared to the intent behind a punch. Though intention is important, a game plan doesn’t always work out. A writer might get blocked and a boxer may miss their window of opportunity to throw that right hand. Just go with the flow.
James is now using his boxing skills to fundraise money for the Filipino Culture Organization (Alay Ng Kultura). Every week, James meets with the organization’s participants and teaches them how to box. Cappy’s Boxing Gym is helping James fight his latest match by donating boxing equipment. Eight years ago, James was inspired to box after watching Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. Now, he has become a warrior himself as he gives back to his community. The Cappy’s Team is proud to see their former boxer live his training and finding success through Living A Boxer’s Lifestyle. James’s advice to Cappy’s youth boxers was this: Approach every situation with an empty cup, a sense of emptiness, the intent of learning more.
Queen Underwood, born and raised in Seattle, Garfield graduate and Olympic Boxer, shares her story with Cappy’s Boxers. Queen started boxing at the age of 17 and began her amateur career at 19. The Olympian is also a six-time USA National Champion, the 2010 World Championships bronze medalist and the 2013 Continental Champion. For Queen, participating in the 2012 Olympics was an overwhelming experience. There was a lot of pressure going into London. Not getting the results she had hoped for, Queen is hungry to continue training to get the Gold in the 2016 Olympics. Queen’s latest competition was the 2013 Continental Championships in Venezuela. She fought four matches with stylistically different boxers. In her first match, she fought an unfamiliar opponent from Brazil. Initially, Queen thought it would be an easy match, but her opponent threw a lot of punches. Queen used her quick movement to diffuse the punches. By the end of the first round, she had a strong 8-point lead. Her second match was against Canada. Queen had reviewed footage and found her opponent to be awkward and rangy. Queen knew that she had to either commit inside or use lateral movement and make adjustments. The key to winning this match was to not get caught being flat-footed. Queen’s toughest fight was her third, against Puerto Rico. She had faced her opponent before and lost by decision. Queen’s opponent was a Southpaw, but she had worked a lot with Southpaws at the training camp. So that was not a problem. Queen mimicked her opponent’s style, was explosive and showed intent behind every punch. It was a close match, but Queen won in the last round by a slim margin. Her last match was against Argentina. Argentina has a reputation of good boxers with good movement. Her opponent was tall, slender and had good range. Queen used a lot of faints, moved in explosively, countered and ended her combinations with a jab. The key in this match was to be active and throw punches every 3-4 seconds.
The journey for Queen Underwood continues. As her motto goes: Can’t stop, won’t stop. Queen will continue representing Team USA in the coming year. She aims to train and gain experience in preparation for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Follow Queen on Facebook and Twitter (@queenunderwood) for updates. To contact Queen, email her at [email protected]