03/25/18 — Boxing --Airman Hicks shining between the ropes

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Boxing --Airman Hicks shining between the ropes

By John Joyce
Published in Sports on March 25, 2018 3:08 AM

One of Ashford's most successful fighters is also one of his most recent.

Sage Hicks, the 152-pound middleweight Atlanta native brought to Goldsboro via the military, now trains inside the Ashford Boxing Gym as often as his schedule allows.

"My dad always had me in the ring, but I never took it seriously until I joined the military," Hicks said.

The 21-year-old said he played football growing up, but after joining the Air Force he found that he needed something to do to keep active.

"I needed something physical to occupy my time when I'm not at work," Hicks said.

"One day, I went tot he barber shop and I saw the flier on the window. From there on I've been in the gym every day."

Hicks said he fell in love he moment he entered Ashford's gym.

"I love it. I liked everything about it. The coach, he understood me. He took me in with welcome arms and he was patient with me," he said.

Hicks started training on Dec. 1, 2016. He trained for four months before his first fight, which he admits now was nerve-racking.

 "I was nervous. I couldn't sleep the night before. I was up all night."

The situation was a new experience. Unlike training in the solitude of the gym, all eyes were upon Hicks, only 20 at the time and a novice to the ring.

He said the nerves stayed with him right up until the moment he stepped in the ring. Then his training and his confidence in himself settled in.

"The nerves just left. It was just go time then," he said.

His opponent surprised him. He was bigger. He was stronger. He was skilled.

Hicks said he wasn't expecting to fight someone so skilled his first time out.

"For me to go in there and beat him, then I kind of new, like, OK. All the hard work I've been putting in was worth it."

Fast forward a year, Hicks is a two-time Golden Gloves champion sporting a 10-1 record with his only loss ---- disputed ---- coming in Pennsylvania. He said he learned  a lot form the experience and the proof is in the belts.

In his most recent bouts, back-to-back fights over two days in the Golden Gloves championships in Charlotte earlier this month, he gave both fighters he faced two standing eight counts in the matches he won, both by decision.

Hicks said seeing what Ashford does with the kids he works with says a lot.

"It's positive. It's so positive. I get to see all these young kids in here working hard, the drive that they have. Goldsboro is a definitely a nice community. I interact with the kids and they look up to me, so it just makes me go harder. Because I want them to succeed just like I am succeeding."