Christopher: Boxing has been my salvation
Tyler Christopher has revealed how boxing turned his life around and helped him knuckle down after serving a short prison sentence about two years ago.
The 21-year-old heads to Barranquilla, Colombia, on Thursday, where he will represent Bermuda at the Central American and Caribbean Games and said he is proud of how he has matured inside and outside of the ring.
Christopher admits he reached “breaking point” during the month he spent in Westgate and credits boxing as being his salvation, and thinks without it, he would have continued heading down a dangerous path.
“Boxing has saved my life; I don’t know where I’d be without it,” Christopher said.
“I was up Westgate for about a month for probation violations. I thought, ‘This is no place for me’. I saw people who are up there for life, ten years. I’m never going back.
“That was the breaking point right there. I was like, ‘You need to start making better decisions’.”
After being released, the first decision Christopher made was to fully commit himself to his craft. He had already been boxing for several years, firstly at Controversy Gym under coach Leo Richardson before joining professional Nikki Bascome and Andre Lambe, his Bermuda team-mate, at Allan “Forty” Rego’s Gym in Warwick.
Without the help and guidance of those aforementioned coaches, along with the support of the Bermuda Boxing Federation, Christopher fears he may have reverted to his old ways and found himself in more trouble.
“Boxing takes up all of my life now,” said Christopher, who has eight wins from 11 bouts.
“I don’t have the time to engage in things that aren’t benefiting me. I go to work, I go boxing and I go to sleep. That’s my daily routine. Life’s going well right now.
“I feel very proud to be able to represent Bermuda. I’ve made great improvements in my life inside and outside of the ring. I just want to show everyone what I can do in Colombia.”
The gutsy southpaw reached the CAC Games after losing in the qualifying quarter-finals to Luis Hernandez, of Panama, via a split decision in Tijuana, Mexico, in March.
Christopher believes he learnt some valuable lessons during those three rounds and feels “more confident, fitter and better prepared” before his first major international competition.
“We were the newbies on the block [in Tijuana] but those guys weren’t technically more advanced than us, they just had more ring experience,” said the middleweight.
“The guy I fought won a bronze medal and he only fought me. I very nearly came back to Bermuda with a bronze medal and that’s just given me more motivation to train harder.”
Christopher admits he was first attracted to boxing for all of the wrong reasons and simply wanted to become a more accomplished street fighter.
“I just wanted to fight and get better at it,” said Christopher, who works for Pitt and Company Ltd on Happy Valley Road.
“But someone said they saw some talent in me and I just stuck with it. Look at me now — I’m about go to Colombia and represent Bermuda!”
When asked what advice he would to give any youngsters caught up in antisocial behaviour on the island, Christopher said: “I’d say that it’s not worth it. Go and make something of yourself and make your family proud. The streets are not where it’s at. “I’ve had to distance myself from certain people and certain areas. I don’t want to fall into the trap and get caught up doing certain things.
“Now I just want to make Leo, Mr Rego [who died aged 86 in February], my coach [Varo] Pelon Andre and the people at my work proud.”
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