Local camp brings on boxing's heavyweights|Turner turns boxers into champions

Published 10:33 am Sunday, August 2, 2009

Staff Writer

Through the briars and thickets of heavily-wooded Pamlico County lies a safe haven for boxers of all nationalities and walks of life.
Heavyweights and featherweights, bruisers, bashers and slashers, entrech themselves at Don Turner’s boxing “boot” camp in Arapahoe year-round.
Turner, the two-time World Boxing Association Trainer of the Year, puts his boxers to work at the secluded training camp. As boxing veteran DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley said, “You eat, sleep, breath boxing 24 hours a day.”
Corley and longtime friend Lange have been training at the sleepaway camp for months in preperation for their next big bouts. Lange, a 30-year-old junior middle weight boxer from Great Falls, Va., competed on the first season of the hit TV show “The Contender.” Lange was voted the “fan favorite” by the reality boxing show’s TV audience. He also recently won the 154-lb. WBC USNBC Championship.
Lange, who boasts an impressive 30-3-2 record with 21 knockouts in his 10-year professional career, hooked up with Turner through Corley.
“I came down and we just made music,” Lange said.
Lange, who started boxing when he was 6 years old, said he wasn’t accustomed to intense, isolated boxing camps before he began training at Turner’s camp.
“I’ve never been in this kind of atmosphere,” he said. “We don’t have a life outside of boxing, and that’s really what you need.”
Lange considers himself a “throwback” boxer and considers Turner a “throwback” trainer. He said Turner’s old-school techniques could be fundamental in his success as a trainer.
“The new style of training is not what it used to be and trainers don’t live boxing like Mr. Turner,” Lange said. “He’s done it all, seen it all, and he loves the sport, so he lives it.”
Turner has trained over 20 world champion boxers, including former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. The longtime trainer was at Holyfield’s side when he defeated Mike Tyson by knockout in the 11th round of their Nov. 9, 1996 bout.
For the win, considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing, Holyfield was named the World Boxing Association’s Fighter of the Year and Turner the Trainer of the Year.
Of the honor, Turner said, “You can’t do it without a good fighter.”
Turner has also trained the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir and former champs Larry Holmes and Mike McCallum.
Turner, 70, was born and raised in Cincinnatti, Ohio. He moved to Arapahoe and set up his secluded boxing camp in 1994. Turner knew the area well, as his wife was a native of the small town. By 2000, Turner was training boxers full-time at the camp. He cooks, provides beds and trains all of his pupils. But not every fighter is welcome at the camp. Boxers must show Turner that they are committed to training and becoming better.
“You are supposed to do all you can to be the best,” Turner said.
Corley gave Turner that committment from the outset of their training relationship. Corley, 25, of Northeast Washington, D.C., was shipped down south to Arapahoe by former trainer and world champion Sugar Ray Leonard to work with Turner in preperation for his bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“When we were getting ready to fight Floyd Mayweather, I wanted to bring Don Turner to the board to train me for that fight,” Corley said. “I said, ‘I want a strict discipline trainer that isn’t going to tell me any lies.’”
After training with Turner, Corley went blow-for-blow with the mouthy Mayweather, lasting all 12 rounds but losing by a unanimous decision. But, Corley, a super light weight fighter, made quite an impression on the outspoken champion.
“I hit him in the third round and he shut up,” Corley said.
Turner also made a lasting impression on Corley, who told the trainer that if and when his contract ran out with Don King Productions, he would come back to Arapahoe.
“I never forgot the way Don trained — the things he had taught me over the years,” Corley said.
Corley’s contract ran out earlier this year, and the next month he was back at the isolated training camp.
Corley, who is 34-11-1 with 20 knockouts, hopes to fight for the super light weight title by the end of the year.