Troy – From one end of the gym, Liz Drew is moving from side to side, giving instruction to the women who come into CDY Fitness in Troy to train in kickboxing.
From the corner of her eye, however, she is able to correct mistakes her young boxers are making from across the room.
“Stick and move” is not just a boxing tactic for Drew, it is a way of life for her – and she is passing it on to her students, who have received the message and run with it.
Drew has a tight-knit group of fighters who faithfully train daily – and are preparing for the upcoming 2023 Missouri Golden Gloves.
“It’s been great,” said Warren Ingersoll, whose been training with Drew for over 18 months. “She keeps us focused. She’s the entire package. She’s everything you want from a coach and a mentor.”
“Liz is a good coach and a motivator,” said Claude Daniels, one of three brothers who train with Drew at CDY Fitness. “I’ve worked a lot on my speed as a little guy.
“Eventually, I would like to go pro in a couple of years.”
If anyone plans on training with Drew, that person better plan to be “all in.” That means a strict policy of no smoking, drinking or drugs
“She can tell if you’re doing it.” Mark Daniels said. “You can’t live both lives and still be successful.”
“She makes sure to let us know you can’t focus on two things at once,” Ingersoll said. “Boxing is a lifestyle. There’s no wasted time.
“If you’re not training your body, you’re training your mind. You’re always training something.”
However, there have been slip-ups here and there, with heavy penalties.
“We messed up a couple of times early on, and Liz was not happy,” Claude Daniels said. “We paid the price for that.
“She runs a tight ship here.”
Drew said she has seen many of her students fall into the perils of drugs and alcohol – with unfortunate results. However, she said this group has been the most disciplined she’s coached.
“I’ve had students go to prison, and a couple commit suicide after they left,” said Drew, a trained martial artist who was also a former professional boxer. “However, this group has stuck together, and they’ve become close.”
Different paths to the same place
Each of Drew’s fighters come from different backgrounds, but they arrive on time at CDY Fitness to train for their main goal: to do well – and possibly win at Missouri Golden Gloves 2023.
Jason Percy is heading to Missouri Golden Gloves for the second time. The Montgomery County resident and military veteran has been training with Drew for 10 years, by far the longest of her boxers, and carries a lightning-fast left jab.
“I was always interested in combat sports,” Percy said. “I grew up in California, and boxing was huge out there. I grew up in a crazy Southern California neighborhood.”
Troy native Dalton McCarry joined the team six months ago looking for a new experience.
“I wrestled and played football in high school, and after I graduated, I was looking for something else,” he said. “Then Liz asked me if I wanted to start fighting, so I ended up here.”
However, the Daniels brothers come to CDY Fitness through the most circuitous of paths. The Missouri natives spent their childhood in Guatemala, before returning to the United States, and found boxing as a path to stay off the streets.
“Our dad used to box, and we used to get in trouble a lot,” said Mark Daniels, the oldest of the three brothers. “We were wanting to find something to do, so we found this.
“We wanted to live vicariously through our dad.”
At 19 years old, Henry Daniels is the youngest of the brothers, but he has been training with Drew the longest. He said his life has changed dramatically since he started training.
“I learned how to fight,” he said. “I used to pick fights when I was younger, but once you get hit in here, you learn it’s a different thing.”
Middle brother Claude Daniels joined CDY Fitness a month after Henry, but quickly learned a few valuable lessons once he began training.
“I had bottom braces, so I had to wait to get in the ring,” the 21-year-old said. “You learn quickly the bag doesn’t hit back once you’re in the ring.”
Mark Daniels was living in Minnesota when his brothers began training, but once he returned to Troy, he decided to join them.
Though he has been training with Drew just four months, Mark said he has already seen a transformation in his body and his mind.
“They were coming to the gym and having a good time, so I met Liz,” the 23-year-old said. “It’s been a fantastic journey, and I learned what love for myself is.
“I thought I knew what love for myself was, but I didn’t truly know what that was until I came here.”
Getting in the ring
The first fight can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. For Drew’s young boxers, that was no different, especially when they had no idea they were fighting.
“I was really scared at first,” McCarry said. “I wasn’t supposed to fight until Golden Gloves, but Liz scheduled a fight before that.
“When they put the gloves on me, I thought I was going to throw up, but afterward, I was fine.”
Henry Daniels walked into the first fight with fear as well, but said he remembered Drew’s training, and came out fine.
“(Drew) has helped me build up discipline with everything in my life,” he said. “I was nervous going into my first fight, but it got better as it went on.”
It was one fight, however, that impressed every fighter in the group, even Drew. Ingersoll scored a knockout in his last fight – in less than a minute, a tough feat, especially with headgear.
“There was good energy in the fight,” he said. “(My opponent) led with a jab. I came across with a left hook, and then I hit him with a right hook. He fell across to the ropes, and that was the end of the fight.
“God gave me a gift of quick power, and that’s something that hard to take.”
Gaining experience – win or lose
No matter what happens in the finals March 31 at the Florissant Civic Center, the boxers at CDY Fitness want to gain as much in-ring experience as possible, even though a win is the ultimate goal.
“Either you learn, or you take something from it.” Mark Daniels said. “Like our dad said, you have to be willing to learn.”
“Win or lose, I want to get better. You need to get better,” Percy said. “It’s either win, or you learn. There is no lose.”
McCarry said he’s going to experience the moment.
“It’s for fun for me,” he said. “I don’t expect to be a pro boxer. It’s going to be a great experience, even if I lose.”
Ingersoll said he has a great feeling about his chances at the event.
“I think that God’s taking care of me in this situation,” he said. “I think whatever his