Don’t let his small size fool you, Ben Schluter, a 101-pound, 14-year-old Skyridge Middle School student, is one of the best teen boxers in the country.
After winning first place at the Regional Silver Gloves Tournament in Boise, Idaho, earlier this year, Schluter finished fifth at the national tournament, held Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, in Independence, Missouri.
The Camas teen had a tough draw at nationals and had to fight Antwoine Dorm Jr., a two-time national champion from York, Pennsylvania.
“He was really fast, not really that powerful, but real quick, and he got two eight-counts on me, which is where they stop the fight temporarily,” Schluter said. “After the second eight-count, they stopped the fight, unfortunately.”
The teen boxer’s father, Tim Schulter, has been in his son’s corner since their first trip to the boxing gym in 2012, when Ben Schulter was 7 years old.
“Ben did quite well at his first national tournament,” Tim Schluter said. “This will be a valuable experience for his future, knowing he did well against a far more experienced opponent.”
Ben Schulter came into the sport after watching boxing on television with his father.
“We would watch fights like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, and that’s how I got interested,” Ben Schluter said. “Then my dad took me to West Portland Boxing.”
The Portland gym is sanctioned by USA Boxing, and athletes train to compete in Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves and Junior Olympic events, as well as at international competitions.
The young Schluter said when he first started training in Portland, it was just a cool place to work out. Things changed a few years ago, after he noticed some of his peers showing off shiny hardware.
“I saw kids getting big medals and belts, and I thought, ‘I really want that,'” Ben Schluter said. He lost his first fight, but kept his head up and kept moving forward. Getting hit in the ring is not something he likes, but he said experience has helped him learn how to deal with pain — and how to avoid it.
“When I first started, I’d get hit and my head would fly back, and after a few punches I started to drop a few tears,” Ben Schluter said. “Now, when I get smacked really hard, of course it hurts and I don’t like it, but I can deal with it better than before.”
The years of dedicated training are starting to pay off, and the younger Schulter said his collection of trophies and belts is quickly growing in size, after becoming the state and regional Silver Gloves champion.
Boxing has become a year-round sport for Ben Schluter, who spars with other boxers in Portland three times a week. On the other days he either works on his strength and conditioning in his garage or at Crossfit Mill Town in Camas.
His mother, Kim Schluter, said watching her son fight is always nerve-racking, but she appreciates his hard work and dedication.
“When it comes to boxing, you have to be self-motivated, and it’s taught him that,” Kim Schluter said of her son and his chosen sport. “We’ve let him drive that motivation, and then we are always here to support him.”
That support includes lots of trips to tournaments.
“I don’t really know what my future goals are in boxing, but I do know I want to win lots and lots of trophies,” Ben Schluter said.