“My goal is to win the Junior Olympic Title and then see how far I can go in the sport of boxing,” Anoki Mann, 13, declared.
A New England and Regional Silver Gloves Champion, Mann is training for a match this May 21st in order to win the National Silver Gloves Championship. He has already advanced to the second round and if he wins in May, he will have a place at the Junior Olympics at Lake Placid, NY.
Mann, who is Nipmuc and Taino, started boxing at age 11. He followed along as his father, Larry Spotted Crow Mann, brought his older brother to boxing clinics. “My oldest son found out he would rather play football but Anoki was so taken by boxing that he never left the gym,” Larry Mann explained.
Anoki has also captured the New England Rocky Marciano Championship (2009) and the New England Silver Mittens Championship (2009). His tribe and extended family support his endeavors by attending a lot of his meets, no matter where they are.
Anoki Mann started his boxing career at the Worcester, MA Boys and Girls Club with world-renowned trainer Carlos Garcia. In order to assist, his father Larry Mann, who boxed as a youth in Springfield, MA, also took a boxers’ clinic and courses in training from the USA New England Boxing Commission. “Boxing is about raising a good and healthy, respectable person. Along with Native traditions, exercise is healthy for the spirit and boxing is one of the top conditioning sports,” Larry Mann said.
“The best weapon is to be in top shape and listen to your coaches,” Anoki said. “You have to train hard because boxing is a fun but tough sport. If you’re not prepared, you won’t have good results.”
Anoki compares the fun of the sport to the type of fun on the pow wow trail. “I get to travel and see many places and meet different people.”
Anoki trains two hours a day, five days a week. “Sometimes I feel bad that I can’t ride my bike, but the training is worth it to be successful,” he admits. “Boxers have to be almost exactly the same weight,” Anoki explained, “and I can’t eat junk food like sodas, candy, chips and too much pastry because it slows me down in the ring. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and good meats.”
Other boxers trained by Carlos Garcia at the Worcester Boys and Girls Club include Jose Antonio Rivera (born, 1973), who in 2003 earned WBA Welterweight Championship of the World and in 2006, earned the WBA Championship.
According to The Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Garcia is also the trainer for undefeated Worcester native and middleweight prospect Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez.
Classic Entertainment and Sports (CES) president Jimmy Burchfield inducted Garcia into the prestigious CES Ring of Honor. Inductees are honored for their contributions or achievement to New England boxing. “Carlos has helped countless kids for years as boxing coach at the Worcester Boys & Girls Club,” Burchfield remarked.
Garcia also set-up a community policing relationship between youth and police gang units with his “Give Kids a Fighting Chance” programs. According to Larry Mann, Garcia has kept hundreds if not thousands of kids off the streets with his boxing gym in Worcester.
It was Carlos Garcia who gave Anoki Mann the opportunity of a title at his first match by telling USA Boxing New England, “This kid is ready.”
Nipmuc people lived for millennia in Worcester, or Qunisigamond, as it was then called; as late as 1702 its settler inhabitants were run out of town by Nipmuc and Abenaki warriors.
Today, Worcester is the second largest city in Massachusetts by population and is host to many universities, hospitals, and businesses.
Native culture continues to run deep here; Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), for instance, has Native representatives on its Minority Advisory Board and partners with businesses such as IBM to recruit and mentor Native Students. The University of Massachusetts Anthropology Department has assisted the Nipmuc with research and other work on recently discovered, submerged dugout canoes found by divers in Lake Qunisigamond.
Writer Cheryl Savageau (Muskrat Will be Swimming, Dirt Road Home) is one of many notable Native people; she grew up on an island community of Lake Quinsigamond.
Other colleges in Worcester include Holy Cross, the oldest Roman Catholic college in New England (and attended by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, among others). Across town is Clark University, which offers the only program in the country that leads to a PhD in genocide studies.
But the roots of the former mill town have left many people behind and the interstate built through the city carries with it drug trafficking problems, producing a city with many contrasts. With a crime index of 16, the Worcester Boys and Girls Club, trainers such as Carlos Garcia, and families who immerse their children in family tradition are much needed.
Back at Bartlett High School in Webster, MA, Anoki is earning good grades and is in some honors classes. He continues to respect his Native roots by attending memorials, pow wows, and school presentations with his family. “Anoki has served his Nipmuc tribe since the age of five by singing on their tribal drum group, Quabbin Lake Singers, which travels throughout the northeast and Canada proudly sharing the culture of our ancestors,” Larry Spotted Crow Mann said.
With all this support, Anoki is heading into his May 21st match with many, many people in his corner.