Meet 14 year-old Ben Schluter, a Camas High School freshman and two-time Oregon State Champion boxer with an eye on a National title.
Ben won his second consecutive State title on November 30, and even though he lives in Camas, his gym is in Portland, so he fights out of Oregon.
“I won the State title in Medford, then I go to Regionals in Boise, Idaho on January 6,” Ben said. “If I win that I go to Nationals to compete with kids in the 114-pound division — up to 16 years old. You have to meet certain weight classes and they fight each other, and depending on age it’s 1 minute, 1-minute-30, 2 minutes and 3-minute rounds.”
Ben competes in 1:30 and 2:00 minute rounds. Has never been knocked out, but has been knocked down.
“It’s a win by decision at this age group,” said Tim Schluter, Ben’s father. “They place a great deal of emphasis on safety. If they notice a kid getting overwhelmed, they’ll end it. All these bouts are pretty competitive. A vast majority by decisions. It’s not cumulative scoring, it’s round by round. If he wins more rounds than his opponent, then they award him the decision. You don’t know results until they announce it.”
Everyone has three rounds in amateur boxing, and a win is defined by one of these areas:
- Judge stops the fight
- By decision (if it goes all the way to the very end)
A boxer for seven years, Ben trains at West Portland Boxing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
“It’s a little drive but it helps me a lot,” said Ben, the second of four brothers (he’s the only boxer; his brother Cole wrestles for Camas). “My workouts last two hours, but I usually get there early and go run on a treadmill. On my off days I work out at home. I usually run 3-4 miles and work out inside my garage. I do this year round. It helps me with self-discipline. I like getting belts, trophies and lots of wins. And I like hitting people.”
And, what does mom say?
“My husband goes to the majority of the matches, so he actually travels with Ben often,” said Kim Schluter, Ben’s mother. “Sports like boxing and wrestling are so different, and it’s very one-on-one and individual and it’s given him so much determination, drive and character. It helps in maturity because it’s very individual. He has some great coaches and mentors. I hesitated when he started.”
Although Ben has boxed since second grade, Tim said it’s only been the last three years where it’s been his singular focus.
“I’ve always been a fan on the sport and we watched it together and he pursued it,” said Tim. “When he was young, it was more casual. The last three years he was single-minded to this sport. There are so many misconceptions about boxing — it’s far more of a mental sport. There are so many kids that are bigger, stronger and faster, but they don’t make it because there’s no drive, persistence or grit. It’s like all sports — it’s an allegory of life. You’re just competing against yourself.”
Ben’s goal is to win every belt.
Here’s a link to our YouTube video interview with Ben: https://youtu.be/YFyRCDgpOak
What else drives him?
“It’s just seeing the satisfaction of winning, I have a really great coaches: Jason Marquiot and Victor Morales, Sr., and a great mentor with professional boxer Victor Morales, Jr. who attended Union High School,” said Ben. “He has 13 wins, 7 knockouts, and he’s shown me how to keep pressing forward.”
Ben is satisfied with the personal development, which Tim said is hard to see day to day, but comparing past videos makes it more clear.
Coaching is about learning the basics: straight punches, feet work, how to move, your reaction time, learning learn how to counter. There are lots of workouts, hitting the bag, shadow boxing.
“There’s a group that trains together,” said Ben. “There’s a big group. We have 25 people there, and five or six of them are competing, while others are there to just work out. I really saw that when I first started, then I saw others getting trophies, and belts and wins. There’s a lot of self-motivation. At home workouts, I shadow box at the gym, so here I do jump ropes and running, push ups, sit ups.”
“When I’m done with a tough opponent, a lot of times I feel like I’m gonna throw up. A lot of time I’m really gassed which is why we don’t have two fights in one day.”
Last year, Ben competed in the 13-14 year bracket at Nationals in Kansas City, Missouri. There are eight regions that meet at Nationals. USABoxing.org is the governing body for all the amateur tournaments.
“I want to win Nationals, just one step at a time,” he said. “It’s a very mental sport, and you try to figure out how to punch and control your anger.”