MANCHESTER -- Ryan Sweeney circled the open area on the ground floor of The Manchester Gym last Friday, occasionally throwing a jab or unleashing any number of combinations on the punch mitts held by his father, Floyd Sweeney.
The exercise is part of a grueling, nearly two-hour workout regimen that Ryan Sweeney, a Manchester resident, engages in three times a week at the gym in preparation for the upcoming Vermont Golden Gloves tournament in Burlington on Jan. 18.
Ryan Sweeney, 20, first began boxing about six years ago. Although his participation in the sport has been sporadic at times, he has been boxing steadily now for the past three years as an amateur in the novice division.
So far he has compiled a record of 2-3 with two knockouts and all of his losses coming by way of the decision -- a couple of which Floyd Sweeney, who introduced Ryan to the sport, indicated could have gone either way.
The six-foot four, 245-pound Ryan Sweeney fights as a super-heavyweight, which is anything over 201 pounds. While he is training for the tournament on Jan. 18, Floyd Sweeney said that Ryan Sweeney is not guaranteed a bout and that whether or not he will have the opportunity to fight will depend on how many people from his weight class are at the tournament. Ryan Sweeney said he will find out if he will be fighting in the tournament -- where his first fight occurred at the age of 16 -- about a week before the tournament is held.
Over the past few months Dan Colegrove has been training Ryan Sweeney for the tournament and said that he is not necessarily attempting to gain muscle mass, but rather attempting to become as quick as possible and increase his stamina.
"That's usually what hurts boxers the most is if they're out of breath a minute or two minutes into the round every round," said Colegrove. "That's the tough part is [having] the cardiovascular and making it the distance of the fight and still feeling good [and] having energy to do what they have to do. It's interesting to watch because they'll do mitt work and punching drills and stuff like that and just 30 seconds of doing that you can tell it winds you fast so we're trying to build that up."
To help with that, Colegrove said he has Ryan Sweeney doing a lot of plyometric and power training and some very difficult cardiovascular workouts so that he can make it through up to the three rounds he may have to fight while continuing to functioning with the same level of intensity.
"It's lots of exercises usually timed so its like 30 seconds to a minute of an exercise as hard as you can go and then short breaks in between. [He] usually [does] whole body exercises and lots of leg exercises," said Colegrove.
The conditioning and training required to compete in the sport are the things that Ryan Sweeney said are among the most challenging aspects of the sport.
"That's the most challenging thing. It feels like a sprint the whole time," said Sweeney. "You only get three three minute rounds so it's all out the whole time."
In the time that they have spent working together so far, Ryan Sweeney said he has definitely notice some improvements.
"He's helping with my conditioning a lot so I'll be able to be stronger for a longer period of time," said Ryan Sweeney. "I definitely feel stronger and my wind, or my stamina, lasts a lot longer. [My] confidence in my ability [has also increased.]"
Floyd Sweeney's knowledge of the sport is something that Colegrove said he has found particularly useful in helping train Ryan Sweeney as this is his first foray into training someone for boxing.
"I haven't worked with a lot of people where there's call for just training for power specifically, which is really what's going to help him the most. Other than building up his cardiovascular it's all power training," said Colegrove. "All these theories and things that I've learned about what to do to build power [I have] to put that into practice. Most of the workouts that I have done [are] just traditional muscle building or weight loss type workouts so it's fun for me to see something completely different and get some experience with it."
If Ryan Sweeney gets the opportunity to step into the ring during the tournament, he said he hopes he does not have to rely on all the stamina that he will have built up prior to the fight.
"Hopefully my fights don't last three rounds," he said. "I'll make it through them all, but hopefully they'll end up stopping it in the second round. That's what I'm going for."