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Taking their shot

June 25, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

One stands 76 pounds and 4 feet 3 inches tall. The other is almost twice his size.

They bounce around lightly on the balls of their feet in the middle of the boxing ring punching air, not even watching the other. Then they turn and start "boxing" each other.

This isn't a real fight.

Keegan Grove, 9, and Noel Carvajal, 18, are just warming up for their respective sparring matches at Has Been Boxing Club on Prospect Avenue in Hagerstown.

The club has 17 members, most of which are ages 9 to 19, says Johnnie Johnson, boxing club president. The sparring matches, held once a month, build confidence and give the boxers a chance to be aggressive in preparation for their sanctioned matches, which are held twice a year.

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"I started boxing just to get in shape," says Carvajal, of Hagers-town's North End. He weighs 140 pounds, but when he started boxing three years ago he was 3 inches shorter and weighed 180 pounds with 26 percent body fat.

Keegan, of Martinsburg, W.Va., and his brother Zachary Grove, 12, started boxing about a year ago after karate didn't work out, Keegan says.

"We wanted to do hard contact, but the instructor didn't like that," he says.

Before the sparring begins, the gym is already hot and muggy. After warming up with Carvajal, Keegan bends his head down to talk to a reporter outside the ring and sweat pours from under his head gear onto the floor.

Johnson keeps the gym at 85 degrees to help the boxers relax and keep their muscles loose.

The heat doesn't slow the Grove brothers down in the ring.

"We're brothers outside the ring, but when we get inside the ring that all changes," Zachary says.

These photographs were taken at Has Been Boxing Club earlier this month.

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