Pro boxer Kevin Walsh visits Brockton’s Angelo School

BROCKTON − Professional boxer Kevin Walsh was once a fifth grade student at Raymond Elementary School in Brockton, thinking he’d grow up to be a baseball player.

“I grew up with a whole bunch of Brockton kids, athletic kids,” he said to a cafeteria full of fifth graders at Angelo Elementary School on Thursday. “Even though I was small, I was tough in fifth grade.”

Growing up in Brockton, Walsh looked up to fighters like Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Rocky Marciano, and his father was one of his “most important role models,” he said. Then, his father died when he was 16.

“That was a huge obstacle that I had to overcome,” he said as he started to get choked up.

After losing his father, Walsh got into trouble with the law and ended up in prison. He told the crowd of roughly 175 students that he would sit in his jail cell thinking to himself, “What would my father want me to do?”

“I stopped hanging out with the wrong crowd, started at the boxing gym,” Walsh, now 31, said. “I didn’t want to end up in jail my whole life, so I turned to boxing.”

In his first ever amateur fight, he knocked out his opponent in the first round. Over the next five years, Walsh competed in over 50 amateur fights, had 14 knockouts and earned three Rocky Marciano championship belts.

Now as a pro, Walsh is undefeated with a record of 13-0, and six of those wins ended in a knockout. He’s earned two New England championship belts in three years that were displayed on the stage of the Angelo School cafeteria.

“Kevin is a poster child for turning things around and doing the right thing,” said Angelo School Principal John Kelly, who used to teach Walsh when he was in fifth grade.

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Brockton natives ‘having success and giving back’

Throughout this school year, Kelly has brought in former Brockton students who are fighting for success and chasing their dreams to speak with current students about their journeys.

In March, AJ Dybantsa, a top high school basketball prospect in the nation, spoke to Angelo students about his basketball career. Dybansta attended the Davis School and is now a senior at Utah Prep. According to Kelly, he could be the No. 1 NBA draft pick someday.

Each speaker that Kelly invited to meet with students grew up in Brockton and went on to become a success story.

“It’s about these former Brockton kids giving back,” Kelly said. “It’s Brockton kids that look like them having success and giving back.”

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For Walsh, he said he wants to give back to his community one day by building a boxing gym in Brockton to train the next generation. He said within his next seven fights, he’ll “really put Brockton on the map.”

“It’s a legacy, it’s a history and it feels good to be representing Brockton,” he said.

Former Angelo School students Samson Okunlola, Samuel Okunlola and Ademola Faleye returned to their elementary school in May to talk to students about the importance of academics. They play football at the University of Miami, the University of Colorado and Michigan State, respectively, and hope to be drafted by an NFL team.

Alexandra Giannaros, a former student at Kennedy Elementary School, visited the Angelo School in May. She talked about her journey going from a student in Brockton to the captain and starting point guard for the Boston University women’s basketball team.

Kelly said he wants to continue these talks with successful Brocktonians every year and plans to bring in more than just athletes.

“School was always No. 1 in my life. It was very important to me,” Walsh said.


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