EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

January 28, 2014

Point guard turns puncher

North Andover's O'Connell gunning for Lowell Golden Gloves title

You can imagine Tommy O’Connell tonight in the locker-room before his Lowell Golden Gloves championship bout ...

“So, I was in my Forensic Psych class this morning and the topic of extreme political idealogy and its influence on the forebrain came up.”

You just don’t see the boxing crowd engaging in that one do you?

And here in lies the amazing dichotomy of O’Connell, a 21-year-old former Eagle-Tribune Super Team point guard out of North Andover High and currently a senior at Roger Williams College. Tonight, he puts the books down long enough to fight for the Lowell Golden Gloves novice middleweight championship under the direction of Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club trainer Ray Hebert.

“Let me tell you. there’s no comparison to fighting at the Lowell Auditorium in sports. I’ve fought in other places, played other sports in different venues my whole life,” said O’Connell, a marketing major in his final semester at Roger Williams. “Lowell and the Gloves are simply a totally different world.”

Out of boredom at school, O’Connell joined a boxing gym down in Rhode Island, but he didn’t get too serious until he met up with Hebert and the folks at the Haverhill club.

“It’s just a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I mean, you have to be ready to take a punch to give a punch,” said O’Connell. “You see kids coming into the gym all the time. They train for a week, and then once they spar, you never see them again. You have to have that certain toughness to box.”

Growing up in North Andover, that toughness isn’t really asked for on a daily basis.

“I never got pushed around,” said O’Connell. “But I was able to hold my ground.”

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