By Curtis Carden
When it comes to adversity, David Baxter just rolls with the punches.
Baxter, an Erwin native, participates in competitive running throughout northeast Tennessee and is sponsored by Ledford Funeral Home in Erwin. Even with the fun, and the first place finishes, racing brings to Baxter, it wasnt his sport of choice.
One day I just thought, Hey, I want to box when I was growing up, Baxter said during a recent interview.
While attending Mitchell County High School Baxter ran and wrestled on the schools teams, but he remained interested in boxing and spent 15 years in the ring. A sterling semi-professional career was the result of Baxters hard work; he ended up with a 35-0 record.
The success was there, but there were doubters, Baxter said.
I was the nerdy guy when I first got into it, Baxter said with a laugh. My coach even told me I should quit, but I never gave up and kept training.
A professional contract was on the line for Baxter, until fate decided to throw a haymaker into his plans.
When I was in the Army, I was out one day and was struck by lightning, he said. The incident caused my neurons to mess up, so when I went to the doctor before the match, he explained to me there was no way I could continue boxing.
Instead of staying down for the count, the Army veteran wasnt going to let the circumstances put an end to his athletic career.
Boxing is 75% running, Baxter explained. I knew I wasnt the fastest thing around, but I decided to start training.
Tennessee and the surrounding areas have become a hotspot for running in recent years, with nationally-ranked runners participating in events.
Some of the best courses are around our area, Baxter said. It really brings out some of the best talent from all over.
Once he decided to put down his boxing gloves and put on his running shoes, a rigorous training schedule was ahead for Baxter, who works at the Veteran Affairs office to go with the job at Ledford Funeral Home. He also spends as much time as possible with his wife, daughter and stepchildren.
The training was just part of the fun when it comes to racing, Baxter explained.
I would wake up around 3 a.m. and start training before work, he added. When I get into something, I keep going at it until I can be the best in it.
For the remainder of this article please pick up the June 19, 2012 edition of The Erwin Record.