Boxer trades gym for mom’s house to train for Olympics

Japan 2020

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — Joe Hicks has a new normal.

He had already made the U.S. Olympic boxing team and was preparing for the qualifying tournament when coronavirus derailed the Tokyo Games, originally supposed to be held this summer. The games have been rescheduled to next year, which leaves Hicks — and other Olympians — working hard to stay in shape so they try to pick up where they left off.

For Hicks, that meant moving back home from Lansing, where he lives with his wife and daughter, to his mother’s house in Kentwood. Why? She has a treadmill.

“My new best friend,” Hicks joked about the machine.

If he wants to be fighting-ready, he’s got to run and the treadmill’s the safest option.

“The more I go outside, the bigger risk I get of having (coronavirus),” Hicks said. “I’ve been reading on it. I read the virus can have long-lasting damage to your body once you get it and I want to prevent that as much as possible.”

So he stays inside, running on that treadmill and training in the basement. It’s a big adjustment from being surrounded by trainers, coaches and teammates.

“You’ve got to find motivation somewhere. I’m self-motivated, but I do find days where it’s the same thing over and over again,” he said. “But I always think, the competition didn’t stop. When the world stopped, it didn’t stop just for you, it stopped for everybody.”

His biggest source of external motivation is his new workout partner: his daughter Ariel, age 4. He made a promise to take her to Japan for the Olympics, which made the decision to put off turning a pro until after the games easy.

“I’m not in boxing for the money, it’s strictly for the love. Of course, a nice paycheck would be awesome,” Hicks said. “I feel like anyone that decides to go pro, you still have to wait because nothing is being done with this coronavirus anyway. So by the time you do fight, I’d be like, man, I should have stayed on the Olympic team.”

Until the gyms are open again, Hicks will keep putting the miles on the treadmill, with which he is well past a love-hate relationship.

“I don’t think it’s any love,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any love left.”

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