Going back to a gold glove
Bowers rediscovers his passion for boxing and becomes an unlikely champion

WINDER - It's the kind of story you would expect to see in a movie.

A man loses his father and quits the sport of boxing. Years later, his son takes up the sport and the passion to hit someone that was once gone is back. Past his prime, the man competes in the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. Nearly twice the age of many of the fighters, he's unsure if he should even compete.

Except this tale is less Rocky Balboa in "Rocky" and more Jim Braddock in "Cinderella Man" - it's a real life story about Auburn resident Travis Bowers, an unlikely Golden Gloves champion.

Bowers began boxing at the age of 5 under the tutelage of his father Robert, a former boxer who taught him how to be a strong fighter.

"My dad focused more on the toughness," Bowers said. "He wanted me to be tough. He didn't want me to fear any man or body in the ring. I think that's what helps me out."

Then when he was 8, his father died of a heart attack.

With no one there to show him how to throw a jab, avoid a punch or take a hit, Bowers gave up boxing.

"He died and I just stopped boxing," Bowers said. "I went off and on until the age of 13, 14, but I didn't enjoy it as much."

For the next 16 years, Bowers never stepped into the ring. When his son Robert - Travis named him after his father - turned 5, he started sending him to boxing classes.

It wasn't until John Trigg started training his son that Bowers got the passion to box again.

"I came in one day and my wife said, 'You know your son is in here sparring and he looks like a little professional,'" Bowers said. "I was really amazed with the way (Trigg) coached, so I was hooked."

"(Bowers) wanted to do it, but his excuse was he wanted to get in shape and lose some weight," Trigg said. "And then when he started getting things down, it was like, 'Wow, I think I want to do this.'"

The two opened a gym, Off the Ropes Boxing in Winder, and Trigg started training Bowers more frequently. A boxer himself with more than 50 fights under his belt, Trigg worked with Bowers for over a year before he competed in the Golden Gloves tournament in March.

The Golden Gloves is one the most prestigious boxing tournaments around for amateur fighters. Most of the fighters at the tournament were nearly half as old as the 32-year-old Bowers, which caught some people by surprise.

"The ref, he goes 'You're not supposed to fighting in this are you? You should be fighting in the masters.' It kind of really bothered me a little bit," Bowers said.

But his age didn't hold him back.

Bowers won his first fight of the tournament in the first minute when his opponent's corner threw in the towel.

In his second fight, he used Trigg's advice to secure another win.

"He was a big reason why I won the Golden Gloves," Bowers said. "I remember when I got in the corner he said the 1-2 is going to take care of this guy, so I mixed it up a little and started hitting him with the 1-2's a little and started realizing that's what's going to win the fight."

By the end of the third and final round, Bowers knocked his opponent down. He was able to get up, a little wobbly and dazed, but Bowers wasn't finished.

"John told me to jump on him and I did, but the bell rang seconds later," Bowers said. "I knew then when I knocked him down that I won the fight."

When he was officially declared the winner by decision for the light heavyweight division, that's when the emotions took over.

"I just know that my dad would be proud," Bowers said.

And so was his family and trainer.

"I think the biggest thing is the dream came true," Trigg said. "Not just for him, but it was something his dad wanted him to do. For me and especially for him when he won, I just get choked up thinking about it. It was very emotional. I'm proud of him."