THE TRAIN OF THOUGHT
Boxing has always been seen as a young man sport but in 2009 the Master Boxers proved that age is just a number and they are here to stay. With a hundred and ten pugilists competing at the Ringside tournament, the division’s future seems to be shining brighter than ever.
One of the pugilists that stood out this past year is Dennis Barnicle. The 53-year-old locomotive engineer from Springfield Missouri put on a show to remember as his talent and skill was put on display at 2009 Ringside World Championships tournament. I caught up with Dennis to learn a little more about him and found out what motivates him to step in the ring.
Dennis was raised in a small rural town called Steelville Missouri. Steelville is located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains and is known for the natural resources mother nature has blessed this area with. Farming was a big part of the town and it is here that Dennis began his traits of hard work and dedication.
“I was mostly interested in agriculture, cattle and horses. It was pretty much all there was in Steelville. I played a little basketball in my Junior High days but after that, it was work and school. There were 36 students in my Senior class. That gives you an idea of how small my town was” said Dennis.
He considered his childhood a normal one with some interest in sports such as Basketball and Boxing but growing up in Steelville his interests naturally gravitated towards agriculture and animals. When Dennis started High School, he also started working for a local farmer. His day started by getting up at 5 in the morning, leaving his house by 6 am to feed the farmers animals and then was at school by 8 am. It was a routine that he would follow throughout his High School years and it was here that Dennis learned about dedication, good work ethics, and sacrifice. These are the same traits he now applies in everyday life.
Dennis was 21 years old when he first started working for Frisco Locomotives as a switchman.
“I had two cousins that worked for the railroad in St. Louis, that’s how I got interested in becoming a locomotive engineer”.
Becoming an Engineer can be a challenge and demands dedication. You must get experience. As a locomotive engineer, you need to be familiar with how the locomotive engine works and how it’s built. Therefore you have to start as an apprentice to the machinist or boilermaker. As you move through the various jobs to learn about locomotives you gain the experience to become a locomotive engineer. You also have to complete engineer training, have excellent vision and hearing, and be in good physical shape.
The interest grew as Dennis moved up positions like an amateur pugilist moves up into the pro ranking. The closer he got, the harder he worked like a gym rat perfecting his craft. Though achieving his license would take time with bumps in the road it was a journey he was more than willing to travel. His interest in locomotives became a passion. The sound of the engine was like the sound of the crowd in a championship bout feeding you adrenalin. His work ethics opened the doors while his determination helped him achieve his goal of becoming an engineer.
In 1982 when Burlington Northern Railroads took over Frisco Locomotives, Dennis seized the opportunity to move up and began his schooling at Johnson County Community College and then attended school in St. Paul Minnesota where he completed his Locomotive training and became a licensed Engineer.
Dennis now lives in Springfield Missouri and smiles with pride and joy of his accomplishment. Now 32 years later he is regarded as one of the top locomotive engineers.
I first met Dennis Barnicle at the 2009 Ringside World Championships in Kansas City Missouri. The 6 foot 178 pound slim but ripped boxer was preparing himself for his first match of the Tournament. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience and you all most have to go through it to know what I’m talking about. The process is nerve-wrecking and maybe harder than the actual fight,” Dennis said laughingly.
Though he can laugh now, his opponent wasn’t laughing when he realized he was up against The Springfield Locomotive. It was clear from the start that Dennis was the superior fighter as he rushed his opponent and connected with numerous combinations. He showed discipline and excellent defensive skills as he slipped and dodged his opponents punches only to counter with heavy right hands that pummelled his opponent on to the ropes.
For three rounds Dennis accumulated points and brought excitement to the crowd. His opponent was game and showed no quit in him but it was clear Dennis was the better fighter that day as the referee raised his hand in a unanimous decision victory.
Though a fan of boxing since he was a kid it was until four years ago that Dennis began to box. “There’s a boxing gym here on Commercial St. in Springfield. I drove by there one day and decided to stop by and try it. I went in and they welcomed me with open arms.” Dennis has been training ever since and loving every minute.
His workouts include running 3 to 4 times a week. He works 3-minute rounds at his gym that include working the heavy bag, the mitts, shadow boxing, and sparring. Dennis also works with plyometrics, push ups, pull ups, sit-ups and more. His conditioning is a big key to his ring success as a lot of times he outworks and overwhelms his opponents.
Dennis would be challenged in the Championship bout when he faced Scottsdale Arizona native Geoff Zimmerman. Both men where determined to win but only one would leave with the belt strapped around their waist.
“I thought my fitness would be an advantage for me but Dennis was in just as good of shape as I was” Geoff Z
It was a classic match and a representation of what masters boxing is all about. Both men started off fast with combinations being thrown by both men. The first round was close but Dennis had more of the cleaner punches land and gave him the advantage in the first round.
The final two rounds were to close to call but when the last bell rang it was Dennis Barnicle that was declared the winner and 2009 Ringside World Champion.
It was a long road to success both in and out of the ring but Dennis is an example of what hard work and dedication can accomplish. Loving every minute in the ring, Dennis looks to once again compete at Ringside and the Los Angeles Masters Boxing Camp and Show.
Next stop will be….