Bud Crawford is the mentor of a young fighter who “reminds me”.

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – As the fighters hit their stride one recent night at B&B Sports Academy, its co-owner, welterweight boxing world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, stepped into the mix, interacting with pros and pros alike. amateurs. He coached boxers at the North Omaha gymnasium, teased them, cajoled them, encouraged them.

He occasionally glanced at Reno Busby, 11, a nationally ranked American boxing bantamweight. Busby’s coaches – and Crawford himself – believe the sixth-grader at Davis Middle School may have the talent to take the sport far.

But that night Busby had another job. No boxing. Instead, clean the entire gym. And look.

“His grades are a little down, so he has to come in here and watch everyone practice while he cleans up,” Crawford said. “He has a job to do. This is his punishment.

Most Nebraskan sports fans know that Bud Crawford is an undefeated 38-0, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today, one of the best athletes this state has ever produced.

Many are unaware that Crawford had a mentor, the late Midge Minor, who taught him boxing and life during Crawford’s rise from promising amateur to icon.

Now Crawford is trying to befriend young fighters, as Midge has befriended him. One of the young fighters who caught his attention: Reno Busby.

It means investing time in your young protégé. It’s time to talk and have some fun. If the Champion learns that Busby is in a bad mood, he will arrange to take her to his home, where Busby is playing video games and spending time with the Champion’s young sons.

“I put him under my wing and showed him the ropes,” Crawford said of Busby. “I’m just taking this time to clear my mind of boxing and be like a big brother figure in his life.”

Busby’s mother, Jache Thompson, enrolled him in the Crawford Open Gymnasium at 3034 Sprague St. when Busby was 8 years old.

Crawford saw that the boy was at the gym every day. Rain or sun. Heat or snow. He always wanted to get in the ring and train. If a group of children of Busby’s age showed up, Busby would quickly become the leader of that group.

It reminded Crawford of someone.

Leo Adam Biga / Free press in still water

Reno Busby, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Davis Middle School, is a nationally ranked young fighter. He benefits from training at the North Omaha gymnasium from boxing champion Bud Crawford and mentoring from Crawford himself.

“He reminds me of me. His consistency, his ability, his desire to win, his attitude, ”Crawford told the Flatwater Free Press. “If he’s in trouble, his mother will come and let us know he’s hurting at school or doing silly things.”

“Reno is a good boy. I try not to hit him too hard or scream. I’m just trying to talk to him about doing things differently. That you don’t have to take an attitude or get angry and break down. There are other ways.

Busby lost his father to violence. Reno Busby Sr. was stabbed to death in 2011 during an altercation with members of his family. Boxing responds to a need for an extracurricular structure, male role models and an outlet for anger issues.

Crawford said he can relate to a difficult young life after growing up in poverty in the same neighborhood. He came of age as gang life became a rite of passage for classmates, neighborhood children, and friends. Temptations and threats surrounded him. Crawford believes a gunshot wound to the head he suffered as a young adult put him on a different path that ultimately led to boxing stardom.

B&B super middleweight contender Steven “So Cold” Nelson grew up with Crawford. Now he sees Busby as the champion’s “mini-me”.

“When the gym doors open, he’s there,” Nelson said of Busby. “Even when he’s not practicing, he’s there watching, soaking up everything.”

Busby’s mother, Thompson, is thrilled to be having a positive influence on her son’s life. Before boxing, she involved him in karate. At the age of 8, she felt that her behavioral problems called for another structured activity.

Enter Boxing, Crawford and B&B Sports Academy.

Busby didn’t take it at first. Not before, as he said, “I get it. “

Once he got over his initial frustration, she said, “you could immediately see changes in Reno.” She likes that, among other things, sport provides travel opportunities and learning experiences.

“Boxing is something Reno loves to do. He is so dedicated and determined that Reno gives everything, ”said Thompson. “I let him try other sports but he’s like ‘Mom, this is where I’m supposed to be, this is what I’m supposed to do.”

What do you love most about boxing, Reno?

“Winning belts,” Busby said.

Not doing business has recently sidelined him.

Sometimes Crawford said, “We make him clean the gym,” teaching that there are consequences in not doing the right thing. When Busby chomps on his way back into the ring, Crawford sees himself. “This is how I was.”

The boxing champion appreciates that Busby’s mom trusts the gym to discipline her son. “She supports him a lot, but she also supports the gym.”

Harsh love is one thing from her, he said, “but it’s different from the men you admire.”

Thompson thinks the confidence is well deserved.

“It’s more than just a gym. It’s literally a boxing family, ”said Thompson. She has noticed positive changes in her son.

“I see him calmer, more patient. I totally see growth. It’s a great experience. In fact, I am preparing my son for success.

Crawford Photo 3.jpeg

Leo Adam Biga / Free press in still water

Busby with his mother, Jache Thompson. Thompson, worried about Busby’s lack of male guidance, enrolled Busby in B&B Sports Academy at the age of 8. She thanks Crawford and the academy coaches for helping Busby stay calm and develop his patience.

Busby is always prone to act with temper tantrums and anger issues. Poor academic progress and demeanor led coaches to steer clear of a recent national tournament. How he reacts can determine how far he will go in the sport.

“Reno is on the right track to doing good things,” Crawford said, “but it’s just that he’s so young right now and he hasn’t even encountered half the distractions that will come when he gets older. . “

Busby will want to try other things, Crawford thinks. He will want to go out with him. He may want to spend his time elsewhere than a hot gym all day.

“This is where it goes most,” he said. “This is where you start to understand a lot about yourself. That’s when it’s really going to show what it’s made of.

B&B coach Hugh Reefe believes in Busby’s potential, but has also expressed concern that the boy straddles a dangerous line between influences from home and those from the streets.

No one wants to see him swinging in the wrong direction, Reefe said. All it takes is a bad choice. That’s why Reefe, Crawford and Co. form a village with her mother to try and make the right choices.

Crawford knows that having Midge Minor in his corner has helped him become a champion. It wasn’t just about studying boxing, either. It was becoming an affirmation that it mattered.

“I want to be the world champion,” Busby said.

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, he’s got the champ to remind him, as Crawford did one day recently: “It only comes with work and sacrifice.”

Crawford can only take him so far. The rest, he thinks, belongs to Busby.

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