It wasn’t too long ago that Ken Bigham, a lifelong boxer and coach, decided he wanted to get back in the ring.
“I decided last year in Maui,” he recalled. “My wife and I were at this romantic dinner and I said ‘you know, I’m going to change things up this year. I want to get into the ring. I don’t want to teach I want to compete.’”
The only thing was that Bigham, a Nevada City resident, was now 65 years old.
“At first she thought that I had one too many Mai Tais, but the next morning she realized that I had all this planned out,” he said.
Bigham had been boxing since he was just a boy, and spent much of his adult life coaching the sport he loved.
“My dad got me into it when I was five,” Bigham said. “I was a passive little kid and there was a neighborhood bully that kept picking on me, so I got into boxing and ended up beating him up. And, what I realized through boxing, and I was never a violent person, but if I stayed in boxing people would leave me alone. So all through middle school and high school I kept it going and people left me alone.”
Bigham has had an impressive coaching career throughout his life, but had yet to scratch his in the ring itch.
So, he began training for the 2014 Ringside World Championships in Independence, MO, where he would battle in the Masters Division.
After a rigorous and thorough medical evaluation, Bigham joined 1,700 other amateur boxers at the Independence Events Center.
“There was boxers from all over the world from 8 years old to masters,” he said.
Bigham (6-foot, 1-inch, 180 pounds) entered in the masters light heavyweight division, where he would face athletes that were in a 10 year range and a 10 pound range of his own specifics.
Once at the event, Bigham linked up with Terry Buterbaugh, who runs Old School boxing in Colorado Springs. Buterbaugh would be Bigham’s corner man for the tourney.
Bigham’s first match was a one-sided affair as he won unanimously over an opponent eight years his junior.
“At this stage of the game I had made up my mind that I wanted this badly,” Bigham said. “Nothing was going to stop me.”
The victory put Bigham into the finals against last years masters champion, Malcolm Baker from Sydney Australia.
“I didn’t know he was the defending champ until after and that was probably a good thing,” Bigham said.
Bigham, a lanky boxer said he’s passive aggressive in the ring and likes to use an inside out approach.
Bigham alos prides himself on his knowledge of the sport and had scouted his opponent leading up to the bout.
“The guy from Australia punched like a kangaroo,” Bigham said. “His arms were in and he threw these choppy short punches, and he dropped his hands. I thought there’s my in and thats what I used. A lot of real straight punches.”
Bigham won the final match unanimously, even dropping Baker to his knees at one point.
“Lets it put it this way,” he said. “After the bouts both nights the only thing sore on me was my right arm from hitting them so much.”
One of the keys to Bigham’s victory was his training, he said. Bigham had been training at T-5 Boxing gym with Rocci Twitchell before Twitchell passed away in May, and also worked with Greg Kirkpatrick at the Ringside Gym in Newcastle.
“I didn’t have anybody near my age at Rocci’s or Ringside,” he said. “I’ve been working with 20 and 30 year olds and going three minutes, because I didn’t know the format. My training was over the top, I was barely breathing hard after the one-minute rounds.”
The masters division has three one-minute rounds.
With the victory, Bigham, who is now being called “The California Kid” by his friends and trainers, said he wants more.
“I didn’t really have much of a problem with these guys,” he said. “So, I’m looking to get back in there again at some other tournaments.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.