TOMS RIVER, NJ—Reluctantly giving a pep talk on inner strength before ushering his newest student into the ring, local boxing guru Bill Sweeney told reporters Tuesday that he wished just once he could coach someone who had already fully worked through their childhood trauma. “Christ, I just want to teach people how to box, not be a de facto father figure to disaffected teens looking for a way to escape their broken homes,” said Sweeney, who couldn’t remember the last time he mentored someone solely looking to improve their sparring skills rather than let out years of pent-up anger at a drug-addled parent. “It’s not like I have no sympathy—I do—but I’m spending half my time consoling guys who hit the speed bag until they’re sobbing because their dad used to beat their mom, or sticking around late with a brooding kid begging me not to make him go home. There are therapists for that kind of stuff.” Reached for comment, several of Sweeney’s students said that in an ideal world their coach wouldn’t be using them as pawns to prove to the woman he loved that he was a changed man.

Advertisement