When Tomas Smith decided to take a shot at losing weight, he put on the gloves, dropped the pounds and developed a passion for boxing that earned him a collegiate heavyweight title.

Smith’s goal to shed the fat and get in shape began when a high school friend brought Smith, who weighed in at a hefty 260 pounds, to the Gamache Boxing Gym in Lewiston.

The 6-foot-3 Syracuse University junior, who remains a member of the gym, turned to boxing to keep himself in shape at school. He eventually joined Syracuse’s boxing club his freshman year.

“I played a little bit of JV football, but I was actually very overweight until I started boxing at Gamache’s gym,” the chemistry major said. “Boxing is definitely a fun way to get in shape.”

Smith is still hammering away at the speed and heavy bags. He honed his fisticuff skills to capture the heavyweight national title at the collegiate level on April 11 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Smith took down University of Florida fighter Robert Young to win the title bout.

“I won the fight by decision. It was a pretty close fight,” Smith said. “I’d say I won the first round, he took the second, and then I came back to win the third. In my corner between the second and third round, my coach made it clear to me that I needed to just go forward and let my hands go, so that’s what I did. I think my speed gave him a hard time and allowed me to win the round.”

And the weight? That went down, too. He won his title at slim 201 pounds. At one point, Smith weighed in at a svelte 189 pounds in last year’s boxing tournament, where he finished second.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to compete so when I got to school, I wanted to see if they had a competitive team, so that’s when I started competing,” Smith explained. 

Boxing became a club sport after a tragedy occurred in a college bout more than five decades ago.

“In about 1960, someone died in the ring so they kicked boxing out of the NCAA, so now it is just at the club level and it is under an organization called USIBA (United States Intercollegeiate Boxing Association) — and that is what boxing under,” Smith explained.

Smith was referring to University of Wisconsin junior Charlie Mohr, who died right after fighting San Jose State’s Stu Bartell.

Smith is now president of Syracuse’s boxing club and performs most of the administrative duties for the team.

Gamache Gym boxing coach Scott Frost is proud of just how far Smith has come in the sport.

“Am I surprised?” Frost asked rhetorically. “No, because he always showed a very hard work ethic and dedication to the sport from the first time he ever came down.”

Smith never entered the ring as an amateur while training at the Gamache gym.

“He was still developing his skills and was almost ready for us to start looking for fight when he graduated high school and went on to college,” Frost said. “I was absolutely thrilled that he carried it on at Syracuse. That is great.

“He is a great kid. When he first started coming down to the gym, I remember him walking in with a couple of his friends, and he was kind of big kid, kind of heavyset, but he never let anything stop him no matter how hard we pushed him. He always responded and did everything he could,and you saw the weight coming down and the dedication picking up. He is just a great kid. I wish I had 10 like him.

“I am looking forward to seeing Tomas this summer and continue as his coach,” Frost added. “I think he has one more year of college at Syracuse, so hopefully, he can go back to back with a national championship again.”

Smith said he never entertained thoughts of becoming a pro. His first priority is to obtain a PHD in chemistry and find a job in the pharmaceutical industry.

“No, it is a time filler, a fun way to stay in shape, especially during school,” Smith said. “I will always be involved in the sport no matter what because I love it, especially like a gym like Gamache’s. It’s like a family.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: