By: Charlie Sprang, Trade Media
In a small building next to the basketball courts at the Lawncrest Recreation Center in the Crescentville section of Philadelphia, there is a room that serves as the training base for Ryshine Collins, a young man with big ambition.
This past year has seen Collins embark on two new careers simultaneously. For the past six months, he has been serving an apprenticeship with Local 19, working for SSM, fabricating and installing duct work.
“I didn’t really think about joining (the union) until I was 21” Collins said.” After I got out of high school (Roxborough), I went to college for a year and a half, but it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. My dad (Steven) is in the union and I saw he always had money, he always had cars and he was always able to pay his bills by himself.
“I applied two-and-a-half years ago and they contacted me after I passed my test. I had my interview about eight months later and about a year-and-a-half after that I got my job. I work for SSM. They have a shop at 49th and Grays Avenue. In the shop I work building racks, tying ducts to the racks, and I also work in the field hanging duct. I like working. I like staying active and I like getting my hands involved.”
That last part comes in handy for his second career as a professional fighter. He turned pro in 2018 after 31 amateur bouts and promptly won his first two fights, each by knockout and each taking less than a minute. That is why you can find him at Lawncrest Monday through Thursday evenings shadow boxing in a ring that is well-worn and probably has a few stories of its own to tell, hitting the heavy bag and hitting the pads with his father, a former amateur fighter and a 19-year member of Local 19.
“He’ll do six to eight rounds shadow boxing, six to eight rounds on the heavy bag and four to six rounds on the pads,” explained Steven Collins, who trains Ryshine along with some other fighters.
The room itself is what you might expect in the city which has a long, storied history in the sport. The walls are covered with posters and pictures of fighters from the past. The focal point of the room is the ring and its where Ryshine Collins does his shadow boxing, gliding around the ring snapping jabs and combinations. From there he moves to the heavy bag and it becomes readily apparent where the power originated to knock out both opponents. And then it’s the pads with his father instructing him as they move around the floor.
“My dad was a fighter and he took me to the gym with him,” Ryshine said. “I was kind of a chubby kid and I wanted to lose some weight. But I figured I was good at it so I stayed with it.”
In his amateur career, he won the city and state Golden Gloves title in 2013 and won the city in 2017 but lost in the state championship bout. He had his first pro fight at the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City on September 8, against Lucky Holt, a fighter from Missouri. The junior featherweight bout lasted 57 seconds. “I got the job done early,” he said.
Ryshine’s second fight was also at the Showboat on November 16. That was against Gerald Funderburg and lasted just 30 seconds with Collins knocking him out with a body shot.
“I didn’t even get a chance to use my right,” Ryshine said. “I hit him with a hook to the head and a hook to the body and the body shot knocked him out.”
Naturally Ryshine’s co-workers are aware of his boxing career. His father sold $5000 worth of tickets to his fights in Atlantic City. But Ryshine wants to make it easier for his union brothers to see him fight so they are trying to get a February 8 card at the Local 19 Union Hall approved against an opponent yet to be determined.
“If I have it at the union hall everybody from Philly can make it there to watch,” said Ryshine. “A lot of people made it down to A.C., my dad sold a lot of tickets, but this will make it easier for them.”
Not surprisingly, Ryshine Collins’ goal is to win a world title. He plans to stay active, fighting every two to three months, four or five fights a year. “I just plan to keep fighting, keep working my way up and keep winning,” he said.
He’ll be working his way through his apprenticeship at the same time.