Local boxer uses ring to build resilience

Paul Rollins is an associate dean at W&L

LEXINGTON, Va. – An ordinary basement has turned into a boxing training room for Paul Rollins, an associate dean at Washington and Lee University who has always kept an active lifestyle.

"My first love, basketball, was no longer in the cards for me because of degenerative arthritis in my knees and some injuries that made it really impossible for me to play," the 45-year-old Rollins said.

Rather than walk away from sports, he found an interest in boxing. After moving to Lexington a few years ago, he met coaches Larry Hinojosa and Joe Shafer. The two are used to finding people interested in the sport but, Rollins was different.

"I would notice after his practices we would talk and he was recovering like someone younger is recovering. He never complained about anything; came in and he worked really hard," Hinojosa said.

After three months of training, Rollins continued to perfect his craft and expressed interest in competing in a atch.

"In the training we asked, 'Who are you looking at to fight?' and he just threw out there, 'I'll fight someone who has five fights or less,'" Shafer said.

So on July 22, Rollins, nicknamed "The Lawman", stepped in the ring for his first match. His opponent was making his boxing debut, but had prior experience in MMA. Round after round, Rollins showed that his training had paid off and ultimately won his bout in the masters division  by decision.

"What Larry was able to do for me is give me more confidence in my skills and hone my abilities a little bit more," Rollins said.

His story is one of inspiration for people of all ages and setbacks: No matter what life throws at you, be ready to make a defense.

"You know most sports you've played your whole life, you're just trying to slow the decline as you get older," Rollins said.

"I'll never be as good at 45 as I was at 25 playing basketball. But I might be better at 46 boxing than I am now at 45."

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