Duncan ready to teach

Matthew Wheaton
Galesburg's Carlos Duncan has been teaching the art of boxing for 50 years.

GALESBURG — The license plates on his car read “Mr. D.”

That’s what the kids Carlos Duncan has taught boxing to over the years — via the Galesburg Youth Athletic Club — call him.

And the 78-year-old — Duncan will turn 79 in August — has missed mentoring Galesburg’s youth and the adults, too.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s been away from them all since mid-March, but that’ll change soon.

Beginning Monday, July 6, the GYAC — located on the fourth floor inside the Weinberg Arcade — will open its doors again, and Duncan is elated about it.

“Our guiding principles or focus will be for the safety of our members, boxers, coaches and families,” Duncan said. “As our governing body, United States Amateur Boxing Inc. has provided us a list of recommendations to help with a safe return to training and decrease the spread of COVID-19, such as preparing the gym and our coaching staff for a safe return.

“These protocols call for specific safety measures to ensure a safe re-entry into our activities,” he added. “They will be done in three phases: Phase 1 is limited participation, Phase 2 is moderate participation and Phase 3 is full participation.”

Duncan, a 1959 Galesburg High School grad, has been involved with boxing since the age of 7, and he’s been teaching the art of the sport for 50 years.

But Duncan does more than just dish lessons about boxing. The words he speaks resonate, and they apply to life.

“I give meaningful information to people that they can relate with,” Duncan said.

Duncan, a USA Boxing certified coach, preaches what he learned from his grandparents, his parents, and a long career in the United States Air Force.

The former Golden Gloves winner spent 29 years serving his country, and for 19 of them Duncan was stationed in Holland. While there, he learned to speak Dutch — Duncan still speaks the language to this day — and he honed his skills as a boxer alongside those who didn’t understand him.

Duncan learned from them, though.

“I learned stamina and outsmarting foes,” he said. “Americans wanted to go for the knockout.”

Duncan is battling cancer for the second time in his life — he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2008 and given three to five years to live — but he’s winning the fight.

Duncan is as spry as ever, and he still hits a bag every once in a while.

“I keep myself in good shape,” Duncan said. “I have a pretty good positive attitude, and I’m helping people. Hopefully, I’ll be around for a while.

“I’ve been coaching since 1970. It’s such a rewarding career.”

It’s one Duncan doesn’t plan on leaving.

“I hope I don’t have to,” he said.

Note: For those interested in the GYAC, one must also join USA Boxing and pay a yearly fee. Youth fitness (8 to 17 years old) non-contact with no sparring must pay $25. For adult fitness, the fee is $35.

Regular competitive boxing fees are the following: 8-10 years old is $62, 11-16 the fee is $67, 17 to 32 years old the cost is $72 and for those 35 and older the fee is $82.

For more information contact Duncan at (309) 299-1606.