Athletics, academics and family fuel the future at Southeast boxing gym
Charles “Coach Lev” Leverette named his gym Triple Threat to reflect his Christian faith and the power of the holy trinity.
But on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, when the massive combative-sports facility on the city’s Southeast side welcomes childhood members, the significance of the name tilts slightly. That’s when a trio of tiny titans straps on pint-sized equipment and trains in the art of pugilism.
“That’s the real triple threat,” Leverette, the gym founder and head coach, said with a laugh.
The 4-year-old triplets are among the smallest fraction, stature wise, of the 45 kids between the ages of 4 and 18 that Leverette and a support squad of former fighters, mentors, faith leaders and trainers work with in any given week.
Although the gym is, first and foremost, a safe training space for all ages and skill levels of fighters, it is also a haven for youths who want to learn more about boxing, mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Leverette runs a training program for young athletes that emphasizes academics and citizenship as much as it does sports.
“My daddy used to say, everything I learn I can teach to somebody else.” — Charles “Coach Lev” Leverette, Triple Threat Gym
Academics and athletics
Young students train from 4:30 to 6 p.m. three days per week. But before they step onto the canvas, there are some criteria.
“I tell them ‘no books, no box,’” Leverette said. “That’s the ground rules coming into the gym.
“It all plays into the discipline at school, the discipline at the gym, the discipline at home.”
Leverette is so committed to their holistic success that he has installed a computer lab in the gym’s offices, he collects academic report cards and he keeps a barber’s chair up front for members who could use a little extra grooming. It’s part of a motto that, once again, is trifold.
“Look good, feel good, do good,” Leverette said. “It’s all about the trinity, too. We try to keep it real by these kids. We advise them about life.
“It is a commitment,” he continued. “It is a commitment for all the kids.”
Fighting his way to the top
To learn from Leverette is to be trained by a humble giant.
A native of Brent, Alabama, he found his way to Colorado Springs the same way so many do: via the military. The 46-year-old served 20 years in the Army before retiring as a staff sergeant.
Leverette became an assistant coach to the U.S. Army boxing squad and later the national Olympic team. After much consideration and a good deal of prayer, he opened Triple Threat in 2014.
“When I grew up, my daddy used to say, everything I learn I can teach to somebody else,” Leverette said. “It just kind of snowballed.”
But here’s the thing: Boxing may very well be in Leverette’s blood, but it’s not in his history. This globe-traveling, champion fighter didn’t strap on a pair of gloves until he was in his 20s and a senior officer issued him a high-stakes bet.
If Leverette won an upcoming amateur match, he could go home for a visit. If he didn’t, he had to wash the platoon leader’s car.
“I came from Alabama, where it was all about football, God and food,” he said with a laugh. “I ended up knocking two guys out that weekend.”
Suffice it to say, he got to see his family.
‘He has high hopes’
Triple Threat gym is a coliseum of a place. It features two rings and mats for jiu-jitsu sparring, as well as a weight setup and floor space for cardio and strength training. And it counts among its supporters some of the world’s best fighters, including three-time world champion and reigning welterweight title holder Terence Crawford, national bronze medalist Sammy Vasquez Jr. and Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s welterweight contender Raquel Pennington.
The training team offers classes in everything from traditional and competitive boxing to fitness, self-defense and women’s boxing.
But it is in the youth programming that the Triple Threat team’s hearts, visions and hopes for a stronger future lie.
On a recent Monday evening, while youths practiced on heavy bags, a fighter stopped to correct one boy’s posture. The sweat-soaked pro was Crawford, who was just wrapping up a workout of his own, although Leverette waited until after the training session wrapped to let the student know.
Meanwhile, 14-year-old Savannah Williams sparred with Brianna Amos, 15. The girls were just a few days away from leaving for Reno, Nevada, and the USA Boxing Western Elite Qualifier and U.S. Open Championships. As they skillfully jabbed and crossed, bobbed and ducked, it was clear these were no beginners but highly trained athletes.
Amos said she was drawn to boxing because it requires grit, and to Triple Threat because it mandates heart.
“It’s more of a mental sport than a physical sport,” she said. “You have to work hard and be self-disciplined.”
She gestured to Leverette, who was giving his students a water break. They gathered around him in an eager circle, awaiting the next drill or a word of praise.
“Coach is very involved in the kids,” she said. “It’s hard to find coaches like that. He has high hopes for us.”
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Of boxing and building
Leverette partnered with the Rev. Promise Lee, pastor of Relevant Word Christian Cultural Center, to create and grow the youth mentorship program. Two other veteran fighters — one-time Marine Corps boxer Robert Lozado and former soldier Richard Verdugo —– soon jumped on board.
The partnership brought a wide range of experience and leadership to the table, and Leverette credits its support with growing his vision from an idea to a full-fledged program.
“We want the kids who are struggling at school,” Lee said. “The champions of the world often come from that background.”
And Lozado proudly pointed to a Triple Threat alumnus whose success has led him to the Colorado School of Mines on an academic scholarship.
“He came from here,” Lozado said. “Directly from here.”
Donna Church brought her 7-year-old son, Zion Victoria, to Triple Threat because she felt he needed a strong male role model. What she got after that first visit in 2018 was an extended family.
“He has so many good men interacting with him,” Church said.
“I’ve been blessed in the fact that I’m surrounded by people who have the same goals and morals,” Leverette said. “I was seeing the signs, the signs were right there.
“It’s growing. It’s continuing to grow.”
Who: Triple Threat Gym was founded and is managed by former Army and Olympic boxing coach Charles “Coach Lev” Leverette and is advised by a team of former fighters and mentors including the Rev. Promise Lee, Robert Lozado and Richard Verdugo.
What: Triple Threat offers a wide range of fighting-sports classes and training for all skill levels, and it counts among its supporters some of boxing, mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s top athletes. But its pride is a youth program that mentors youngsters in athletics, academics and family.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
Where: 5709 Observation Court, Suite 120