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Written by: Billy Splain on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022
When it comes to recruiting, being a multi sport athlete is one of the top traits college coaches look for in a football player. Basketball, wrestling, baseball and track are among the most popular. I’ve even seen several players participate in swimming and the occassional bowler, but for the first time in my experience I’m writing about something I’ve never seen. On the football field, Berwick linebacker Spencer Kishbaugh can hit with the best of them. But it’s in the ring where Kishbaugh is able to deliver an even more powerful blow. Spencer, it appears, is one of the best boxers in the country for his age and weight, in addition to being a consensus All-State linebacker for the Bulldogs.
Spencer’s first belt from his first fight
Spencer tells how it all started.
“So about six years ago my dad, who is friends with Rocky Boxing/Training owner Leo Talanca, we went down to look into working out there. At the time it was just a gym but Leo said he was going to start a boxing program and asked if I’d be interested. I said heck yeah.” They started training about three times a week, Spencer and his buddies, and then Leo asked him if he’d like to compete and Kishbaugh said yes.
“That first bout, I was like 100 pounds and had to get to 90. We worked real hard that week and I made weight.” Three 1-minute rounds later Spencer won his first bout against a golden glove boxer. “The first round I came out swinging like a windmill, that’s where I got that nickname, and I got gassed. I learned a lot from that fight, it taught me patience which translates to the football field.” Spencer has gone on to win 9 more bouts for a record of 10-0.
“When they raised my hand and said I won, it was just the best compliment ever because you know it was my first bout. I trained so hard for it for months. I was just stoked, it was just amazing.”
Boxing is tough
Kishbaugh admitted that his first match was probably the hardest thing he’s ever done in his young life. He says that at 11 years old, “just seeing that audience when I’d peak out before my match. Everybody standing around cheering, knowing all my family and friends were out there, I had butterflies rolling through my stomach.”
Boxing has advantages:
Berwick football coach Mike Bennett sees the advantage Kishbaugh has on the field because of his boxing training. “Our linebackers coach, coach Sheptock, he’s particular and has our kids moving with the footwork and for Spencer it’s just second nature to him.” But it doesn’t come without worries to a coach having a star player that boxes. “DON’T GET HURT, that’s number one!” Bennett quiped about one of his stars in a sport that can bring injuries. “Nothing major has happened and honestly I think boxing is giving him, you know, his toughness, his quick reflexes, just that mental toughness and that mental attitude of never quitting. You know, just go out there and give it everything you got and personally, OK, that’s fine. I will never ever tell something to somebody like, “listen we got we got a chill out”. Spencer knows what’s good for Spencer. Obviously, it has helped him tremendously up to this point” said Bennett.
Kishbaugh also attributes his ability to get away from defenders when lining up at wide receiver. His coach agrees. Bennett says “Offensively Spencer is a great wide receiver/halfback for us. He catches everything that’s around him so his hands are strong. you know. He can get in there and really control a person with his footwork.” Spencer also says the handwork he gets from boxing and the motions to avoid punches also help him get away clean as a receiver and help him to keep his body clean, shed blockers as a linebacker.
Rocky boxing owner Leo Talanca
Now for the accolades. How good a boxer is Spencer?
His trainer, Leo Talanca, a former Berwick Football player and a very good one at that, knows football talent as well as boxing talent. “Spencer, his work eithic is incredible. He never stops working, always moves forward, I wish we had 100 Spencers because nobody would ever have to worry about anything. In addition to being a great boxer, Spencer could some day be an NFL draft pick. He’s that good.”
“At his last fight which was about a year ago, Tim Witherspoon jumped in the ring and said that he (Spencer) would be a world champion boxer, don’t let him do anything else. I said “Tim, he wants to go to college, get a degree and Tim said “I’m just tellin ya that kids a world champion boxer. ” For those of you who don’t know who Tim Witherspoon is, he’s a two time world boxing champion. But that isn’t a decision for Talanca to make. He says he just want’s Spencer to enjoy what he wants to do. “He loves football, he loves boxing. He’ll excell at whatever he want’s to do.”
Photos from training session (by Carla Wolinger)
Parents are important:
Spencer’s parents, Brad and Danielle, play a big role in both his boxing and football careers as does the rest of his family. “My Dad, just anything I can do to work out he’s pushing me, even little things like I when I make a mistake, he’s there to tell me what’s wrong, what’s right. He pushes me day in and day out. My mom’s there to comfort me when I’m going through a tough time, anything, injury, if I’m just not feeling it that day she’ll lift me up, send me a text lift me up, really anything. My brother, my sister, anything I need they have. With all these college visits I’ve been going on, all these tournaments, my brother is just there. It’s just amazing the support I have really from my family and I I owe all of them and I promised them all one day when I make it I’m going to reward them.”
His father, Brad, says one of the toughest things with Spencer playing football and boxing might just be “feeding him!” “But seriously, It’s pretty exciting. I like watching both sports. I just want to see whatever he enjoys. He was pretty split on what he wants to do in the future. I’m proud of him, you can do all you want to raise a kid right but he is going to have to make some tough decisions on his own.”
What does Spencer want?
Spencer says he really wants to go to college and play football for whatever team that will have him. Currently he’s sitting at 11 Division 1 offers. Monmouth, San Diego, Army, Air Force, LIU, Kent st, Bowling Green, Lehigh, Rhode Island, Fordham and Delaware. When his last high school season rolls around this August, he’ll be ready to strap up and hopefully impress a few more schools.
Boxing keeps you in shape:
As for being ready, the training he gets at Rocky Boxing will have him ready. “Coming into camp most kids come in out of shape.” said Bennett. “Spencer is going to walk into that ready to go. Listen, we did a “plank” competition and he held his plank for the whole song of Metallica “fade to black” which I think was like 8 minutes long, OK? And actually our our sophomore, Bo Sheptock, did the same thing.
Says Bennett: “I’m just impressed with his work ethic and what he does down at the football field and just with his leadership role right now with the young guys with getting the guys down to work out, get them on the field and just the way he just the way he goes about training. You can see other guys are taking a look at that and they want to try and get there. These guys and everybody that’s been down there working with Spencer this offseason, I think are in some of their best shapes their lives.”
Spencer says he’s excited for the upcoming season. With a new coach, Bennett, he says things are familiar yet different. “Coach Carm (Defrancesco) was great, we had a great relationship. Coach Bennett is different yet familiar.” Kishbaugh says they have been hitting bags, running drills, had a new sound system installed and they’re getting a new weight room. “Even the little things like new shirts, hats and just the amount of time the staff puts in with us. He says its a “one game at a time mentality”. “Game number one, Southern Columbia. That’s who we want, we actually have the date up on the board in the weight room. That’s all we’re looking forward to. We just want to come out and show what we can do. You know it’s a blowout last year and I can tell you right now that’s not gonna happen this this year. First game, new turf, that’s not going to happen. We put that point across to young kids right away. Then week two we’re going to Valley View, tough game, great athletes. they have great coaches, I respect them a lot but we’re gonna go up there and we’re going to put the work in.”
Spencer’s goals for the 2022 season?
“I definitely want to be All-State again, that’s a personal goal, and just have a winning season. I think we can go all the way. I can see it with the young guys already. we’re down there day in and day out putting the work in. All the young guys, that’s making them have the right mindset. In recent years we’ didn’t really have the right mindset but this year I’m really putting the point across what our goal is as a team and we’re just here to fight and we’re just see how far we can go.”
Will he box while at college?
“I’m not sure, I guess I’ll probably have a talk with my future coaching staff. Right now I’m just going to continue to work hard.
What do you do to relax: watch Netflix
Favorite show on Netflix: I’d say movie and it’s The Irishman
Besides watching TV what do you do to relax: I’m always working now
Name another sport that you enjoy besides boxing: I play basketball
Do you enjoy the outdoors: Oh Yeah
Favorite food? Lasagna
Favorite flavor of ice cream: mint chocolate chip
What kind of car do you like: Cadillac Escalade
What’s your favorite show to watch when you were a little kid: I’m not gonna lie I watched ESPN every single day
Favorite NFL team: Eagles
Favorite college team growing up? Penn State
If someone else picks you? Oh Yeah, that team that picks me for sure, I’m Loyal!
Favorite position to play: Linebacker
Favorite football player: I say Ray Lewis
Favorite overall sports athlete besides a football player: Conor McGregor Tyson Fury
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