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Boxingwood: Cheyenne McKinney’s heart has always been with boxing

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Cheyenne Mckinney was a 17-year-old high school student when she first got into boxing.

Her grandfather, who Mckinney said filled the role of her father, died in 2008. Mckinney then turned to boxing when her friend Orlando Hawkins invited her to try it out.

“(Hawkins) was known for boxing; he was like a champion,” Mckinney said. “He was like, ‘You need to come to the gym and try it out.’ I was like, ‘What? I don’t know anything about boxing.’

“But I came and I loved it.”

Mckinney quickly became infatuated with boxing, but it went beyond the sport. Her coach, Keith Reed, made all the difference.

“It was even more of a connection with him, coming to the gym,” Mckinney said. “ He really cared about me. It was just that bond. You never really expect a bond like that with a coach, no matter what the sport is. It was just, ‘Wow, he’s feeding me, he’s making sure my mom’s good.’”

Reed stepped into that father role for McKinney and had a lasting impact on her, which made boxing all the more special.

That was in 2008. But boxing never left her system.

Mckinney originally moved to Greenwood to learn the insurance industry from her friend, Keith Ewing, a Farmer’s insurance agent in the district. Ewing had some free space and offered Mckinney a new opportunity: the chance to open a boxing gym.

From there, Mckinney took that space and started Cheyenne’s Boxing Gym, which she owns and operates and doubles as the coach.

“I’m so blessed to have been in the game as an owner,” Mckinney said. “March 2021 will be two years. Can you believe it? I cannot believe it.”

When she first opened up the gym, Mckinney struggled to find students. In fact, she had a whopping zero people join through the first six weeks.

But as she lowered prices, attracted more people and started to gain traction, her business began to thrive.

Now, Mckinney said she takes pride in educating her students. And it goes beyond boxing.

“To see them work with one another, see them achieve their fears — because there’s a lot fears in boxing such as intimidation, building up courage and confidence — there’s so much that I’m building into these people that come see me,” Mckinney said. “When I see them, little by little, achieving or excelling in certain areas, that makes it highly rewarding.”