ALEXANDRIA, Va (WDVM) — From a young age, Troy Isley wanted to be a world class boxer.
“A gold medalist, [and] a world champion in every weight class I fight in,” said Troy.
But before all of that, before competing at Worlds and becoming an Olympian, Troy’s story started as a kid in a tough neighborhood.
“Once he was able to start walking, he was getting into everything,” said Troy’s older sister Marshanika Rich.
“He wasn’t a bad kid, but he was one of them kids who really wouldn’t let nothing slide,” said Troy’s older brother Tevin Isley. “If you did something to him, he was going to get his payback.”
So to keep Troy out of trouble at a young age, they got him involved. He went to the Alexandria boys and girls club down the road from his home. Then the family introduced him to the Alexandria Boxing Club at the Charles Houston rec center. From that point on, everyone was seeing the dedication.
“If you go down there, and you ask any neighbor, they will tell you they’ve seen Troy walking each day going to that gym,” said Alston Waller, Branch Director at the Alexandria Boys & Girls Club. “Monday through Friday, you would see Troy walking to that gym from either here or his house going to that gym.”
“He kept coming, and he didn’t quit,” said Marshanika Rich. “Once he started getting really good at it, he looked forward to being a world champ, and going to the Olympics.”
Being a good boxer is one thing, but being a world class boxer, like Troy wanted to be, took sacrifice.
“He has sacrificed so much,” said Chrystal Butler, Troy’s cousin. “He sacrificed a social life for boxing, and it’s because it is what he wanted to do.”
“He missed his prom, he missed his graduation,” said Tevin Isley. “He sacrificed that to fulfill his goals.”
“I knew it was hard, but, like I said, just being in here, watching him, he still was able to get it done,” said Marshanika Rich.
And get it done he did. In about a week, Troy, at age 22, will begin competing in Tokyo in the middleweight division for team USA. A feat that not many people can say they have done. And for Troy and his family, it’s even more special.
“It’s amazing to see someone living their dream at such a young age,” said Chrystal Butler. “Because so many of us, we just journey through life and never really get to what we want, and he’s been saying this is what he wanted for years.”
A dream since he was a kid, avoiding all obstacles, all distractions, for that one goal: to be an Olympian. And now for Troy, it’s not just about boxing in the Olympics, but it’s showing the younger kids from Alexandria, that anything is possible.
“We get a lot of troubled kids, a lot of troubled kids have come through these doors,” said Jreffrey Johnson, co-founder of the Alexandria Boxing Club. “Some don’t make it, and it’s unfortunate that some don’t make it. But for someone like Troy, to be an example now. Maybe we can inspire some more.”
“He was definitely able to avoid becoming a statistic because of boxing,” said Butler. “Because where we’re from, people go to jail, not the Olympics. This is an urban area and people go to jail, and people die. That’s why the community is rallying behind him so strong because he’s one of us and he has made it.”
He’s more than just a boxer. Troy Isley is an inspiration, for the entire city of Alexandria.