Amateur heavyweight DeWalt Stewart, a friend and high school classmate of 1988 Olympic light-heavyweight champion Andrew Maynard's, learned years ago that there are no shortcuts to a gold medal.
"I thought I was just as tough as Maynard when we were going to Suitland [Md.] High together," said Stewart, now a senior and computer-science major at Morgan State.
"I told his trainer, Pepe Correa, that I could beat Maynard any day of the week. He invited me to the Palmer Park gym to spar with Andrew, and he gave me an old-fashioned butt-kicking."
Older, wiser and considerably stronger, Stewart, 24, took the first small step toward his own Olympic dream at Teamsters Hall last night when he decisioned Rashid Muhammad, unattached, in the South Atlantic heavyweight final.
Stewart, who did not begin his amateur career until he turned 21, wore Muhammad down with body shots in the first two rounds. He came close to scoring a knockout in the final round when a short hook sent Muhammad's mouthpiece flying and he was forced to take a standing eight count.
Stewart advances to the Potomac Valley Regionals at Alexandria, Va., Feb. 7, where he will be matched against the top heavyweights from Washington, Virginia and West Virginia.
"I'm serious now about my boxing career," said Stewart, who found his way to Mack Lewis' Broadway gym last year after pit stops at Hillcrest Heights and the Loch Raven gym.
He came to Lewis as a flabby 265-pound super-heavyweight, but a vegetarian diet and Spartan-like training his left him at a streamlined 210 pounds.
"He's got natural ability, and has shown a lot of dedication," said Lewis, who has worked in the past with heavyweight contender Larry Middleton and with Reggie Gross and George Chaplin, who fought several champions during their professional careers.
A crowd of 500 attended the nine-bout card, but only Stewart needed a victory to advance to the regionals. Already qualified were Mike Thomas (106), Terry Smith (125), Dominick Minguzzi (132), Roger Womack (165) and Courtney Butler (178).
The winners in the regionals will qualify for the nationals in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 24.
90 pounds--Wayne Blunt, Midtown Boxing, D.C., decisioned Andy Glassmyer, Loch Raven Optimist.
112 open--Jose Chacon, Harding & Lowery Gym, decisioned Mike Thomas, Baltimore Boxing Club.
118 open--Jerry Minguzzi, Harding & Lowery Gym, decisioned Derrick Brown, Baltimore A.A.
130 open--Dominick Minguzzi, Harding & Lowery, decisioned Terry Smith, Loch Raven Optimist.
132 novice--Cory Robinson, Champs A.C., decisioned Joe Whitaker, Baltimore A.A.
147 novice--Kenny Blackstone, Baltimore A.A., decisioned Wayne Fields, Loch Raven Optimist.
201 novice--Brian Kimball, Harding & Lowery Gym, stopped John Smith, Eastside Boxing Club, 1:53 of first round.
201 open--DeWalt Stewart, Baltimore A.A., decisioned Rashid Muhammad, unattached.