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Policeman Luis Corps Tosses Hat In The Ring

Applies What He Learns In The Ring To His Police Work


June 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

Miami Beach Police Officer Luis Corps took up boxing on a whim for charity event last year, and won his pro debut last month. The discipline of his chosen professions has helped his performance in each. 'You have to put in the training and all the effort and if something goes wrong theres no one else to blame.'

For his professional boxing debut in mid-May, Luis Corps burst into the ring by shadow boxing and dancing to pounding Latin beats.

He wore a Puerto Rican flag tank top and 'do rag ensemble. The yellow waistband on his red trunks was emblazoned with the motto: ``LUIS CORPS: JUST WATCH.''

The crowd at the Beach Boxing Is Back event at the Seville Hotel saw the five-foot, eight-inch, 168-pound Corps win his first pro fight by TKO in the second round.

The victory proved that with sacrifice and sweat, the 29-year-old Corps can excel as a fulltime Miami Beach police officer and professional boxer.

Corps, a native of Puerto Rico, caught boxing fever last summer after a buddy invited him to enter ''Rescuers in the Ring,'' the annual charity boxing event produced by Miami Beach Mayor David Dermers office and South Florida Boxing Gym that raises money for the Miami Beach Police Athletic League and the Victims Services Center.

By the time Corps scored a second-round knockout in the July 2002 bout, hed fallen in love with the sports one-on-one competition and its parallels with life.

''Its you,'' he says. ``You have to put in the training and all the effort, and if something goes wrong theres no one else to blame.''

Corps soon realized that if he was to gain the skills and conditioning necessary to be a force in the professional ring he would need proper guidance. As fate would have it, he met Orlando Cuellas, a trainer who works out of the South Florida Boxing gym, while the two were working a security detail at the now-defunct club Vanilla Sky.

Cuellas, a former Golden Gloves champion and trainer with 20-plus years experience under his belt, worked with former WBC light heavyweight champion Lou ''Honey Boy'' Del Valle and current USBA light heavyweight champ Glencoffe Johnson, who won the crown last month with an upset over Eric Harding.

Cuellas wont take on a new fighter unless hes convinced theyre serious and have potential, so he put Corps through a series of tests.

He soon found out that Corps could dish out punishment, but could he take it? Did he have that fighting instinct? Cuellas says natural-born fighters instinctively hit back when they get hit, while for others a punch brings out their inner wimp.

''When he got hit,'' Cuellas says of Corps, ``the guy turned into a monster.''

So Corps began to train for a professional bout.

A typical session begins with Cuellas wrapping Corps hands. Next Corps shadow boxes for about four rounds and hits the focus mitts for another four rounds as he works on timing, rhythm, footwork, combinations, retreating and punching. Then its off to the heavy bag for a couple of rounds. Here, Cuellas says, he makes sure Corps has ``the right range and snap to his punches, and that hes finishing to the head when he goes to the body and steps around with the jab when he goes.''

Then he works the double end bag to focus on hand-eye coordination and after the speed bag for another two rounds. To warm down, he jumps rope for about 10 minutes.

''After that we do about 300 crunches and then hes done,'' Cuellas said.

On average, Corps trains upwards of 90 minutes a day five or six days a week. Then he heads to the police station for a 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift four days a week.

Corps says the discipline hes developed by training for boxing has enhanced his effectiveness as a police officer.

''If you dont do that last crunch its going to come back in the fight, and if you dont do your paperwork its going to come back in court,'' he says. ``And the physical conditioning, in case you have to fight somebody or wrestle somebody, helps a lot.''

Corps admits that other Beach officers think hes a bit crazy to take on professional boxing as a second career. ''But they definitely like it, and definitely support me,'' he says.

''It just shows that good karma was at work here,'' notes Detective Bobby Hernandez, Miami Beach police spokesman. ``He did something out of the goodness of his heart to raise money for a good cause and now hes a professional boxer.''

Corps feels lucky to be a part of Cuellas camp, and was in awe the first time he sparred with Del Valle. ''You know hes a champ, and Im in the ring sparring with him,'' Corps says. ``It was really overwhelming at first.''

But its that quality training Corps believes is giving him the edge. Coming into a camp with such good fighters has helped him not only with physical conditioning but also with the mental aspect of fighting.

''Boxing is not only physical,'' Corps said. ``You also have to have a lot of mental strength. Youre going to have ups and downs in a fight and youve got to be psychologically prepared for those ups and downs.''

Corps says his 5-year-old son Luis is his biggest motivation. And, proud of his heritage, Corps feels driven by Puerto Rican fighters -- past and future.

''I feel like I can't let them down,'' he said.

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