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Miller offers opportunities for youth in Columbus


Jamila Thompson, Special to The Dispatch



When Geboria Mayfield started with Oliver Miller 20 years ago, she didn''t realize she could be a great boxer. 


Miller has been a role model to her most of her life and has helped her become the person she is today. 


Through all the things she has faced in life, Miller always has been there to lend a helping hand. 


"I didn''t grow up with my father, so he (Miller) was like a father to me," Mayfield said. "If I had a problem or needed to talk about anything, he was always there."  


On College Street, Miller, the owner of Miller''s Tae-kwon-do, provides lessons in confidence, self-control, and discipline to many in the area. 


For more than 30 years (14 in his hometown of Columbus), Miller has been teaching boxing, kickboxing, and karate, laying the foundation for many children and young adults. 


Recently, Miller began renovating and expanding his gym to make it compatible for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and U.S.A. boxing. The move is designed to allow Miller an opportunity to help Miller be a positive role model to more children and adults -- like Mayfield. 


"We needed more space and we needed more people working on the same things so we can have more room and more space for everybody to work on the same techniques at the same time," Miller said. 


Miller hopes to have more people, mostly teenagers, show interest and attend classes. 


Miller also is looking for sponsors to help pay for classes for students who might not be able to afford them. He realizes giving children a worthwhile and physically challenging activity will keep them off the streets and give them something positive to work on. 


"We can at least help some kid to better himself and to keep them out of trouble," Miller said. "That''s our biggest concern, focusing their energy on something positive."  


Miller will be a part of something special today, when the U.S. Olympic medalist Deontay Wilder comes to town in an effort to promote his professional boxing career. Wilder is scheduled to fight in the coming months at the Trotter Convention Center. 


Miller, who started as a boxer more than 30 years ago, has grown from a student to an instructor. He has worked with withWilder indirectly in the past.  


Miller''s gym has become a stomping ground for the young and old. Many of Miller''s students are 4 to 7 years old. He starts working with children early, instilling principles and values that are helpful to them later in life. 


He also delivers martial arts skills to many, especially youth in the community. He has been teaching the sport since the 1970s. 


A lot of his students have gone far in boxing and in the martial arts. 


Miller''s son, Shannon, who is a professional boxer and kickboxer, was a student. Miller also works with Mayfield, who has been a student since she was 4. She started with karate and moved into boxing and kickboxing. 


Recently, Mayfield won a fight in Oklahoma City and had the opportunity to meet Sugar Ray Leonard. 


Not only has she been a winner inside the ring, but she has had success outside of it. She continue to hone her boxing skills while taking classes at Mississippi University for Women. She is a criminal justice major. 


"Everything kind of balance itself out with boxing and school," she said. "I go to school during the day and train at night." 


Not only has he helped his students accomplish a lot in their lives, Miller also has accomplished many things. He is an eighth-degree black belt. In 1978, he won the state Golden Gloves. He then went on the win the Gulf State Championship and was inducted into The Mississippi Black Belt Hall of Fame. 


However, his greatest accomplishment is reaching out to the children in the community and helping them become better people in life.  


"If it wasn''t for him a lot of kids would be out doing illegal things and getting into trouble, Mayfield said." "If it wasn''t for him they wouldn''t be the people they are today." 




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