In a small, white-washed conference room huddled in front of a MacBook on an elongated rosewood desk, two warriors’ worn and torn bodies sit side by side ready to watch a video of their lone bout in the quest for boxing’s Golden Gloves.

The video’s audio and visuals briefly cut in and out, with a buzz, before two boxing silhouettes emerge in the middle of a ring surrounded by 7,000 screaming fans at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

Another 30,000 to 40,000 fans watched the fight on their cable televisions that night nearly 30 years ago.

Seymour’s Steve Wilson, one of the boxers in the ring that night, has never seen the video. Terry Ray of Terre Haute was the other.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]

Round 1.

Wilson stands ready to attack and hit then golden-haired Ray.

Both men are in peak condition, with their muscles exploding from their chests and arms.

“Look at Steve; he’s ready to come out and kill me,” Ray laughed as the fight commenced. “He’s not knowing what he’s getting into yet.”

The bell rings, and Wilson goes right at the future world champion with a right hook.

“You fought like a man. You came right after me,” Ray said. “Look how muscular we were. We went at it. See that hook I caught you with? I rocked you.”

“Oh! You got me back,” Ray said.

Wilson’s smaller 6-foot, 165-pound frame fails to reveal his true power.

“The crowd is pumping me up,” Wilson said. “Bam! I felt that one. I got to start punching. I watched him fight and pick his opponents apart, but I wanted to outhustle him.”

Following three minutes of outright war, the two return to their corners.

Round 2.

Ray has the slight edge, but Wilson won’t go down. He promised his three kids a fight, and that’s what they’d get.

Ray, however, wants to put this one away and starts cracking at Wilson with his longer reach.

“Right now, I’m hurting him,” Ray said after throwing a punch into Wilson’s right pec. “Steve kept fighting back. I knew he was still dangerous.”

Ray has the edge heading into the final three-minute period, but Wilson’s bulldog-like mentality presses on.

Round 3.

Two minutes of unadulterated sparring.

“I thought I was a little bit ahead, and I would finish it off if I could,” Ray said. “But Steve was strong and kept fighting back.”

“Wham! Right hand!”

Wilson slows down, stunned, and Ray gets the decision with about 10 seconds left on the clock.

Ray went on to win the coveted Golden Gloves title and the “Golden Boy” award, and Wilson earned the “crowd pleaser” title.

“I’m so proud of myself I didn’t back down,” Wilson said after watching the video. “He kept rocking my world. I remember when I got up and went down through the ropes and thinking, ‘I can’t even move.’”

The two exchange sentimental smiles as the video ends.

“It’s amazing to me we’re friends,” Wilson said. “It’s amazing we battled each other like that. We respected each other.”

For the first time since 1986, the 55-year-old Wilson and Ray, who is 51, met in person at a boxing reunion last month.

“I hadn’t seen him in 30 years,” Ray said. “They kept calling me to go to the boxing reunion, and I finally went this year. I never thought I would see him again. I admired the guy, and to just reminisce, it was kind of cool.”

Wilson agreed.

“It was a cool experience to run into him at the hall of fame banquet and be associated with the guy,” Wilson said. “It was a David and Goliath story, and my stone hit him and bounced off.”

Wilson, who won the novice division in 1980, returned to the ring after a four-year hiatus from boxing.

Before his break, Wilson had a record of 18-1 and was considered one of the next up-and-coming boxers.

Wilson’s family, however, came first, and he decided to not go on to box professionally as his personal life faced new challenges.

“In 1982, they sent me out to Muhammad Ali’s amateur camp in Santa Monica, California,” Wilson said. “I was going to be doing what (Ray) did, going on a boxing tour. I would have gone to 11 countries in 12 months. I had a wife and a baby, and they were going to put them up in a place and give them $200 a month in California. She was pregnant with my second baby.”

Wilson’s then-wife later left him, and he raised his kids on his own.

“I looked at the schedule and thought, ‘My kid wasn’t really growing up,’” Wilson said. “I couldn’t dump my pregnant wife and child or have them live with my mom and dad. I went on to make no money as an amateur. I had to turn it down. She had the third baby and left after the third baby, but I did the right thing. Mom’s back in the picture for their lives now, though.”

Had he stayed in Santa Monica, Wilson could have gone on to box in the Olympics.

“It was my big chance to go somewhere,” Wilson said. “(The coach) there was a world champion and my best friend while I was there. I was over for three weeks, and my coach went and sat me down and asked what I was fighting in. I was 165 pounds and had trained so hard I had gotten down to 156. USA would go around fighting different countries on the Wide World of Sports one Saturday a month. The coach went on to coach for the Olympics. They were training me for the Olympics, but I wasn’t getting paid anything.”

Despite all of the turmoil, as a single father of three, Wilson decided to return to the ring for his kids.

“I came back to fight (Ray) for my boys,” Wilson said. “I wasn’t without opportunity in my career. (Ray) went on to make a big splash, and I went to watch him on TV.”

At the time of the bout, Ray had won 95 of his 104 fights and boxed professionally. Ray went on to win numerous world championships after Golden Gloves.

“Most people wouldn’t even think about stepping in the ring with this guy. He would have put you out,” Wilson said. “I remember being so confident that I can outhustle him. Nobody had ever put me down like that.”

Ray had the footage from the fight and keeps a collection of his most prized contests.

“People don’t understand that you have to go through fights like this,” Ray said. “We call them ‘ringers’ because you can take them for granted. I never took (Wilson) for granted. I knew he really wanted it. He damn near rocked me. If I wasn’t in shape, he could have had me in a lot of trouble.”

Now that the two have reunited, they plan on spending more time together. Wilson owns a body shop in Seymour, and Ray is retired in Terre Haute after living in New York and various other states.

“That’s the thing about boxers — we’re a tight fraternity,” Ray said. “People think of it as a violent sport. (Wilson) was one of the few cases I admired because he was humble. Look at Steve — he raised a family and is a good guy. You’re a regular guy, but you box for a living or as an amateur. He did a hell of a job, he’s a great fighter, and I have a lot of respect for him.”

While he never got to become a professional, Wilson doesn’t regret his decision.

“I went on to be a champ in a different way,” Wilson said. “I got to raise some awesome kids who became successful.”

No posts to display