Williston boxer preps for professional debut11/6/08

Nov. 6, 2008

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

After growing up in Brooklyn, where he first became interested in boxing, 29-year-old James McMillan — King James — is set to make his professional start in the sport Saturday night as part of a boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts program at the Sheraton-Burlington Hotel.


    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
‘King James’ McMillan (right) jogs near his Williston home on Tuesday with training partner Troy Mead.


    Observer photo by Greg Duggan
Williston resident and boxer James McMillan trains in his basement on Tuesday morning. ‘King James’ headlines a series of fights at the Sheraton in Burlington on Saturday.

The program, scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m., was pending license approval from the Vermont Secretary of State’s licensing board, which was scheduled to finalize its decision Wednesday.

“I’m told they have not had to act on a professional boxing application for a long time,” the soft-spoken McMillan said on Tuesday over coffee, not long after finishing his daily morning training regimen, which includes a five-mile run.

Saturday’s program, which McMillan is also promoting along with partners, will include five professional boxing matches along with the mixed martial arts and kickboxing events. He said program participants are coming from several states, some from the Midwest.

One of the boxing matches will be McMillan’s professional debut as a welterweight (147-pound class).

A resident of Williston for about a year, the practitioner of what boxing writers once called “the sweet science” owns and operates a Burlington hair salon.

He is no stranger to local amateur boxing, having won some five titles over the years in the Burlington Golden Gloves competition.

He said that while his personal professional boxing goal is to “win a championship belt,” at another level he wants to bring the sport back to the state from which the professional side has been absent for decades.

Following the action on Saturday, McMillan and his promotional partners are hoping to schedule a benefit show in February to raise money in the fight against breast cancer.

“We’ll use pink gloves for the fighters,” he said.

Further down the road, he would like to establish a “legitimate boxing gym” and feature programs that would raise money to help youngsters with illnesses or other difficult circumstances.

When it comes to actual ring work in his training, McMillan noted he has been able to get time in the pugilistic squares at All-American Fitness in South Burlington and in Winooski at a facility run by Billy Lefebvre, member of the Onion City’s well-known boxing family.

McMillan said he first got interested in the sport while he was a teenager in Brooklyn. He was asked by the mother of a boy for whom he was part of a Big Brother program to take the lad to a boxing gymnasium.

“After going to the gym a few times, I became interested in the sport,” he said.

During this time in the late ’90s, McMillan said he won a world title in karate but later abandoned that for boxing.

For the time being, McMillan prefers to manage his own boxing career. He added that if he can win three or more matches, he might then be able to contract with Golden Boy Promotions, a firm with famed boxer Oscar de La Hoya as a principal, which could take him further up the professional ladder.

“If I’m going to get hit in the head, I want to get paid for it,” he said.

For additional information about the boxing card and show, go online to kingjamesboxing.com.