Boys & Girls Clubs to honor their own Olympic hopeful

All the way through middle school, Charles Conwell each day attended the Heights Youth Club, one of 14 locations operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland. He credits the Clubs, which provide safe, fun places for kids after school, with keeping him out of trouble and on a positive path.

Now the HYC is giving the 18-year-old Olympic boxing hopeful a heartfelt sendoff.

Club members, supporters and Boys & Girls Clubs staff on Jan. 6 will host a “Good Luck, Charles” news conference and reception for Conwell, who will leave Jan. 15 for the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event is from 5-7 p.m. at HYC, 2065 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights.

“Boys & Girls Clubs are a great avenue to keep kids busy and out of trouble,” he said.

In December, Conwell, a 165-pound middleweight, closed in on a 2016 Olympic berth by beating four fighters in his division at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for boxing in Reno, Nevada. He now needs only a high finish in one of three upcoming international boxing tournaments to qualify.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Conwell, who started boxing at age 11, comes from a family deeply involved in the sport. Four of his eight siblings were boxers – super heavyweight Marlon Steen, sisters Tyree and Tiarra Conwell and active middleweight Isaiah Steen. They call themselves Team TUFF (Tightly United Family Fighters) Boxing Academy. Charles Conwell is coached by his father, Chuck.

Charles has amassed an impressive amateur record, including a national Junior Olympics title in 2013 and, at age 17, a national Golden Gloves championship in his first time competing in the event. It was the first time in years that a Clevelander had captured a Golden Gloves championship.

He was undefeated in the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Conwell is now a senior at Cleveland Heights High School. His mother, Annette Steen-Conwell, said the school has been “magnificent” in supporting his educational requirements and that one of his biggest fans is teacher Jill Pompei. Steen said since the cost of training for the Olympics is quite high, the family is continuing to seek sponsorships; potential sponsors can contact her at .

Conwell and his siblings were all charter members of the Heights Youth Club, according to BGCC Area Director Roscoe Morgan. Morgan said Charles attended daily through middle school and continues to come to the Club during the school year to say hello.

“Charles was always an attentive young guy,” Morgan said. “He loved the game room and often won tournaments on the foosball and ping pong table. He always has been a competitor – he plays to win.”

Conwell’s mother remembers something her son said after he got hooked on boxing.

“I’m not stopping until I make the Olympics” she recalled him saying.

That goal is now very close to becoming a reality.