Troy Isley walks out towards the ring before a match.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Olympic hopeful Troy Isley remembers the exact moment he knew he wanted to become a boxer.
Just 10 years old at the time, Isley can still recall his first memory of watching the Olympic Games.
“I saw the 2008 Olympics on TV, and ever since then going to the Olympic Games has been my dream,” said Isley. “That was when I knew.”
Now as the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 approach, Isley is well on his way to making his dream a reality.
Just four months ago, Isley had undoubtedly the most important moment of his career thus far. He defeated 2016 Olympic gold medalist Arlen Lopez of Cuba at the Pan American Games Qualifier.
“It was a big moment for me,” Isley said. “I felt like all the times that I had been to the medal rounds before I could never get over that hump. I could always push through the quarterfinals, but when I would get to the gold-medal round, for some reason, I just couldn’t do it.”
But that day was different.
“The day before we were working out and I was just telling myself, ‘I’m going to win this. I have to win this,’” he recalled. “I was just so confident.”
Coming off his win over Lopez, Isley flew to Lima, Peru, for the Pan American Games, where he earned the men’s 75 kg. bronze medal.
“I loved the crowd and just the whole environment in Peru,” Isley said. “It kind of felt like a mini Olympic experience.”
Reflecting on his impeccable summer, Isley says he is positive he is capable of beating anyone in his weight class.
“I feel extremely confident,” the middleweight said. “I feel like I’m the best.”
But for Isley, gaining confidence in the ring didn’t come easy. He attributes much of his success to his coach Kay Koroma, who trains him at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“He’s pushed me, but he’s also changed me as a person,” Isley said. “Before, I was this quick-trigger kid who would always retaliate. Now, thanks to him, he has taught me a lot of discipline. He taught me how to walk away from the small stuff.”
Isley will compete at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing this December and, if he wins, advance to an international tournament next year where he will have the opportunity to qualify the weight class and punch his ticket to Tokyo.
As 2020 inches closer, Isley and Koroma are taking training very seriously.
“We’re training three times a day and sometimes more,” Isley said. “Right now, we are waking up at 9 a.m. to do conditioning, we do a boxing workout at 2 p.m.; then at 4 p.m. we are doing another strength and conditioning workout.”
With less than a year until the Games, Isley says attending the recent Olympic City USA Catch the Spirit luncheon – which included Olympic legends Bonnie Blair, Dick Fosbusy and Peggy Fleming Jenkins, along with Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls who, like Isley, train in Colorado Springs – made it all the more exciting.
“It makes me feel good to have all this support behind me,” said Isley. “It makes me want to fight even more to know these people are at home supporting me and cheering me on.”
For now, Isley will continue to train and prepare until it’s his time to shine.
“I envision it every day,” he said. “I think about it every day. That’ll be one of the biggest moments of my life. I’ve been waiting for it since I was 10 years old.”