WINDSOR, Vt. -
On Saturday Night, Chris "Gumby" Gilbert improved to 11-0 in his pro boxing career after a 4th round TKO of Rhode Island's Eddie Soto. He did it in front on his friends and family at the Windsor Recreation Center, home of the Windsor Boxing Club. It's a club Gilbert helped start a decade ago when there was no ring, just a small room behind the bleachers.
"We had boxing gloves and mitts and jump ropes and a timer," Gilbert said. "We started here and from he we built up to what you see today."
In the back of the gym, hang Chris' accomplishments. He's a two-time Vermont Golden Gloves Champion and a winner at the New England Golden Gloves. But For every banner, for each big victory, there were setbacks and surgeries. In 2005, his first year at UVM and during the early stages of his amateur career, Gilbert shattered both wrists requiring bone grafts and pins to put them back together.
"They (doctors) told me that this probably isn't the sport for me. I'm not good at paying attention. I don't listen much," Gilbert said.
Then in 2009, two years before turning pro, a massive staff infection hospitalized gilbert for six days.
"That was scary, but it was just one of those things, that you don't really know," Gilbert said. "I think that every time I've had to take time off, It's been able to give me a little bit of reflection time. Go back in, make changes, make adjustments."
Injuries are one obstacle. Traveling is another.
"The hardest thing for me right now is finding those opponents for getting people to go sparring, getting people that are at my level that can push me," Gilbert said.
"He'll get in the car and he'll drive all the way to Portland, Maine," Gilbert's head trainer, Mel Peabody, said. "I'll drive up from where I am and we'll meet, then we'll spar and then we'll both go home. It's part of what you have to do."
Thanks to the help of his trainers and support of his family especially mom, who organized the second annual windsor fight night, the 29 year old has persevered in convincing fashion. Eight of his ten previous fights ended by knockout.
"Watching him fight is fun. I enjoy watching him fight," Gilbert's mother, Beth O'Brien, said. "I know Chris' abilities. I've watched him for nine years now, trained with him, worked with him. The more word spreads, the more Chris Gilbert gets his name out there and the more he'll go further."
And in case you were wondering, Chris Gilbert's nickname, "Gumby" comes from his childhood.
"I used to run my mouth a lot apparently," Gilbert said. "Running your gums a lot, turned into Gumby. Not a great story behind it, but it stuck."
But Chris Gumby Gilbert isn't all talk, he's a fighter in and out of the ring. A true pro who started with a dream and now gets to live it with those closest to him.