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By Arne K. Lang

Tru Nevins planned to spend most of last week in New York City. She was all packed and chomping at the bit when Jake Paul pulled the rug out from under her. She feels fortunate that the airline gave her a full refund.

Nevins has family in New York, but the impetus for her planned trip was to support a member of her boxing family, namely Hasim Rahman Jr., Jake Paul’s scheduled opponent in the aborted promotion. Rahman trains at Tru’s gym alongside his brother Sharif with their father, Hasim Sr, the former world heavyweight champion, normally keeping a close watch.

Trudi Nevins – everyone calls her Tru – hardly fits the mold of a boxing gym operator, but she is the sole owner and hands-on manager of the DLX boxing gym in Las Vegas. The gym sits in a strip mall on the far west side of town, almost a straight line from the center of the Strip, in a unit, formerly a dry cleaners, that sat vacant for 14 years until Nevins moved in two summers ago and out-fitted it with a regulation-sized ring, punching bags and other equipment. DLX stands for “deluxe.”

Nevins grew up in the New York City borough of Queens where as a young girl she was literally a kid in a candy store. Her parents, who left their native Ukraine as children during the Holocaust, had what east coast kids called a candy store, a store that sold candy, magazines, and tobacco products. She went on to earn an MA in social work at Fordham University and worked at a trauma center in the Bronx that was part of Jacoby Medical Center where she met her future husband.

Nevins started working out at a boxing gym as a way of keeping fit. She’s a great advertisement for boxing gyms as alternatives to generic fitness studios. She looks much younger than her years (we won''t reveal her age) and we’re not patronizing her when we say this.

In hindsight, Tru picked a bad time to open a boxing gym. Less than four months after she opened DLX, she had to shut things down for three weeks because of the pandemic. Both she and her husband caught Covid.

Across the globe, many boxers caught the virus. Hasim Rahman Jr was among them.

Covid, notes Tru Nevins, knocked Hasim off the undercard of the exhibition between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr, the biggest pay-per-view boxing event of 2020. When he lost the Jake Paul fight, that was a double whammy for the relatively obscure boxer who trained faithfully for the bout and isn’t getting any younger. “The one thing you can’t get back is time,” says Tru.

Of all the long-gone boxing gyms, none is more fabled than Stillman’s Gym which was situated up a flight of stairs in mid-Manhattan near the old Madison Square Garden. It was a place straight out of Guys and Dolls.

A boxing gym tends to take on the personality of its proprietor. Stillman’s was the domain of dyspeptic Lou Inger. One didn’t mess with the cigar-chomping Inger who carried a gun in his shoulder holster and looked upon every stranger who came up the stairs as someone who came there to steal from him.

Tru Nevins is the anti-Lou Inger. She’s the boss, make no mistake, but one thing that one quickly notices when visiting her gym is that no one approaches her in a servile fashion. The regulars treat her as one of the guys. They josh and jest with her.

Tru’s fondest memory of her parents’ candy store is of the back room, a place where friends and family sat around kibbitzing. The DLX is something of an extension of that haven.

Among the regulars are two old salts, Kenny Adams and Jesse Reid, who have made DLX their headquarters. To list all the prominent boxers that Adams and Reid have coached would take up an entire page. As the assistant coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team and the head coach of the 1988 team, Adams mentored such future stars as Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker and Roy Jones Jr. At the professional level he handled Edwin Valero and Diego Corrales among many others. Jesse Reid trained Roger Mayweather, Orlando Canizales, Johnny Tapia, and Paul Spadafora to name just a few.

Adams and Reid, both now in their eighties, now find themselves mostly coaching other coaches. Some of those other coaches work with boys and girls as young as nine. The kids train alongside established pros, save on those occasions when the handlers of a boxer high-up in the food chain reserve the gym for a private session.

Former IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora, the erstwhile “Pittsburgh Kid,” and his 17-year-old son Geno were working out there the other day when this reporter dropped by. At age 46, the elder Spadafora, whose legal troubles overshadowed his ring achievements – he left the sport with a 49-1-1 record -- looked to be in tip-top shape. As for young Geno, an aspiring pro, when he laced on his gloves, he was following a family tradition. Paul’s father Silvio Spadafora was a Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion.

As for who’s at fault for the late cancellation of the Showtime pay-per-view match between Jake Paul and Hasim Rahman Jr, there’s a difference of opinion, but in hindsight Paul – who was both the promoter and the main attraction -- was guilty of poor judgment for demanding pernicious weight and rehydration clauses that proved unreasonable.

What does Tru Nevins think of Jake Paul? “He’s good at marketing himself and making a lot of money, but I don’t consider him a real boxer,” she says. “People say he’s good for women’s boxing, but if women’s boxing hadn’t been getting any attention, I’m sure he would have gone in a different direction. I think it was a calculated business move.”

And so, Tru Nevins’ New York homecoming, an excursion arranged for the primary purpose of rooting on a member of her Las Vegas boxing family, fell by the wayside. But at least she had her gym to fall back on. “I love it here,” she says, “it’s not work for me.”

Arne K. Lang’s latest book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” will shortly roll off the press. The book, published by McFarland, can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher ( or via Amazon.