Ricky Aulie has a mean streak but you wouldn't know it by looking at him.
Aulie, who's a senior at Crosby-Ironton High School, competes in cross country and golf for the Rangers and sings in the choir. So where does this mean streak come from?
This personable choir boy is one of the top young boxers in the state and competes in both Golden Gloves and USA Boxing.
"When I get in the ring my focus isn't to just survive," said Aulie. "It's to inflict pain and punishment on the guy but at the same time be gentlemanly and a sportsman about it."
Last Saturday Aulie won the 141-pound Region IV championship. He will fight in the Region IV box-offs April 12 at the Wadena Armory. If Aulie wins there, he will move on the Upper Midwest regional tournament at Grand Casino in Hinckley and face the Northern Minnesota champion. After that it's on to nationals in Las Vegas.
He carries a 9-2 record this year and has won two consecutive state championships.
Aulie, who's been boxing since he was 10, actually got into the sport by accident.
"Originally we had found some old boxing gloves upstairs in the house we were living in and I put them on," Aulie said. "Then we saw an ad in the paper for boxing and I've loved it ever since."
Tom Schutt, Aulie's boxing coach, is happy Aulie stumbled upon those gloves. He wishes all his athletes worked as hard as Aulie.
Ricky Aulie jumped rope during his circuit of training at practice Tuesday. His training routine also includes several repetitions of a supine bicycle exercise, sparring and running wind sprints.
"Ricky's given (boxing) 110 percent," Schutt said. "A lot of the kids look up to Ricky and they want to be as good as he is. I wish all my kids had his dedication. Ricky will have a good future in whatever he does."
Boxing's major draw for Aulie is the challenge it poses each time he steps in the ring.
"Boxing is another obstacle," said Aulie. "I love to push myself to the limit. Boxing to me is a natural rush or high. It's a great feeling when you're in that ring by yourself. I've tried a lot of sports and boxing is the one that gives me the most pleasure."
Like in boxing, cross country running and golf are mainly individual sports. Aulie points to that sink or swim mentality as why he competes in those activities.
"All three of those sports are individual," Aulie said. "I like to be responsible for my actions and I like to be in control of things and those sports allow me to do that.
"I love to sing too. I like to do as many different things as possible. But I love to be challenged mentally and physically in boxing."
Throughout his 10 years of boxing, Aulie's had many highs. Winning the 139-pound region championship last year by defeating a guy 12 years older ranks up there. As does beating Wadena's Cody McMangile for a state title this year.
But it was a USA Boxing-sponsored tournament in Milwaukee this year that ranks atop the memories.
In the championship match, in which the winner would go to Colorado Springs, Colo., for nationals, Aulie squared off against a boxer from Milwaukee. The two boxers entered the third of the four-round match even.
"I got knocked down twice in the third," Aulie said, "but I got up both times and then beat him in the fourth round. I lost a 3-2 split decision but for me to get up twice when I could hardly see straight was the greatest. I was proud of myself."
Once he graduates from high school, Aulie will head off to Bemidji State University to study elementary education.
USA Boxing will be giving Aulie a scholarship and he will have to fight twice a year to retain it. Whether he decides to continue to box after college or not, one thing is certain, Aulie will give back to the sport that's given him so much.
"The next four years I want to focus on my education," Aulie said. "Boxing takes up a lot of time. After college I'll give back to boxing in some form. Maybe I'll fight or judge or ref but I'll give back."
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