Confined but not condemned: The story of boxing trainer Larry Kern
By "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (January 12, 2005)  
Larry Kern with Chris Byrd
“I’m paralyzed, not dead! Life is a gift… don’t waste it.” - Larry Kern

You may never see the name Larry Kern on the marquee surrounded with bright lights. Most have probably not even heard about the man, visited Camp Kern, or even know what he stands for or has a clue of what he has been through. He isn’t this big time promoter, hotshot manager or well renowned trainer sought out by the masses, but do I think Larry’s story is worth being told? Yes, I honestly do.

What Larry is, is far more than what he isn’t. What he is, is a man with a big heart always willing to help out others to learn the sweet science. He is a fighter at heart, an over-comer and is still to this day taking on life one day at a time. And in a wheelchair or not, he is showing no signs of letting up, but most importantly he is a teacher and a mentor.

Born in Charleston, SC, on May 20th 1969, Larry is the youngest of six children and is the son of a retired serviceman, who introduced Larry to the sport of boxing at a young age. His all time favorites fighters are Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard, and a lot more, mostly the 80’s era. Larry was your average kid who enjoyed playing outdoors and being involved in football, basketball, volleyball and baseball. But Larry’s passion was motorcycle riding, a sport he competed in.

Larry was on his way to following in his dad’s footsteps to becoming a serviceman, where he was aspiring in being a Navy Seal. But on Christmas day of 1985 Larry’s dreams would be broken and his life forever changed when the then sixteen year old was involved in a near fatal car accident. Larry doesn’t hold back in saying that it involved alcohol. All he recalls is his friend turning down Larry’s street, romping the gas and when the car hit second gear it spun sideways. The 66 Chevelle Super Sport went into a roll, throwing Larry into the ceiling head first and rendering him unconscious. When he regained consciousness he couldn’t move and had trouble breathing. Larry broke his C6 C7 vertebra that paralyzed him, leaving him confined to a wheelchair to this day.

After a year of hospitalization and rehabilitation Larry set out to make something of himself. Wheelchair or not, he wasn’t giving up. After all, he is just paralyzed, not dead… life is a gift, don’t waste it. Hey, it isn’t over till you're counted out, right? Pick yourself off the canvas and keep on fighting. That is what makes Larry’s story worth the read; no, he isn’t this caped crusader, man-of-steel hero made up in the comics, or a highly exaggerated Rocky character portrayed on the movie screen. But he is a fighter and hasn’t given up, and to the youngsters who Larry has taken under his wing he is some sort of a hero. Look past the wheelchair and you don’t see a quadriplegic, but a man on a mission that is relentless in his call of duty.

After adjusting to his new way of life Larry set out to take charge of his life and studied at a community college majoring in psychology before transferring to Mississippi State University and majoring in Secondary Education in History and coaching football and basketball. Larry then trained K-9’s for Law Enforcement agencies for three years. Now nineteen years after his near fatal accident Larry is doing what he loves and most of all is helping others and giving back to the community.

The passion for boxing has brought Larry from being just another sad story of a man with a shattered dream to a man who has achieved his potential. Actually Larry has surpassed what he has set out to do, and that is what makes his story so heart warming. Four days a week, and around 350 miles of weekly driving, Larry makes the trip to his 20-acre state-of-the-art training facility where he takes on the challenge of training youngsters and turning them into fighters in the sweet science. But Larry is more than just a boxing trainer. He also serves as a mentor to the formally troubled youth, teaching them not only art of fighting but also the art of living. Larry has great affection for his stable of fighters and does his best to guide them into the right direction in and out of the ring.

Camp Kern, which sits quietly and securely in East Central Mississippi, was founded by Larry in 1996. Camp Kern offers some of the most comfortable settings a training facility can possibly have. It is a 6,000 square feet training facility with a 20’x20' regulation ring, with heavy bags, speed bags and every bag you can think of, along with mirrors and 8,000 watts of lighting, with more to be added. It is a sweet retreat with a video viewing room and direct TV, full bedrooms with three sets of bunk beds, a full kitchen, locker room/shower and washer and dryer. Everything a team needs during a long stay of hard work and training before the big fight. All of this is made possible by Larry’s hard work, determination and never-say-quit attitude.

Larry looks ahead to the future and what it may hold, as there is no sense in living in the past since it can’t be changed. He hopes one day to host the camp for a world champion, but is more than content with training his stable of fighters and will always continue to do so. Larry believes that through Jesus Christ all things are possible and that he is alive for some reason. So this isn’t just a story about a man confined to a wheelchair or a training facility, but it is more of a lesson in life to never give up and always be relentless at whatever you do. When all hope seems lost never give in. Apply this way of thinking whether you are a boxer, a trainer, a teacher, a ditch digger, truck driver or whatever career path you might take. You are somebody and always do your best, and when the chips are down just keep your head up and try, because if you give up you will never know what you could have accomplished. That is what Larry’s story is all about. Never give up, triumph over adversity, because at the times you seem confined it doesn’t mean you are condemned.

I would like to thank Larry for letting me tell a bit of his story. For more info on Larry and Camp Kern visit:
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