By Felisa Cardenas
killeen daily herald
Walk into EJK Boxing and Fitness Club, and there won’t be typical workout machines in rows, facing a mirror, and there are no people attempting to sell you an upgraded membership.
Instead, there sits a boxing ring with five jerseys hanging from the rafters and a set of medals laying over them — six bronze and one silver.
The medals grab the attention of boxing coach Kila Nixon’s students.
“Even the tiny kids start counting the medals,” Nixon says as she recounts how often they enjoy asking her, “‘Coach, really? You got all these medals?’”
It’s through this tangible example that she can use curiosity to teach students about dedication to training for a goal.
On a Tuesday or Thursday evening, 5-year-old Jayla Tucker can be found excitedly running and skipping into
the children’s boxing class.
She takes off her shoes, gets her jump rope and listens as Nixon explains which workout they’ll be doing first. As she practices, Jayla steals a glance back at her mother Jasmine Tucker, who watches.
“She’s always excited to come,” Jasmine Tucker said, sharing that her daughter asks if it’s time to head to her class as soon as she wakes up from her afternoon nap.
“She’s already teaching my toddler,” she adds.
Jayla’s older brother started taking classes from Nixon first, and once she saw what her big brother was doing, she wanted to do it too.
As one of the youngest students in the class, she started in one-on-one classes with Nixon before she was able to concentrate and keep up to join the group class.
The family recently moved to the Killeen area, and Jasmine Tucker was looking for an activity that would help keep her children active.
She found EJK Boxing.
Nixon’s husband Nick, who is also a retired Army Sargent, runs the gym and originally taught all the classes, but ever since she asked to take over instructing the youth class, it has become Kila Nixon’s passion.
“We just train the kids, the amateurs or pro fighters, whoever want to make it out there we are here to train them,” she said. “We teach them the basic fundamentals of it, not even a class. We’re teaching you self-defense.
“We’re teaching you everything right, so even just being outside, you know how to fend for yourself.”
Coach, Trainer, Competitor
Kila Nixon educates her young students about dedication to athletics because of the experience she had as an athlete.
As part of Team USA, Kila Nixon traveled to Kunming, China, in Oct., 2017, to compete in the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships.
“It was my dream to make the team,” Kila Nixon said, “and I said to my family that when I come back from China that I would focus on the boxing club and reaching out to the children.”
Dragon boating consist of teams that sit in boats measuring 40 feet long by 4 feet wide and carry 20 paddlers, a drummer and a person who steers. Teams race down courses ranging from 250 meters to 1,000 meters.
Kila Nixon was an ocean paddler growing up, which made her transition into dragon boating easy.
“We did a recreational paddling in Austin,” she recalls, “until one day we were like, ‘We’re all ocean paddlers, let’s go in this dragon boat.’
“Because we had the experience of ocean paddling, we ended up doing really good in the dragon boat.”
Typically, it takes a dragon boater two years to make Team USA “depending on how well you can adapt or learn quick,” Kila Nixon said.
While Kila Nixon is trained by her husband on the row machine in the gym, she is always working to stay on top of her skills, and her dedication to the sport has not faltered throughout the journey.
Monday through Friday, Kila Nixon is at the gym. Saturday mornings, beginning at 3 a.m., she is up and preparing to make the drive to Houston to train with her dragon boat team.
In the months leading to China, Kila Nixon was up at 3 a.m. to run with her friend by 3:50 a.m. in order to make it to the gym and open the doors at 4:30 a.m.
While most people would find her schedule hectic and overwhelming, Kila Nixon thrives off it.
“I have a little bit of time for myself but energy creates itself,” she explained. “Being positive, giving away all that positive energy, I just know that being able to help those people gives me energy back.
“Just seeing them happy filled me up with the extra energy to go on.”
Since returning from the world championship, Kila Nixon has focused on her promise to reach out to local children in Killeen.
“To train the little children and just to see them, teaching them, helping them build confidence and watching them just work,” Kila Nixon said, “it just inspires me.”
The ultimate goal is to be able to reach as many children and teens as she possibly can but she realizes that it’s easier said than done.
“I want to go find them where ever they are,” Kila Nixon said. “I’m trying to get in touch with the school system but everything is you have to document it and have it approved.
“You can’t just approach children on the street, so there’s some channels that we have to go through, but whatever the doors have open for me, I’m going to go through them.”
As for the doors of EJK Boxing and Fitness Club, they’re always open to clients and potential clients.
“We have private clients we train,” she said. “We have women’s fitness and one-on-one clients, weight-loss class — something for everyone.”
Meanwhile, the next IDBF World Championship won’t take place until 2019 in Thailand.
“I have Thailand at the back of my head, so I know what I need to do,” Kila Nixon said. “We say it’s offseason, but it’s not really offseason. I’m already in training.”
The idea of competing with Team USA is never far from her mind, but Kila Nixon has her eyes set on her current mission.
“If I can focus on the little children and what I’m giving back,” she said, “if it’s meant for me to go back in another two years time to Thailand, it will happen.”