But McGuire had plans much bigger than his size. He told writer-photographer Peter Yates that he intended to turn pro at age eighteen. “I’m going to be good enough, no doubt about it,” he boasted—and then backed it up by pummeling an opponent in an exhibition held at Huron High.
The boxing club was run by Stacy McKinley, a demanding but dedicated trainer who’d started it a few years earlier with $50,000 he’d won in a statewide “Tough Man” contest. A construction equipment operator, McKinley donated his time as well as his money to maintain the club. In his own wild youth, boxing had provided a focus, and he wanted to help other kids in similar straits. He also hoped someday to manage a professional.
By the time Yates took another look in 1989, the club was inactive, but McKinley was still working with several fighters who’d turned pro. Eric McGuire, however, was not among them. Then eighteen and a senior at Pioneer High, he was in a very different position than he’d hoped to be in. His older brother, Derrick, had gone pro, with mixed success—McKinley thought he’d tried to go too far, too fast—but Eric hadn’t fought since suffering a broken neck in a street brawl.