McKinney imparts boxing skills to younger students
TULSA – After a run in amateur boxing, Cherokee Nation citizen Cheyenne McKinney continues her career by teaching and coaching children the sweet science.
McKinney opened Cheyenne’s Boxing Gym at 102 N. Greenwood Ave., Suite 124A in the Greenwood District. She said working with children and teaching them what she’s learned motivates her.
“My goal is to try and get the kids more active, especially the youth ages 10 to 16,” she said. “For me, that age range is where hormones are going and attitudes are everywhere, and school. There’s so much going on while they’re growing up, so if I can just get a hold of them and bring them to the gym and show them discipline and show them as a big sis ‘I love you and I’m going to be on you, you can do this.’”
McKinney started boxing as a high school senior under Keith Reed of the Reed Foundation. “I started boxing and coming to practice all the time. It was just a sport. As I saw my progression and my ability to keep up with the guys and just the limelight of it all, aside from the hard work, I was like well maybe I can go pro at this.”
She won the 115-pound weight class of the Kansas Golden Gloves at Hutchinson in 2009. She won several other trophies thereafter. But when offered to go into professional boxing twice, she turned it down.
“I did get offered a chance to go pro between 2010 and 2011,” she said. “I got ranked number two in the world for Ringside World Games. I wasn’t ready so I turned that down. Then two or three years I got an offer to go pro again and I turned that down as well because the management was just worried about me having a family as a young lady, because once you sign that contract you can’t do anything else.”
The idea for opening a gym came in 2018 after working at an insurance company. The owner offered her a space to open a gym on Greenwood Avenue.
“So that’s kind of how I started,” she said. “He had his own space here on Greenwood and he was like ‘If you wanted to get your own students I’m offering my space to you.’ Then I just I branched out on my own.”
McKinney’s gym offers packages ranging from $100 to $200 for classes and personal training. “I’d say the main thing that differentiates my gym from all the other gyms here in Tulsa is that when you come to me, you’re actually learning how to box. I take everyone, boys and girls, starting at the age of 6 and up. So if you actually want to compete, that is my overall goal. The number one thing that I want to do is get you in shape and sharpen you up to actually fight.”
She said she wants to instill what she learned into her young students.
“I’d say the inspiration comes from when I was boxing myself, and I understood that when I listened to my coach and I put in hard work, it works,” she said. “The results are really true because I have belts, medals and trophies to show for it. The main thing is you have to build that trust with the kids. They have to trust that what you’re saying is going to work.”
She also attends Oral Roberts University, working towards a bachelor’s degree in business management. “There’s so much I don’t know about running a business. So I’ve just been going off of common sense and it’s working.”
McKinney said having a gym honors her Native American and Black heritage. “It’s an honor for me to be the first Black and Native American woman on Greenwood to have a boxing gym. It’s history for me. So to have those doors open by meeting Keith and all the other people here on Greenwood that have been helping me, I’m very honored.”