BILLY STANICK LEANS in close because he’s got something important to say. He’s been talking for more than an hour, but nothing he’s said has had this sort of urgency.
He nods in the direction of one of his former fighters who had tremendous talent, but Stanick says that because he was stubborn and didn’t let Stanick manage him in the way Stanick wanted, boxing didn’t pan out.
“It doesn’t matter how good of a boxer you are,” he says. “You need a manager to be successful.”
Stanick’s family wishes he would take his own advice.
At 73, Stanick climbs on top of roofs every day. When he’s done with that, he stops by White Rock Boxing to work with young boxers. The only adjustment he’s made to his routine in the past 50 years is that he now does yoga stretches for his back while he’s at the gym and is less hands-on with the boxers he trains and manages.
His most admirable trait of generosity and a desire to take care of everyone also is his greatest flaw – he doesn’t want any help in taking care of himself. Recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Palmetto Boxing Promotions recently, Stanick has given his time and money to develop boxing in the state, and he’s never taken anything from it.
“He’s extremely generous, and sometimes we think he’s generous to a fault just because he’s so eager to help out everybody and anybody that needs help,” says LaJuana Sturkie, Stanick’s daughter. “He can’t hardly say no to anybody. Daddy is kind of a strong-willed guy and is going to do things the way he wants to do them.”
In the 43 years since he opened White Rock Boxing, Stanick says he hasn’t taken a penny from any boxer he’s trained or managed.
His successful roofing business has comfortably supported his family, but Stanick says nobody in the history of South Carolina has ever spent as much money on the boxing game as he has.
He won’t say how much that is, because he’s worried his wife, Linda, will be mad at him.
It’s never been about the money for Stanick. When someone made Stanick an offer to buy the land that White Rock Boxing sits on, Stanick couldn’t bear the thought of the place being torn down.
“I enjoy helping people,” Stanick says. “I enjoy watching kids that might not be good at something else make it in boxing and be good at something.”
ALWAYS A FIGHTER
Stanick’s boxing career was short-lived, lasting five years. When he married Linda, he quit boxing, but when his son was about 8, Stanick picked it back up because he wanted to teach him to box.
It was enough to renew Stanick’s addiction. His friend Chris Hitopoulus was helping to train boxers at the time, and Stanick started to help him when he would get off work. He then became a promoter because he needed to book bouts for the boxers he was training.
Boxing has never been work for Stanick, but Stanick has always worked.
His father was killed during World War II in Okinawa, Japan, when Stanick was 5. Stanick’s mother remarried, and though they had a good relationship, Stanick’s grandmother, Cora Scali, raised him.
“She was a heck of a lady,” Stanick says. “She was a hard-working woman and knew that she had to make a living for us even if she had to do it all on her own. She was remarkable.”
The first and only manager he ever had was Scali. She was superstitious about her dreams, and if she told him not to go somewhere or do something because she had an eerie dream about it, he listened.
Scali didn’t approve of him boxing, but she didn’t get in his way as long as he had real work.
“I had to work,” Stanick says. “My grandmother had said, ‘Boy, you better work.’ I’d work all day and then in the evenings after I’d get off of work, I’d work with the kids and train fighters. I started working when I was 18 years old, and I’ve been working ever since.”
When Stanick was diagnosed with cancer, he would still go to work at the roofing company and then check in at White Rock, despite his family’s pleas for him to take it easy during treatment.
After he beat the cancer, he didn’t take a break to appreciate his victory, but kept fighting.
“The doctor said he’d never seen anything like him,” Sturkie said. “He told daddy to get up and walk around the hospital because most people would sit there in bed and try to be as still as possible, but daddy would always go overboard.”
ONE TOUGH COOKIE
Stanick can go on for hours talking about the boxers he has trained and the ones he’s still working with. He has pictures of every one of them, covering the walls of White Rock and he has a story tell about each.
Nicknames are important in boxing, and Stanick goes by “Mr. Billy,” a sign of the respect everyone has for him.
Stanick talks most about Daniel “DP” Powell. Powell works with Stanick during the day as part of the roofing business, helps Stanick run White Rock and trains boxers there. Stanick is Powell’s manager and promoter. The two have a relationship that resembles a father and his son, Stanick beaming with pride when talking about how good Powell is with younger boxers. Not only did Stanick help develop a talented boxer, he molded Powell into his possible successor.
“There are some slimy characters in boxing, and Mr. Billy isn’t one of them,” Powell says. “I trust him.”
Stanick says he has no intentions to stop working, even if it often displeases his family. But they’re never truly frustrated with him.
Sturkie’s voice gets shaky when she talks about how wonderful a father he was. She recalls the time he bought about 100 boxes of Girl Scouts cookies from her so that she could be the one who sold the most in her troop.
Though Stanick can be stubborn, the ones who love him wouldn’t have him any other way.
“We’ve all kind of come to the conclusion that he’s never going to give it up,” Sturkie said. “He’s going to do it until his last day probably. He just likes it that much.”