John Brown, who trained former World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison when Morrison was 18, said that if Nick continues to work hard, he has a chance to be a successful pro.

"He has excellent hand speed, determination and grit," Brown said. "Being successful in heavyweight boxing could be one of the most lucrative ventures in sports. I always tell my guys, it's about keeping you healthy and keeping you wealthy. It all comes down to work ethic."

Nick's strong work ethic is reflected in his training routine. During the week, he goes to school until 2 p.m. and then runs for about an hour and a half. At 5 p.m. he goes to the gym to train for about three hours. He trains six days a week.


Follow @SunVarsity on Twitter.

Sometimes, the training doesn't leave a lot of time to be a teenager.

"He's not able to hang out with us as much because he is training so much," said Mike Sillaman, 16, a friend of Nick's from the Old Mill wrestling team. "He's very involved with the boxing thing, but I'd rather him make something of himself than just simply go hang out with friends."

Danny Kisner, 41, a former amateur fighter who has turned professional and has a 1-0 record, has been training Nick since he was 7. He has seen him progress from a mild-mannered kid to the confident fighter he is today.

"I did not want him boxing," Danny Kisner said. "I spoiled him. I said, 'No one's hitting my baby in the face.' He was meek and mild. I'm still shocked when I see him boxing out there."

'Fight back'
Nick Kisner had his first exhibition fight at 7, and started his amateur career at 8. Early on, he lost almost as many fights as he won.

"He was 12 years old, and he won like three of his last 10 fights," Danny Kisner said. "I said, 'I don't know about you, but I don't like losing.' I said if he really wanted to do this, he had to get in there, grit his teeth and fight."

The turning point for Nick occurred two years ago in a loss to a 16-year-old. Nick was in trouble early after his opponent caught him with a body shot 30 seconds into the first round, breaking a rib.

"I felt it snap, and I just put my hand back and held it," he said. "I told my coach that my ribs were broken. He asked me If I wanted to quit. I said no, and he said, 'Good, keep on fighting.' "

Nick said it was the worst pain he has felt in the ring and it impeded his breathing, but he kept going.

He took a beating in the second round, too.

"I just kept on trying to think, 'They're going to stop it,' and I've never been stopped before," he said. "I heard my dad say, 'Fight back!' and I just kept on fighting."

Nick came back in the third round, making his opponent take a standing eight count.

"What I realized through that is if I can survive that, I can do a lot," Nick said. "I lost the fight, but from then on, I've been outclassing everyone. "

'Never give up'
With Danny Kisner being a boxer, Nick's family knows all too well the physical risks that come with the sport. Danny has suffered lingering back injuries and a fractured jaw, and his nose has been broken three times.

Nick has had a broken nose and torn muscles in his left shoulder. Even with the injury risks, his family has been supportive of his career choice.

"Being hit over and over again is going to affect anybody. The body is not meant to do that," Danny Kisner said. "It affects everybody differently."

As scary as it can be watching Nick fight, his family always will be there to support him.

Said Dawn Kisner, Nick's stepmother: "Anyone that you care about, you see them in the ring and you always worry. You just have to stick by him and encourage him to do the best he can."

Even if Nick doesn't become a pro boxer, though, he'll take what he has learned from the sport and apply it to everyday life.

"I've learned to never give up," he said. "Prove to the people that you're stronger than they think you are.

"Nick Kisner is going to get back up, and I'm going to fight till I die."

stefen.lovelace@baltsun.com