For Michael Polite-Coffie, boxing is just another drill.
The 30-year-old pugilist out of Bloodline MMA is a Marines Corps veteran who picked up boxing for the first time after returning from overseas.
“If you can fight over there, you can fight in the ring,” said Polite-Coffie. “Over there you’ll be fighting, but sometimes you can’t see your enemy. At least in the ring, you know who you’re going against. You can see your enemy. It’s another man … I’ve never really been scared of the guy across the ring from me.”
Polite-Coffie feels that serving in the Marines has given him mental focus and discipline.
“The core values in the Marines are courage and commitment. You fight with honor, you don’t back down — that’s courage. Commitment, you commit yourself to whatever your craft is. I took those core values and put it into boxing.”
Polite-Coffie started boxing a little over a year ago. He didn’t have much time to prepare for his first Golden Gloves tournament. To compensate for lost time, the vet hit the gym.
“The minute I walked in the gym I told my trainer that I want to compete. He can tell you that I showed up every day, seven days a week,” said Polite-Coffie. “It was two weeks before the Golden Gloves was going to start and I showed up every day. He showed me all the basic things just to try to get a jump-start because it was kind of a last-minute thing. I committed myself for those two weeks and I saw the result, which was a first-round knockout. From there I was hooked.”
Polite-Coffie made it all the way to the novice division finals in the 2016 tournament before losing in a unanimous decision.
“It was a good experience. It showed me a lot of things that I needed to work on. It showed me that I couldn’t just rely on my power,” said Polite-Coffee. “My power got me out of trouble last year. It showed me that I needed to implement more cardio into my workout. In the finals fight last year I was gassed after the first round. As a result of that experience I went back to the drawing board and worked on things. Now I feel way better.”
Polite-Coffie returns to the finals this year to take on the tough Nkosi Solomon, the defending Golden Gloves champion in the 201+ open division.
The two have fought once before. Solomon, a member of the USA Boxing team, stopped Polite-Coffie in a razor-thin 3-2 split decision in the Metro Championship for the right to go to Nationals.
“I thought I won the fight. This time will be different,” said Polite-Coffie. “I look back on the fight … I was landing shots, but I was landing shots like one shot there and then like a one-two there. I need to put together more combinations. Judges like to see that.”
Polite-Coffie has put a strong emphasis on roadwork. He feels that conditioning is going to play a vital role in the fight, that upping the tempo and increasing the number of punches he throws will help him to victory this time.
“It is going to come down to my cardio and punch output,” he said. “I’ve been trying to emphasize trying to put out more punches — putting out like a hundred punches a round and trying to sustain all three rounds.”
A majority of his fights haven’t seen the closing bell.
“I’m a boxer-puncher. I can box, but I also have devastating power,” he said. “Most of my fights have ended in TKOs.”
Learning from his mistakes last year, Polite-Coffie will look to correct his flaws in Friday night’s final at the Manhattan Center.
“The thing about the Marine Corps is they’ll train you for failure, but when you get to failure you’re expected to push past that. It’s a gut check,” said Polite-Coffie. “It’s pretty much how it is with boxing. When you get in that fight, just when you feel like you don’t have any more to put out, but you hear that 10-second mark, you have got to dig deep and go to war.”