Supporting youth & sports since 1942.

Tom Mustin
2018
Boxing

    What does it take to blaze a trail of competitiveness, selflessness and courage for others to follow?
    What does it take to ignite a competitive spirit and keep that flame alive for a lifetime?
    What does it take to earn recognition for a lifetime of sports participation, promotion and organization?
    Tacoma Boxing Club coach Tom Mustin could tell you. He’s too humble to brag about himself, but he’s been doing everything for boxing for nearly 45 years while coaching at TBC.
    We recognize him today as the 2018 Doug McArthur Lifetime Achievement Award winner because he embodies an enduring passion for athletics; because he has spent decades coaching and shaping the character of young athletes.
    Boxing wasn’t always Tom’s primary interest. The oldest child in a large family, he came out of Stadium High School in 1964 wanting to make his mother proud of him.
    He told former Tacoma News Tribune columnist John McGrath in 2016, when he was inducted into the Tacoma/Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame shortly after the death of his mother, Hildred, that, “One of the reasons I became a boxing coach is to make her proud of me. I think she was.”
    Mustin coached several youth sports as a young adult. He coached Pop Warner-level football, including a team that won the county junior high championship and became the core of the 1975 Foss High School football state champions. He coached tailback Vince Coby, defensive lineman Fletcher Jenkins and linebacker Ken Driscoll, all of whom starred for the Washington Huskies in the late 1970s to early 1980s. All were part of the Huskies’ 1981 Rose Bowl victory over Iowa.
    He coached Pee Wee-level basketball. He even dabbled in Little League-level baseball.
    He found his passion when he started coaching at Tacoma Boxing Club in 1974. Why?
    “Well (in other sports), you started kids off coaching, then they would go off and win for others,” Mustin said in a recent interview. “In boxing, you can coach kids as far as they can go, all the way to national and world championships.”
    In boxing Mustin found a place to excel. In 1983, he led a boxing squad at the Junior World Championships. In 1989, he coached in the World Boxing Championships in Moscow. The following year he was in charge of the U.S. Boxing team at the Seattle Goodwill Games. The boxing competition was held in Tacoma.
    He was an alternate coach for the U.S. Olympic boxing team in both 1992 (Barcelona) and 1996 (Atlanta). The cherry on top was when he was the head coach of the U.S. Olympic team at the 2000 Games in Sydney, where his team won four medals, two of them silver.
    In between he held positions of responsibility in multiple competitions, including head coach of the U.S. team at the 1999 World Championships in Houston. The U.S. team won four gold medals and for the first time was ranked No. 1 in the world.
    Now 72 years old, Mustin is just back from leading a contingent of 16 boxers to the Junior Olympic nationals in Mesquite, Nevada. He was helped by three assistant coaches plus two chaperones for the two girls on the team.
    Girls? Yes, there have been changes over the years for Mustin and the Tacoma Boxing Club. Title IX started opening the doors of top-level athletics to more women in the 1970s. The national sanctioning body, USA Boxing, faced a court order and the threat of $500 fines daily if it didn’t admit females. So, rules were written and the girls start boxing - not against the boys, but alongside the boys.
    “At first I didn’t know how to coach the girls,” Mustin said. “But it came to me that you have to be as tough on the girls as you are with the boys. If you are soft with the girls, they’ll get hurt (in the ring).”
    Mustin’s decades of coaching show his durability, while his world-level experience shows his passion and competitive spirit. Mustin thinks globally and acts locally.
    For instance, in 2016 Tacoma Boxing Club was faced with eviction from its longtime base at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club. Did Coach Mustin throw in the towel?
    Of course not. While the Al Davies gym was transformed into a basketball court – with help from a $50,000 grant, backers thought the change would get more children involved in athletics - Mustin set about finding a new place for a new generation of young athletes to get their introduction to boxing.
    TBC found its new home in the former gym of the old Gray Middle School on the grounds of Edison Elementary in South Tacoma.
    There, Mustin greets about 100 children each year who are interested in learning what it takes to be a competitive boxer.
    “Some kids are in there because their parents don’t want them sitting around the house (playing video games),” Mustin said.
    Each young athlete is required to pay $75 in dues to join USA Boxing. They also must pay gym dues of $200.
    In exchange, they get access to the gym starting at 5:30 p.m. every Monday through Thursday. The routine? Stretching and cardio exercise. Then laps, sometimes sprints, then rope jumping. From there, they move on to 8 1/2-minute drills each on the speed bag and the power bag. All before they lace up the gloves and get in the ring.
    That kind of rigor tends to thin the ranks of prospects. Those who stick with it earn their rewards in more than medals and trophies.
    “I’ve had kids come back from college and tell me that boxing was the reason they could learn to study and do the work (to earn a degree),” Mustin said.
    If coaching dozens of young athletes isn’t enough, Mustin is a vice president of the Pacific Northwest Association of USA Boxing. In that role he helps drill people twice a year on what it takes to become a certified coach or boxing official under the USA Boxing banner. He is also instrumental in keeping up the local tradition of Golden Gloves boxing every year.
    So, how did this child of the South find his way to the Pacific Northwest?
    His oldest uncle got out of the service at the end of World War II at Fort Lewis and found a place to put down roots in the Tacoma area. The uncle was especially fond of his younger sister, Mustin’s mom, and urged her to move to the Northwest.
    “The (Mustin family moved the) same way many African-Americans found their way out of the South,” Tom said. While many traveled up the Mississippi to Chicago, Detroit and other urban centers, the Mustins headed west.
    Though Tom was a tyke under 5, he vividly recalls how his family moved. They traveled by car, alternately driving through dusty, burning deserts followed by stretches in windy, freezing mountains.
    His maternal grandfather made his way to the Tacoma area, too, and soon the family was finding a new way of life in a new place.
    Tom’s father also worked locally with Tom teaching children how to box. He had roots in Mississippi and Alabama, and when he returned to the South, he coached boxing there, too.
    Mustin became a coach at TBC about the same time he started a 40-year career at The News Tribune as a production manager. But he didn’t always get recognition from the very newspaper where he worked.
    He credits a couple of publishers for their assistance. Bill Honeysett helped Mustin get the news coverage TBC deserved in the 1980s. Betsy Brenner made sure Mustin had the time and resources he needed to coach in the 1999 world championships and the 2000 Olympic Games. In return Brenner got a 10-gallon cowboy hat and a USA Boxing shirt signed by each member of the world’s top-ranked team.
    While helping young athletes become productive citizens, Mustin has earned his share of professional and civic awards. He received the Tacoma Rotary’s Community Service Award in 1994. He had a role in the first induction ceremony in 2002 when the Northwest Boxing Hall of Fame was established in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. He was inducted into the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
    And now he has a McArthur Lifetime Achievement Award to add to his collection. Congratulations, Tom.