There was a moment during the 2012 Olympic trails when Team USA's top-seeded female middleweight, Franchon Crews, wanted to give up. A self-described "creature of energy," Crews said she felt the weight of negative energy around her. But she didn't give up thanks to encouragement from her training partner, Glenn Dezurn.
"In a room full of people yelling, the only person I could hear was Glenn. He spoke to my soul: 'You better not give up on yourself!'" Crews recalled. "That was something I had never experienced before."
Despite ultimately failing to qualify for the London Games, the Olympic trials turned out to be the beginning of a unique bond between Crews and Dezurn, one that transcended the gym when the two married that September. Five years later, both partnerships continue. Inside the ring, Crews helped Dezurn (8-0, 6 KOs) prepare for his bout against Leroy Davila (5-0, 3 KOs) on Friday's "ShoBox: The New Generation" card on Showtime as his primary sparring partner.
"Without my wife, I wouldn't have a pro career. She's helped me a lot in and out of the ring. She actually changed my life. Our relationship is give and take. It's a beautiful thing." Glenn Dezurn
"It's normal," Dezurn said of sparring with his wife. "She has top-notch skill and experience. She can keep me a lot more honest in the ring than a lot of guys. ... She knows me and I know her. She knows my tendencies, so I have to work a lot harder to compete with her."
Crews, also a professional boxer (1-1, 1 KOs) and an eight-time national amateur champion, stands 3 inches taller than Dezurn at 5-foot-7. As a middleweight, she has a size advantage over her husband, who fights at junior featherweight. But, as Dezurn said, their relationship as training partners works because of how well they know one another. He continues to help his wife train for fights, including when she made her professional debut against former amateur rival Claressa Shields in November.
"You always want individuals who you can trust and who are loyal to you and honest with you, because you're gonna have people around you who just say, 'Oh, you're the best,'" Crews said. "But Glenn, as my training partner, he was always pushing me to be better and he wouldn't let me shortchange myself. And that transcended into marriage.
"He's always pushing me, like, 'You can do it. Let's do it.' He doesn't think twice. He believes in me 120 percent and I believe in him the same way. We just push each other to be the best at whatever we do."
"He's always pushing me, like, 'You can do it. Let's do it.' He doesn't think twice. He believes in me 120 percent and I believe in him the same way. We just push each other to be the best at whatever we do." Franchon Crews
Life together means boxing is almost always part of the picture. It's meal prepping. It's waking up together to run at 6 a.m. when one is training for an upcoming fight. It's traveling from their home in Baltimore to Washington to train at Headbangers Boxing Gym.
"It's a normal household. But everything revolves around training and doing what we have to do," Crews said. "When we're home, every minute of the day could be training. Things like, 'Franchon don't eat that' or 'Glenn don't eat that.'"
Of course, their relationship also includes some typical married-life things, like a trip to IHOP on the morning of a big day. Such as the day of Dezurn's first nationally televised fight, where he sat with his wife, reflecting on how she and their relationship, which initially developed in the ring, have influenced his boxing career.
"Without my wife, I wouldn't have a pro career," Dezurn said. "She's helped me a lot in and out of the ring. She actually changed my life. Our relationship is give and take. It's a beautiful thing."