8-year-old, partially deaf boxer packs punch at Detroit's Downtown Boxing Gym

Ben Luna lost hearing in his right ear due to meningitis

DETROIT – Don't let his 4-foot, 70-pound frame fool you. They call him "The Bull" for a reason.

"When you go up there, you're excited you're about to fight someone," said 8-year-old Ben Luna.

Ben has been boxing since he was 3 years old. His dad, Vincent Luna, saw his son had a special talent and has coached him ever since. Whenever these two train, they train hard, whether it be at their home, or at the Downtown Boxing Gym on the city's east side.

You could tell right from the get-go, Luna packed a punch.

"Other kids really don't move like that," said Coach Khali, founder of the Downtown Boxing gym. "Ben, he has a sense for it. When you go for his head, he automatically ducks. It's second nature to him."

But two years ago, Ben got a diagnosis that almost knocked him out of the game.

"It was meningitis," said Vincent Luna. "Bone had grown in his ear, and he wouldn't be able to hear ever again."

Ben completely lost hearing in his right ear. For most people, it would be manageable. For a boxer, where balance is critical, it's an entirely different story.

"Sometimes I mess up and can't hear, sometimes," Ben said.

Despite the disability, Ben wanted to continue boxing. So "The Bull" took charge.

"I think boxing actually helped him to regain his balance because he's on his feet so much," said his father.

From time to time, Ben might miss a call from a referee in the ring, but he got himself back in fighting shape. Two weeks ago, not only did he reach his goal of competing in the National Title Tournament, he won and has the hardware to prove it.

There have been challenges, but Ben's dad said it's his son's fighting spirit that will serve him well in life.

Ben is also a straight-A student. The 3rd-grader simply sits at the front of the class and the teacher wears a specially designed microphone so he can hear.

About the Author:

Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.