By Ron Preston
A former Abilene High School wrestler is returning to the mat as a professional. Only this time the mat will be a boxing ring.
Pat Casteel, class of 2000, recently received his professional boxing card and will have his first professional match Aug. 13 at the Topeka Expocentre. Casteel, currently a sixth grade special education teacher in Topeka, debuts in a heavyweight match on that ticket.
Born and raised in Abilene, Pat wrestled for the Cowboys under coaches Bill Christner and James Stout. Following AHS he attended Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
While in college he picked up boxing as a hobby, and trained for a couple of years. He later competed in a local Kansas Tough Man Boxing competition where he won the tournament as a heavyweight.
“I’ve always liked boxing,” Casteel said. “In college, I had a buddy that kind of urged me to try out boxing. I went down to the local boxing gym in St. Charles to try it out and I really kind of fell in love with it. I just like it a lot.”
After college, he stopped boxing to pursue other sports, primarily bodybuilding and mixed martial arts, while boxing was put on the back burner. His inner yearning for boxing however never left.
Now a 6th grade special education teacher, Pat has continued to dabble a lit in boxing since moving to the state capital city. He recently turned 34, realizing time was not on his side, and decided it was time to see how far he could take boxing as a side career.
“Over the last couple of years I just got the urge to see how far I could take this,” Casteel said. “I want to impress my three year old son. ‘He’ll be able to say his dad wasn’t an average Joe, he did a little extra stuff.’ I really want to impress my wife too.”
That urge or inner competitive spirit has quieted in Casteel. His first professional fight is currently slated as one of a dozen fights on the Topeka ticket.
Helping him prepare for the fight while training at Dangerfire Boxing is professional boxer Damon Reed. Reed, a pretty accomplished fighter himself, is working with Pat to prepare for the big event.
“Damon fought for the heavyweight title back in his prime,” Casteel said. “He definitely knows the ropes and the business side of it too.”
Depending on the outcome of his fight, Casteel will determine his future as a professional boxer. Until then he is working hard to prepare for his first time in the ring as a professional.
“How I do in the professional fight is going to be important,” he said. “It’s going to set the tone. If it goes as I hope it does, I want to make it a side career.”
Casteel is humbled and appreciative of the support from his family and friends. Especially his wife Cristin. Cristin (Hartman) Casteel is also an Abilene native and a 2001 AHS graduate. Both Pat and Cristin have family in Abilene.
“I am super humbled and super appreciative for anybody in Abilene that has been a part of my story,” Pat said. “Sending their support or coming to see the fight, it is really special to me and that is from my heart.”