At Cowboy Cody’s Two-Bit Swap Shop, a hardtack boxer from the school of hard knocks spends most afternoons teaching teenagers how to spar with fate — and knock the life out of an Everlast heavy bag.
Veteran pugilist Cody Quarterman has fixed the back of his Main Street pawn shop into a no-frills gym where young boxers sweat for hours, punching, training and exorcising any personal demons seen fit to darken their workout.
Whether checking off a bucket list item or chasing a title, anyone is welcome to learn the “sweet science of bruising” punched to the double-jab, bag-music of the old maestro’s count — “1001, 1002, 1003.”
Ask “Sweet Johnny” Bublich, a Swap Shop alumni and success story. Bublich went from a hungry youth to a titled fighter under Quarterman’s training more than a decade ago. He has fought 61 matches and holds five boxing and three MMA titles. He also is an announcer at Sheridan’s Friday Night Fights.
“Cody pounds meat and potatoes boxing,” Bublich said. “Nothing flashy.”
The first time Bublich ever hit a heavy bag was in Quarterman’s shop.
“I was broke, living behind the clock,” Bublich said. “I had heard there was a boxing match in town that paid $125 to the winner. When I came in, I asked Cody, ‘Will you teach me?’”
Since that time, Bublich has been a friend and a grandfather figure.
“He always works my corner,” Bublich said.
Over the years, Quarterman has worked some 150 kids’ corners. Boxing is the art by which he teaches life skills, ethics and self-esteem. His students learn to get up and go the distance even when they’ve been down for the count, Quarterman said.
“People come in through these doors with their heads down,” Quarterman said. “I lift them up.”
Back in the day, Quarterman was known for his mean left hook and counter punching aggressive style. Almost 30 years after retirement, the 70-year-old is lean and fit. Scores of fights have etched their obituaries on a face that frames blue tiger eyes. Quarterman admires boxer Roberto Durán for his focus and stand-up fighting.
He also admires Alexis Arguello for his integrity and honor, having once helped up a hurt opponent during a match.
“I teach them humility,” Quarterman said about his students, “and to respect their opponent.”
Born here during the Great Blizzard of 1949, Quarterman learned boxing at a young age from his father, a career Navy man, semi-pro boxer and dead ringer for the Man in Black.
“My dad was a redneck from Savannah,” Quarterman said. “They called him the Johnny Cash of Wyoming. He looked like Johnny Cash, dressed like Johnny Cash and sang like Johnny Cash.”
As a kid, Quarterman boxed Silver Gloves, graduating into Golden Gloves as a teenager where he once boxed a prisoner in a David and Goliath match held at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins.
“Here I was this skinny, blonde-haired kid and this big hairy, muscle-bound guy comes out,” Quarterman said. “The crowd was like “Ohhhh! He’s gonna be killed. I knocked him out in the first round. I was 16 years old.”
Quarterman continued boxing in the Navy for a couple years, then attended the University of Wyoming where he earned a secondary education degree. He then was hired as a teacher/counselor at Wyoming Technical Institute in Laramie where he founded Mr. Cody’s Boxing Club for the students in 1983. He worked there for several years, continuing to fight. Finally at age 41, Cody fought his last fight; an exhibition fight against regional champion Gary Bower in Laramie.
He retired with nearly 120 fights with a majority of wins in amateur welter and middle-weight classes. After the fight in 1991, he returned to Sheridan, where he has continued coaching young boxers for free.
Over the years, Quarterman’s boxers have often highlighted Sheridan’s Friday Night Fights at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. Last year, Abby Sanders and Sammie Kinnison, female fighters, won their matches. While the fight was a bucket list dream come true for Sanders, it was a nightmare for her mom.
“My dad was all for it. My mom was not,” said 17-year-old Sanders.
“I fought against a Native American girl. She had lots of fights. I won that fight in the first round with a TKO. I was pretty excited. I won $100,” Sanders said.
“After the fight, my mother came and said, ‘I’ll never let you do that again.’”
This year’s protege is 6-foot, 17-year-old Nadja Gale who has trained under Quarterman for about eight months. She is training for fights in May and beyond, despite hardships faced as a female boxer.
“I’m going to follow my talent wherever it will take me,” Nadja said.
At the Two-Bit Swap Shop, Quarterman plans to continue teaching boxing as long as possible, turning aspiring boxers into formidable fighters inside the ring of life.
“You take a tour of Sheridan and you’ll see lots of people whose lives have gotten better because of this place,” Bublich said.
“This place — it’s more than just boxing.”