Tom Archdeacon: Springboro's Doliboa brothers still a formidable duo

Apr. 25—DAYTON — No matter what the venture, the Doliboa brothers — Cain and Seth — have always been a formidable one-two punch: — You saw it when they were star teammates on the Springboro High School and Wright State University basketball teams. — It's been evident for over a decade as successful business partners with their Catalyst Custom Homes company which caters to Springboro, Centerville, and the surrounding communities in the Greater Dayton area. — And most recently they've shown themselves to be visionary resurrectionists — thanks in a big way to Seth's wife, Ashley, who first saw what they did not — as they transformed a forlorn, 124-year-old former ice cream cone factory in East Dayton into a wondrous, multi-level, events center called The Lift.

The 20,000 square foot facility already has hosted nearly five dozen weddings, as well as graduation parties, events for the University of Dayton and other ventures in its first year of operation.

Now the Doliboa brothers are hoping they can turn their "one-two" approach into a real knockout punch.

With the help of Daniel Meza-Cuadra, who owns and is the head trainer of the DMC Boxing Academy in Centerville, the Doliboa brothers are putting on an 18-bout amateur fight show Saturday evening at The Lift, which is located sat 114 S. June Street.

Headlining the amateur fight card will be super-middleweight Andrew "Jrue" Zammit, the star of the DMC gym. He fought in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the 2024 Paris Games and will turn pro after the National Golden Gloves competition next month.

Zammit (37-3) meets Edwin Romero in the 165-pound main event. Other featured boxers include Thomas Diamond, who fought in the U.S. Nationals at 154pounds and Mia Miller, a 15-year-old Miamisburg High student.

While many boxers on the card come from DMC, Meza-Cuadra said their opponents are from Detroit, Indiana, Kentucky, Toledo, Youngstown, and Columbus.

The fight show starts at 5 p.m. Tickets, which range from $30 general admission and $50 for ringside seats to $400 for ringside tables that seat eight, can be purchased at the door or by going to :

While the Doliboa brothers are new to fight promotion — Seth admits he's never been to a live boxing event — they're no strangers to the sports spotlight.

Both are in the Springboro High Athletics Hall of Fame.

In college, the 6-foot-7 Cain played in 60 games over three seasons for the Oliver Purnell-coached Dayton Flyers before a back injury sidelined him and he transferred to Wright State, then led by Ed Schilling.

After sitting out the 2000-2001 season to meet NCAA transfer rules, Cain started all 28 games the following season.

The 6-foot-8 Seth, who is two years younger and had played his freshman and sophomore seasons with Cain at Springboro, went to Bowling Green after high school, started 17 games for the Falcons and then announced he was heading to WSU to play with his brother.

He, too, sat out the 2000-2001 season and then played three years with the Raiders — the first one with Cain, who was in his last collegiate season.

That 17-11 season, the Doliboas were the Raiders two leading scorers: Cain averaging 16.8 points per game and Seth 16.3. Seth was the Raiders' top rebounder (7 per game) and Cain was third (5.0)

"Looking back that was a really fun year, " said Cain. "Our dad got to watch all the games. It was great being on the court once more with my brother."

Seth played 90 games for the Raiders and scored 1,500 points.

This past season he was inducted into the WSU Athletics Hall of Fame.

Following college, he played professionally for nine years.

After two seasons in the NBA D (now G) League, he played five seasons with Benfica in Portugal, where in 2008-09 he was the MVP of both the Portuguese League's regular season and the All-Star Game. He also played a year in Turkey and one in Germany.

While Seth was overseas, Cain — who had played professionally in France for a year — was back in Springboro guiding Catalyst Custom Homes which their dad began decades earlier. From afar, Seth said he stayed in daily contact with his brother to add input.

Once Seth left basketball in 2014 and returned home, the brothers teamed up again the way they once did on the court.

When they decided to diversify their business, they searched for a property to develop in the city of Dayton.

"We're Dayton people," Seth said. "It's what we love and what we wanted to support.

"And we felt Dayton would support us."

'This is it'

"We found when we play basketball, we get along with each other really well," Cain said. "Seth was more athletic than me and I stayed more around the perimeter and shot, so we really didn't get in each other's way on the court."

That same formula works for them as builders, he said:

"We divide the business up 50-50, so we have our own homeowners and run our own jobs. But we have lunch together every day. I feel fortunate because my brother and I are the closest of friends. And our families are, too."

When they bought the old building on June Street just off E. Fifth Street in 2016, they brothers relied on Ashley's initial vision.

"When I first walked in, all I saw an old-ass factory," Cain laughed.

The original 1900 building had been expanded in 1930, but it had been abandoned for many years and most recently served as a thrift store storage unit.

The Doliboas first issue was the roof.

"When it rained outside, it rained inside,' Seth said. "There were probably 100 buckets setting around inside collecting water.

"We started with a new roof — that was the easiest issue we had to deal with — and then we stripped everything down to the barebones inside. It took two years of construction to build it back up."

The biggest challenge was the stairway they planned as a dramatic entrance to the first of their two floors of event space.

"Over a year into the project, we found we had a main 12-inch gas line that supplies the whole St. Anne's neighborhood running where we'd planned to dig our footer," Seth said.

"When we couldn't do that, I'm thinking, 'Oh my gosh, are we done here?'

"I had four or five sleepless nights just lying there thinking, 'Did we do all this for nothing? Is the project dead?'"

"Then we came up with the plan to drop the whole (entrance ) down, demo everything out, and add a steel beam (for support)."

The result was a different but equally dramatic look.

"I love how it looks now," Seth said. "Do I like the cost that came with it? No, but the project was saved, and we've ended up with a great place."

While they had bought the building for a bargain basement $250,000, they would end up putting over $3 million into it, Seth said.

They named the building The Lift because the old service lift the factory once used was still operational and they use it now to get equipment from one level to the next."

Seth took me on a tour of the building the other day and explained how it would be set up or a wedding for as many as 300 guests.

The first floor had a large area for a social/cocktail gathering and, next to it, an expansive space for the wedding service.

The second floor included a large open room for the dinner and an adjacent large space for a dance floor with a DJ area and portable bar. There was also a bridal suite, a groom's suite, and another loft area upstairs.

"When we first walked in all those years ago, Ashley said, 'This is it!'" Seth said. And she was right."

Connection to boxing

The Doliboa brothers connection to boxing came when Cain brought his son Zeke to the DMC about a year and a half ago.

"He's a pretty good basketball player already, but I wanted to toughen him up a little bit," Cain said. "I told him, 'If you can go in the ring right there, knowing you're going to get hit in the face at some point, and that doesn't do anything to you, then all the other sports are going to be easy. You won't be nervous.'

"I mean if you lose a basketball game, it's not because you got knocked out doing it. "My son was in the ring sparring with a kid his age last weekend. He came home with a bruise on his face, but it didn't faze him. I said, 'Well, you didn't cry, that's good!'"

Cain, who just turned 45, has begun working out with Meza-Cuadra twice a week for fitness and said "It's changed my life as far as my cardio (health)."

In the process he and Meza-Cuadra have developed a real friendship.

"I see what he's doing with a lot of the young men in there," Cain said. "He's got some young guys in there, where this is it for them. They came from some bad situations and he's turned things around for them and given them purpose and success."

A few of the boxers will testify to that, none more so than Zammit, who was estranged from his mother, didn't know his dad, and ended up living in four states, going to four high schools and briefly to college. He was floundering until he walked into the gym.

"I know every boxer says this, but for me it literally is true" he once told me. "Boxing saved my life."

Cain has hard those stories and is a proponent of Meza-Cuadra and his efforts:

"Danny is a great man in our community."

That prompted the Doliboas partnership with him. They have since bought a ring and have DMC Boxing emblazoned on the center of the canvas.

"This is our first event, but we're hoping to put on shows every two months or so," Seth said. "I think it will be something people like and, over time, I hope this becomes a big deal."

One day he envisions them hosting a black-tie dinner boxing show; helping support the development of local boxers; and possibly hosting bigger boxing shows at a larger venue.

"We're kind of feeling our way through the dark in this first one, but we have a vision, we're putting in the work and we're hoping for the best," he said.

The Doliboa brothers believe that old "one, two" approach that's worked so well for them in the past will turn into a real knockout punch now.