Where we STARTED and where we’re GOING
History is important and it helps put things in perspective. How did Jungle Boy Boxing Gym start? There’s a story there…
2009 was my final year of living my dream of being a full-time professional boxer. The era of “Jungle Boy” as local boxing attraction was over. Hanging up the gloves was a major change for me. Boxing was my one obsession since I was 15 years old. The sport had become my identity and my absolute way of life. The following year had a rough start. In 2010, I battled depression.. I worked hard to start my new career the insurance business, but things were different. I was busy starting my next chapter in life, but I missed boxing; the excitement of an upcoming fight and thrill of competition. It was in my blood. In the core of who I was. I felt lost. Aimless…
I remember one day thinking about all the thousands of hours I’d spent learning the sport of boxing. After 14 years in the sport, I had acquired all this boxing knowledge and now I wasn’t doing anything with it. What a waste.
One day after an appointment I stopped by Horton’s Gym to check in with Chuck and see the other boxers. It was a little awkward seeing everyone and not being a part of training. I liked it though. Right away I didn’t want to leave. That’s when I saw a new boxer off in the corner of the gym shadowboxing. He was obviously new and looked like he could use some help. I walked over and helped him get comfortable with a few basics. Then took him over to a heavy bag and coached him on applying his punches. It was an instant fit!
At that moment I realized I had something to offer back to boxing. I could coach! I asked Chuck if I could stop by a couple nights a week to drop in and help out. He said “of course” it was ok. This quickly turned into consistently helping out at the gym every week. Before I knew it, Chuck asked if I would be interested in taking on the role of amateur boxing coach at Horton’s Gym. Chuck and Jack O’Brien primarily trained Pro Boxers so I jumped on the opportunity. This was it! I secured a new place in the gym. I was back to doing the one thing I have always loved, BOXING.
The more I coached the more I felt like it was something I was destined to do. I had my college degree in psychology which helped me develop a unique coaching philosophy. I took all the lessons I learned through experience and converted them into a teachable format. I loved being able to give back to a sport that had given me so much.
I closed out 2010 feeling pretty good. It felt like I was starting to find my post pro career life. My insurance career was picking up and my role at the gym felt like a great fit. Then on a cold March day in 2011, Chuck Horton called me up mid- afternoon and asked to meet about something important. He had that “Shark” intensity I had heard many times before when I was being trained by him.
I met Chuck at his place and we took a walk around his neighborhood. This is when Chuck asked me something I NEVER saw coming… He asked if would take over the gym. I was speechless. Right away I wanted to say yes, but I was nervous. It felt like a monumental undertaking. Talk about BIG shoes to fill…Chuck Horton was a huge influence in boxing and had left accomplishments worthy of two lifetimes. It was intimidating, but then it struck me that this was the opportunity of a lifetime and I’d surely regret it if I passed it up. “I’m in.” I said as I agreed to take things over. I told him I’d bring honor to the Horton’s Gym legacy, but Chuck said “No. You get the gym stuff. All you gotta to is come up with a new name.
We then drove to the gym. Upon walking in in Chuck called everyone to attention and dropped the news. “I’m giving the gym to Jungle. Thank you everyone for the memories. My days in the gym are over” and turned around and left. I stood there. Paralyzed with a deer in the head lights look on my face. Around the gym were a couple dozen blank stare from the boxers training that day. I stared back for a few seconds. My mind was blank. Then I just told everyone to just go back to what they were doing and said we’d figure things out. Chuck’s departure from boxing was something no one saw coming. I understood why he left the gym so abruptly. I knew it was hard on him.
From that day forward, I was a gym owner.
It wasn’t hard to think of a name. Right away I thought of somehow using Jungle Boy in the name. I had spent 8 years building the Jungle Boy brand as a professional boxer so I figured it would be smart to roll with the name and continue building the brand. In May of 2011 year I officially renamed the gym to Jungle Boy Boxing Gym. This was the beginning of a new chapter for me.
Jungle Boy Boxing Gym has given me hundreds of great stories. I jumped into the boxing scene head first with Jungle Boy Boxing Gym. I restructured the Amateur Boxing program to create a team of tournament boxers. I also returned to the pro boxing scene by training professional boxers, matchmaking fights, and promoting shows. The pro shows grew and evolved in to local events. The tournament boxers started to win championships and the gym earned a reputation of turning out great boxers. Later on, I started a morning workout class that has been super fun. I never thought I’d enjoy teaching boxing for fitness, but I love it! I’ve been able to introduce hundreds of people to boxing and give them a solid foundation. I have also mentored many people through critical life transitions. It’s clear to see lives have been made better through Jungle Boy Boxing Gym. That’s the ultimate purpose of the gym… Make a difference and teach the art of boxing. To sum it up, the gym brings me so much joy.
So, what’s next? What’s the next 10 years look like for our boxing program? The COVID-19 shut downs have given me an opportunity to reflect and plan. I have made the decision to do a rebrand of the gym starting with the name. The new name will be Jungle Gym. Very simple. This gym will be open 24/7 and it will have several programs in it. Jungle Gym will be the first of its kind in Duluth. With around the clock access, we can serve even more people. This will be great. Now you can stop in a punch out a workout and time you like!!
The boxing program will be called Jungle Gym Boxing Academy. This will be the 4:00 -6:00 PM competition boxing class that meets Monday – Thursday.
Next is Rise-n-Fight. This is the name of the Morning fitness boxing class that meets 6:30 – 7:30 AM Monday/Wednesday/Friday.
Next is a new training method called Quick Smash. This will be offered 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. This will be a fast-paced training session to fight off calories with sprint style boxing workout. I think this will be a hit!
Lastly, the new gym will have an MMA class on Fridays from 7:00-9:00. “Jungle Gym MMA” The class will be instructed by Adam Lynn. I met Adam when speaking to kids at Woodland Hills. We got to talking between classes one day and I found out Adam knew a thing or two about the fight game! Adam is a long-time student of mixed martial arts. His MMA roots come from his days in the U.S. Air force when he was stationed in the Netherlands. Adam knows his stuff and outside of that, he’s a really good dude! I think he’ll be a great addition to the Jungle Culture we’ve grown to love. With time, I believe he will turn out some competitive fighters.
I know it’s a lot to chew on. I have put nearly 3 years into this idea. I didn’t get to this point without lots of thought. There’s a website being made for the new idea and I will also expand on all the new stuff coming up over the next few weeks. My goal is to share this experience with you guys and make you a part of things.
So that’s it! That’s the future of the gym. I am really excited about this next chapter. Right now, I am going through the process of building out the new location on W 1st Street. The plan is to have the gym ready to open around the time the Corona Virus closures open up. It sounds like that will be mid to late summer.
The Jungle Gym will have 250 ‘Charter Member’ push up front to get things started. This is a discounted rate. These 250 members need to be in place before we open the new place. Once we open the new spot the rates go up. The overhead is much more than our current place so we need to work together to make this a reality.
I want to make sure all our current members get in first and have the opportunity to sign up their friends. If you just paid your current gym dues prior to the gym closure your new billing will be credited. I do need you to sign up now though if you want to catch the Charter Membership deal.
I am going to put in a huge push on marketing and once that happens the Charter memberships will fill quickly.
For now, all you do to get your charter membership is pay your first month. After the first month billing will resume and go month to month.