As promised, here is the second of three posts of the Zach Walters interview. Really interesting stuff here.
Q: How did you make the decision to take the leap instead of just thinking about it to work as an amateur coach?
A: The “leap” to get involved with amateur boxing came as I did my best to keep up with what Gary Eyer and Chuck Horton had put in place with the amateur program. It was like I was a jogger trying to keep up with sprinters. The amount of work it takes to put on consistent boxing shows, take the team on the road to gain experience, and be a coach-mentor is trying.
Q: When the mayor offered you the gym, what went through your mind especially since the building was going to be torn down?
A: Mayor Don Ness showed a lot to me when he stuck his neck out to help with the boxing program. Chuck Horton had wanted to gain a partnership with the city for quite some time and made a lot of waves trying to make it happen. Jungle Boy Boxing Gym is a 501 C3 nonprofit organization committed to helping youth through the tough times life can through at us. When Mayor Ness contacted me it validated what I was doing. I was humbled by his offer to let me use the park building. He mentioned that the building had been on a list of buildings to be torn down and that didn’t sound good. After a few meetings the building was brought up to code and fixed up enough to move in.
Q: Tell me about your gym and your overall goal?
A: The goals of Jungle Boy Boxing Gym are to help others enjoy boxing while at the same time helping with other parts of life. We see being a boxer not so much as something a person does, it’s a way of life. I explain to my boxers that it’s important to have a foundation outside the gym that supports a stable life. School, friends, work, family, living healthy, avoiding drugs and crime… It’s all part of being a boxer. If things outside the gym are in disarray it’s hard to focus on being a champion. How much more can a boxer charge toward his goals when life is in order outside the gym? I tell my boxers I have goal bigger than just teaching them to box well. I mean it.
Q: Since you were such a big name boxer, did you feel pressure to have to produce good boxers as a trainer?
A: Sort of at first, then I realized I have much to learn in terms of translating what I into a teachable format. Different boxers are at different levels of training needs and building them up from basics was tough at first. I was all into strategy and how to beat certain fighters when fundamentals were needed early on.
I don’t feel pressure to bring my boxers to success. If they listen and fight through the frustrating learning curve I’m confident they will do just fine. What is more important is where they go after boxing. A boxing career is but a short time in the span of life. I want them to have fun with boxing and learn life lessons that they can take with to be successful after. If a boxer remains teachable I have a lot to teach. I learned a great deal from my years with Chuck Horton.
Q: Many fighters just entirely leave the sport once they are finished fighting. why did you feel that it was important to give back to boxing?
A: Boxing has been a big part of my life and opened doors for me that wouldn’t have otherwise. I feel called into being a boxing trainer in a similar way a person feels called to be a missionary.
You see, I lived as a missionary kid the first 11 years of life in Madagascar. When I was boxing pro, I had a goal to satisfy if I won with world title. I wanted to open a Christian group home that used boxing as part of its program. That combination ultimately redirected my crooked path. Why wouldn’t it work for others? I gained so much from boxing. I’m not a taker. I give back.
These are way up there with why I feel it’s important to give back to the sport.
Make sure you guys return shortly to read the final installment of the interview, and be sure to check out more of Chuck Horton’s blogs about boxing and fitness.