Finally, here’s the last installment of the Zach Walters interview. I hope you enjoy
Q: As a former fighter, has it been difficult to make the transition to being a coach?
A: Yes, it was tough. Along with the things I noted above I remember holding mitts for a kid in the gym and had the urge to slip the punch and counter. Ha ha. I have accidentally punched a few of my boxers when demonstrating combinations. Now it’s better, but sometimes I get a little goofy holding mitts.
Q: What do you see for Jungle Boy gym ten years from now?
A: I see us having a successful program, and God willing some national caliber boxers.
Q: What are you hoping that jungle boy gym will give to the youth outside of boxing?
A: Life skills. There is some much to learn between the lines of boxing; seeing the cause and effect of perseverance and hard work. Learning to deal with losses and using the emotion to push to higher goals instead of giving up. Feeling success. This is huge. Some boxers come from a place where much of life seems to be out of control. A win in the ring is bigger than just getting the “W.” It gives pride in self, and hopefully their lives will improve one win at a time.
Q: Do you make demands of your boxers i.e. if they get into trouble in the community or have school issues, they can’t fight on a card or have to take time away from the gym?
A: There are expectations I have of them to be a part of boxing at my gym. Losing out on gym attendance is not one of them. I think taking away an activity that has a positive element to it is not the key to helping a person. There are creative solutions to dealing with behavior that can be done within the gym. Pushing them away is not constructive to being a better boxer or learning life lessons.
Q: What goes into planning a card? How many weeks or days does it take?
A: “Thursday Night Fights!” These shows have become a cornerstone of our amateur program, but it’s not easy. Planning a fight is a total mind boggling activity. Calling around to find out who is willing and available to box is just the start. Hosting a week night boxing card makes it tough to get teams from out of town. Nonetheless, I have been blessed to have some great coaches to work with. Their boxers come ready to fight and they have learned to work with the boxing schedule. Then there’s the fight night. I must say the Grandma’s Sports Garden Staff help out a great deal with the events. They have learned to take good care of the fight crowds and they keep the events safe for all that come to the fights. It takes a full month of focus. Every day I think of the show. The pressure doesn’t leave till the day after the show. Ask any amateur boxing coach and he’ll agree. Ha ha. These shows will age a person. It’s all for the boxers though so at the end of the night if all the boxers and their supporters has a good time it’s worth it.
Q: What made you choose amateur boxing over pros since in amateur boxing you don’t get paid?
A: I chose amateur boxing because there is a lot less pressure involved with it. The pro side of things is like running a business on top of teaching the skills needed to fight. There is so much non-boxing stuff involved with pro boxing I just wanted to stick to making fighters. If they choose to move on to the pros that is their own thing. I don’t plan to take that step any time soon. I get paid with my work as an insurance agent. That pays my bills. Not boxing any more.
Q: Your shows bring a unique feel why is that important to you?
A: We try to couple the entertainment value of a professional event with the Golden Gloves boxing shows we host. This adds to the experience of the fight fans that support the boxers and the boxers get to feel a piece of what it’s like to have a mass of people cheering for them. The atmosphere is unique to other amateur boxing events as we have ring girls, professional announcers, half time entertainment, and consistent awards. This is important for boxing as there is many other things folks can spend their time and money doing. Boxing needs to step it up to keep the fans’ attention and love of boxing.
Q: What’s been the most difficult about your new career?
A: I miss telling people ‘I’m a professional boxer’ when asked what I do for a living.
Q: Why and how has your new career been just as rewarding as your professional career?
A: The reward comes when I get to play a part in the success of my boxers. Seeing them win is almost as thrilling as winning a fight myself. It’s a great feeling.
Q: How long have you been married?
A: 3 and a half years
What’s your wife’s name (sorry old age I forgot)?
Q: How has she supported your boxing career?
A: She has allowed me to spend long hours at the gym and take weekends away for boxing shows on the road. She is supportive of what makes me happy.
Q: How did you meet and does she like boxing?
A: We met at a college party here in Duluth. She began to like boxing after we started dating. She likes it as much as the next boxing fan does, but now that I am not competitive in the sport she has become more laid back about keeping up with the big fights and stuff.
I hope you enjoyed my interview series, and shout out to Zach Walters for taking the time to answer my questions.