Here’s the first segment of the interview with the retired boxer, Zach Walters. Stay tuned as I’ll be releasing the remainder of the interview in just a few short days.
Q: When you retired in 2009 what went through your mind the next day?
A: I was dumb struck. The decision to move on from boxing was not a wishy-washy decision. I knew I meant what I did and the thoughts of “what’s next?” rushed through my brain. I remember sitting on the bottom step of my stairwell as my wife left for work. I’d usually head out to train when she left, but this time it was different. I felt like working out, but I didn’t have a goal. I wanted to do something, but didn’t know what to do. I sat there with the feeling I’d just lost a job. It was gut-wrenching.
I went back up stairs and went to bed and slept the morning away. After lunch I tried to accomplish something meaningful, but I just keep looking at the time thinking of what I would be doing if I was still fighting.
Q: How did you adjust since you had been the pride of Duluth, in terms of boxing?
A: I looked at my time as “pride of Duluth” as a good run and settled on the idea I would fade into being anonymous among boxing fans. It was a tough adjustment as I struggled to keep up with bills and maintain my pride in self. My whole identity was jacked up. I felt like I was crawling, learning how to walk again.
Q: You seemingly have been removed from the public spotlight of boxing for the last two years. Were you still involved with the sport behind the scenes?
A: I had initially planned to stay out of the gym for a whole year then get back into boxing in some regard. I didn’t know what that day would look like, but I knew I wanted to be involved somehow. About 4 months had gone by and I felt a void of sorts. I stopped into Horton’s Gym and asked Chuck Horton if I could help out some with training. I explained my thoughts and I said I was welcome any time to assist with the training at the gym.
I got involved as a trainer, and helped ref some public workouts for our boxers. Then, Chuck Horton suggested I get licensed so I could corner the boxers at shows. I agreed. Several months later I started helping Gary Eyer with matching boxers for our amateur shows. Gary had a big boxing match on the plate and asked if I’d take on more of the amateur boxing responsibilities. I agreed. Training the boxers and being a part of their young careers was a lot of fun. I have a lot to give as a trainer and running the amateur program was very fun.
Q: You had made such a name for yourself with a good record as a professional, why did you make the decision to not train pro fighters?
A: The professional boxing side of boxing is a completely separate entity to the sport. Different weight classes, different coaches, different scoring and rules, and different strategy. It was new enough to perk my interest yet still use much of the knowledge I’d absorbed over the years as a fighter. I may get into it someday, but for now I like training a new set of boxers. Ones that I helped train from the start.
Q: Did your wife notice anything, in terms of behaviors, that you wanted to get back into boxing? For example, when you two were on walks was boxing starting to come out more and more?
A: Ha ha. I asked her this, and she said she never thought I’d be all the way out of the sport. When we met, I was still an amateur boxer with big talk of a future successful career. She considered boxing a part of my character, and she was not at all surprised with my gradual return to participating in boxing.
Q: Judging by how you look you appear to be in good shape, do you ever think about wanting to give the fans one last professional show as a boxer?
A: I do keep in good shape with running and lifting weights. Yes, I have thought about a ‘farewell fight’, but it’s hasn’t progressed any farther. I got a few calls for short notice fights with pretty nice paydays in early 2010. These were tough to turn down cause I needed the money and times were tough.
I am sticking to my decision, though. Now my sights are set on being a trainer and helping others enjoy the sport. I have a great career going for me as an independent insurance agent with Great Lakes Insurance Agency. Because of this occupation, I can make my own hours to allow time to train boxers. It’s a goal of mine to be successful as a trainer. I’d like to help lay the foundation for boxers to go much further with boxing than I ever did. That would be the coolest.
Please come back in a few days to read the next segment of the interview.