Sports column: Boxing coach, promoter Walters thrives on local successesZach Walters’ boxing career was nothing short of impressive, but now, Walters finds himself on the other side of the ring as not just a coach, but also a fight promoter.
By: Sarah Packingham, For the Budgeteer News
Zach Walters’ boxing career was nothing short of impressive, but now, Walters finds himself on the other side of the ring as not just a coach, but also a fight promoter.
With boxing continuing to grow in the Northland, there is something for Walters and fans alike to get excited about.
“What makes it exciting is we have talented fighters such as Gary Eyer and Al Sands who are dedicated to being real-deal pro boxers and not just club fighters,” Walters said. “The boxing community sees their hard work and respects what they are chasing after. Both Gary and Al want to be the World Champions.”
The most recent fights Walters promoted were held Saturday, April 27, at Black Bear Casino.
“Overall I think the boxing show was a great success,” Walters said. “We had a good crowd. Maybe 1000 people or so, and the fights turned out really well.”
Walters said his personal highlight of the show was Sands and Eyer winning their titles.
“I’m very proud of both for the hard work and dedication they’ve had that made their title fights come to fruition,” he said.
Although Walters’ career inside the boxing ring may be done, he still gets nervous when his fighters step inside the ropes.
“As a boxer I was nervous to get whooped up in front of the crowds of people that watched me fight,” Walters said. “That pushed me to train my butt off to make sure I was my best every time I boxed. As a coach I get nervous for my boxer as his success is a reflection of my success as a trainer. We are connected in that way.”
That Saturday night, Sands was ready to fight Lucas St. Claire. Sands was ready to battle through eight rounds if he had to, but needed only one. After a heated exchange in the first round, Sands dropped St. Claire with a left hook near the end of the round. This victory crowned him as state champion.
Eyer’s title fight against Blake Franklin lasted all eight rounds. Walters said he worked as the aggressor for eight rounds and earned the judge’s respect when he got the decision victory. He is now the NABU Lightweight Champion.
Walters had always hoped that his experience as a professional boxer would help those he trains.
“Going in, I felt I had a lot to offer by drawing on the experience I had as a fighter,” he said. “I didn’t know how this would translate in the gym because being a good boxer doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be a good coach. Having two champions feels good; I’ll be honest and say I didn’t see that coming.”
Every day, Walters is proud of what he and everyone at his gym have accomplished.
“I am proud of all the boxers in my gym,” he said. “Each boxer is at a different place in their training, but what’s the same is seeing their determination to improve.”
Those interested in boxing or in Walters’ gym, Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, can find more information online or via Facebook. Those interested are not required to compete, but can participate in the sport for the level of physical fitness it provides; but if competition is what you are looking for, it’s available.
“Gary “Eyer Man” Eyer and Al “Haitian Temptation” Sands are shining examples of what our gym can do for someone,” Walters said.