Walters, Olson put on good show at Bridge Battle boxing event

Jorey Olson said a chill shot up his spine as he heard "Welcome to the Jungle" blast through the loudspeakers at Grandma's Sports Garden, which cued Duluth boxer Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters to enter the ring at the Bridge Battle pro boxing event on...

Gary Eyer
Gary Eyer of Duluth (left) delivers a punch to Scott Robinson of Chippewa Falls, Wis., during a four-round light welterweight fight at Horton's Gym Bridge Battle at Grandma's Sports Garden Thursday. (Clint Austin /

Jorey Olson said a chill shot up his spine as he heard "Welcome to the Jungle" blast through the loudspeakers at Grandma's Sports Garden, which cued Duluth boxer Zach "Jungle Boy" Walters to enter the ring at the Bridge Battle pro boxing event on Thursday night.

"I hear that and it's like, 'Oh great! Who's Zach going to knock the heck out of this time,' " Olson said. "Then I realized, 'Oh ..., that's me.' "

Walters was a late substitution for Anthony Wallace of Brainerd, Minn., who was scratched Tuesday with a medical issue. Walters decided to fill in, and while it was just an exhibition, his appearance stole the show.

"How can't he steal the show?" said Olson, 27. "People love him. I love him. It was just awfully nice for Zach to help me out like that. If it hadn't been for him, I would have been sitting here watching the fights just like everybody else. This is all part of my natural progression. This is my next step."

Olson is a former high school football player who graduated from Proctor in 2000. He has been boxing for about three years and was looking forward to making his professional debut against Wallace in a scheduled four-round cruiserweight bout. Instead, he took on Walters, someone he has sparred with and served as an usher in Olson's wedding. But the good friends slugged it out and entertained the crowd, even if Walters, Minnesota's light heavyweight champion, held back a little. The boxers wore headgear in what really amounted to a spirited sparring match.


"Believe me, if Zach gave me everything he had, I would have folded a lot quicker," Olson said of Walters, who wasn't available for comment. "There is a reason the guy's the champ."

Olson will now have to wait until Bridge Battle II June 18 at Grandma's Sports Garden to make his pro debut.

"After high school, it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do," Olson said. "I love boxing, and now, I'll just have to wait until June 18, and then hopefully, there will no backing out next time."


Duluth boxer Gary Eyer gave the crowd a show by flooring Scott Robinson of Chippewa Falls, Wis., at 2:36 in the second round of their light welterweight rematch. Robinson apparently

didn't like how their first fight was stopped early, but this one left no doubt that Eyer is the better boxer.

Enobong "The Nigerian Gentleman" Umohette, Tyler Hultin of Fergus Falls, Minn., and Dave Peterson of Mounds View, Minn., also were impressive in winning their bouts.

In a disappointment for the hometown fans, Hector Orozco (1-1) of Minneapolis earned a split decision over R.J. Laase (4-1) in a four-round light welterweight bout, handing the Duluth boxer his first professional loss. Laase was clearly disappointed but handled the loss with class, conceding that Orozco fought the better fight Thursday and vowing to learn from it.


"[Orozco] got the best of me [Thursday night]. That's boxing, but I'm not done," Laase said.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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