Jamal James looked good on August 8th when he defeated Thomas Dulorme to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) Interim Welterweight belt in one of the most watched bouts since the return of the sport after the pandemic.
“Shango” got into boxing big leagues thanks to his victory in Los Angeles and he thinks about big names, but his rise is due to his discipline and perseverance, something he learned from a very young age.
At the age of five, he began his boxing training at the Circle of Discipline (COD), a South Minneapolis institution that helps young people in the community and was very important to the WBA Champion, as he said in an interview with the Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder newspaper.
James said the lessons learned from his childhood were vital for his preparation in the midst of the pandemic, with frequent date changes and uncertainty surrounding his fight with Dulorme.
“It was a lot different because you have to be quarantined up. No complaints. So happy and blessed to get a fight. Thankful to bring that belt back”, he said.
The institute was founded in 1993 by its CEO, Sankara Frazier, a trainer and a paternal figure to him.
“He taught me that if you want to be the best at something, you can’t give up, you have to go all the way, you can’t give up”, James said about Frazier.
The tall 32-year-old fighter talked about the experience of fighting without an audience: “Once those punches start flying, a fight will be a fight. It was easier to listen to my corner and follow directions. I still love the support”.
“When you win a fight or get a title like this, the feeling is overwhelming. It was all worth it. I try to be humble. People show a lot of support. It feels good to know that all that hard work really pays off”, said James.
Inspired by what he learned with the COD, James created his own discipline program in 2017 that he runs independently. “It’s a leadership group that started at COD, made up of young men and women. We focus on financial education, how to be disciplined, how to behave and act, and dealing with peer pressure”, he said.
They tutor young people between the ages of 8 and 17, with classes held on Thursdays at 5 p.m. aiming to introduce them to various career options, especially with those in their senior year of high school.
“It’s really cool to provide those types of opportunities. Taking them around to business-owners helps make the idea of having a business believable and possible. We take them to the fire station, took them down to the Armory for a tour by Rich Richardson. Introduced them to the business side, promotions, corporate events”, James noted.
The WBA Champion stressed that he is grateful for what he learned in the Discipline Circle and wants to teach the youngsters to make the community better and give them opportunities for the future.