A Fighter in Life, A Fighter in the Ring
A Tough Sport...
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A Rough Start.....
Jon and Tony vividly recall the day their mother left them in the park and never returned. They had it rough and sometimes broke into cars to sleep in them. They stole food from gas stations and grocery stores. Neither boy knew their father and their mom got hooked on Heroin. ony was 13 years old an Jon was 11 when they were left to fend for themselves. Cold, hungry and scared to death, the two left the bus terminal and slept in bathrooms in places such as Walmart. These two boys felt like fugitives on the run but they still went to school for a few months until it was discovered they were homeless. Once they were called to the Principals office Tony convinced Jon that they were going to Juvenille and the guys left the school to never return. Jon was in the 7th grade and Tony was in the 9th when they quit. Life was going to get harder before it got easier it seemed.
Life on the Streets
No Fresh Clothes
From Rags to No Rags
Already poor when they lived with their mom the kids were now homeless and starving. In reality they should have went to a hospital or police station for help but they did not want foster care or a "kid" jail. Tony decided o steal food for them to eat while Jon would be the lookout. It was strictly about making it to the next day for these two unfortunate souls. The guys brushed there teeth and took sink baths at gas stations and fast food restaurants. They rotated wearing the one coat that they had and a few times they ate out of a dumpster when they could not get any food.
W.B.C. (World Boxing Counsel)
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What Am I Gonna Do?
Three times the kids were robbed of the few things they had over the three years they lived in the streets, literally. Jon was now 14 and Tony was 16. One night the two youngsters broke into a car so they could get out of the freezing weather and sleep for a few hours. At one point they were getting out of the automobile when a very tall, grown man approached with a switchblade and as he raised it toward Jon, Out of instinct, Jon ducked under the swing and came up with a huge right hand that laid the man out on his back. Tony flipped out as he bragged on his 13 year old brother win a knife fight against a grown man with only his fists. This was the first time that Jon realized he could fight and he had above average reflexes.
The Squared Circle
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The Hard Luck Boxing Club
While walking the city trying to prepare for their next move fate fell upon them. A large fruit basket was sitting on the steps of the Hard Luck Boxing Club. Jon walked up and grabbed the basket and as he started to run away he was caught with a right hand punch to the face. It was 65 year old Bill Smith, the trainer and owner of the gym. Tony who was running stopped to help his brother and was hit by a car when he ran out into the traffic. Coach Smith grabbed Jon and the stricken brother and rushed to the hospital where Tony died from severe head injuries.
Billy Smith took Jon in and told him he would help him become a champion if he put his all into it. So with tears in his eyes and a heavy heart Jon began to learn and train constantly.
William or Bill Smith trained several Golden Gloves champions and he even took two boxers to a Gold Medal in the Olympic games. Professional boxing success eluded him, however, and he was hungry for a champion. After learning of the boys struggles Coach Smith took Jon into his gym and into his home. Over the next three years Coach became more like a father to Jon and their bond was unbreakable.
Jon learned fast and compiled an amateur record of 25-1 before turning his sights on the pro game. Every time Jon took a big shot he smirked as if to say "I have been through much worse". Being tough and street fights may have made it so that Jon showed amazing heart and a great beard but at the elite level, bouts are won with skill, will and stamina.
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Losing is Not an Option
Jon was now a professional prizefighter with a record of 28-1 with 28 knockouts. His lone loss was by highly controversial decision. Jon won the rematch by first round knockout. With nothing to lose Jon was now ranked number 3 in the world as a middleweight boxer. He trained as if his life depended on it and in a way it did. He had zero family that he was aware of and if he won now he would feel like a winner which is something that he cannot feel.
A contract was drawn up for Jon to fight for the 160 pound championship (middleweight) against Ike "The Bison" Dyson and Dyson was installed as a 10-1 favorite right away in Vegas. Although Jon has never been hurt or knocked down in a bout the thought by experts was that it was cause he had not tasted the champ's power. Another factor in Jon being the underdog was the fact that he has never went past 8 rounds and Ike Dyson was 46-0 with 44 knockouts going into the match.
The bell sounds and the fight begins. Both boxers land bombs in the first two frames but Jon starts to take control in the middle rounds with a mixture of sticking the jab and fighting hard on the inside. After 10 rounds the fight was even on the cards but Dyson changed that with a counter left hook that put Jon on the canvas for the first time in his career but he was up at two. When action resumed Jon waded in and started trading until the bell with both men wobbling. The 12th was a terrible stanza for The Bison as he shockingly took a beating from pillar to post. When the score cards were announced Ike Dyson won by scores of 114-113 across the board. A super close bout that could have gone either way. Jon took solace in the fact that the world knew he belonged on the elite level and as they chanted his name in the audience he thought to himself, "I made it, I made it".
© 2015 Buster Johnson