ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Clarence Green knows a thing or two about getting things to catch on in northwest Missouri and beyond. One look at some of the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department’s Twitter account and their viral tweets shows that.
Now the NWMSU police chief is turning part of his focus to getting something else to catch on in northwest Missouri: boxing.
Green has helped open the Johnson Brothers Boxing Gym earlier this year in St. Joseph to give people in northwest Missouri a chance to learn the sport.
“I think it is great for the community,” Green said. “Boxing is a great sport for young kids to be involved in. ... I think it is something that everyone should participate in at least once in their life.”
Prior to the Johnson Brothers’ facility opening up, the only options for amateurs who wanted to learn the sport was to travel to either Kansas City or Omaha.
“There is no boxing gym in (northwest Missouri) that does this,” Thomas Huitt-Johnson said. “I was on my own boxing and keeping amateur boxing alive in St. Joe for the last three years. ... It was always our dream growing up that one day we would run a gym when we got older.”
The gym is run by the five Johnson brothers: Thomas, Darrel, Steven, Dustin and Joey. All five brothers have had decorated careers and have won the Kansas City Golden Gloves. Steven and Dustin each are retired professional boxers and Steven is a certified USA boxing coach while the others are each completing that certification soon.
“I just really believe in (Thomas) as well as his brothers,” Green said. “Steven and Dustin are great young men and have always been a positive influence in my son’s life and the rest of my kids’ lives.”
Thomas Huitt-Johnson stresses that while he hopes the new gym eventually inspires boxers to chase dreams of the Olympics or a professional career like he and his brothers have, his classes are designed for all levels of boxers. Cross-training is something the instructors encourage with athletes whose primary focus isn’t in the ring.
“If you are a basketball, football or baseball player looking to get into shape, boxing will help you definitely,” Huitt-Johnson said.
Green and his family have seen those benefits first hand with his son Elijah, who boxed as an amateur and won the World Boxing championship in addition to the Silver Gloves several times and now plays football at Northwest Missouri State.
“For the conditioning and hand-eye coordination, I think boxing is tremendous, but I think the biggest thing it helps with is that mental aspect,” Green said. “There is nothing like the mental challenge of boxing and what you learn about trust through boxing.
“Sweet Pea Whitaker just died, but he always said, ‘the way you fight your fight in the ring is the way you are going to fight your fight in life.’ Those mental aspects of how you fight through adversity are so important for young folks as they live their life.”
While they certainly encourage year-round training, the gym allows a participant to come and go depending on their schedule.
In addition to their youth classes, the Johnson brothers offer adult classes as well, highlighting boxing’s ability to be a great source of exercise.
Classes are three times a week for $30 a month for youth and four times a weeks for $40 a month for adults. More information on the gym can be found on its Facebook page ‘Johnson Brothers Boxing.’