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Jerry James



The 1980 South Dakota State grad was the No. 1 rated amateur boxer in the United States at 165 pounds in 1988. That year the Brooklyn native competed internationally against Cuba and Europe and in the U.S. Olympic Trials, where a controversial ruling kept him out of the Olympics.

Amazingly, his boxing career spanned less than six years. In his early 20s he tried Tough Man boxing at a local bar and won. Soon he became connected with the boxing program run by Joe Taylor at Siouxland Boxing in Sioux Falls, and he began amateur boxing. He was a South Dakota Golden Gloves champ in 1982 and ’83 as well as a USA/ABF champion (He lost to future pro world champion Virgil Hill in the 1982 regional finals). In 1983 he was a national Golden Gloves runner-up. In 1984, he competed in the Pan Am Games and the Western Olympic Trials. He was out of boxing in 1985 and ’86. In 1987, he again was the state Golden Gloves champion and USA/ABF champion. In 1988, he won state, regional and national USA/ABF titles to become a member of the USA Elite Boxing Team. In the 1988 nationals, he knocked out the two-time national champion who was slated to represent the USA in the 1988 Olympics in 1 minute and 35 seconds of the first round. At the 1988 Olympic Trials James found out that his children's mother was killed in a car crash. He went on to compete but lost. The winner of the Olympic Trials was supposed to have a box-off with a noteworthy opponent. James assumed that he would be that opponent since he was the only boxer who had beaten the Trials winner in the prior two years. Instead of choosing James, the committee chose less worthy opponents. James got a court order to fight for the spot on the Olympic team. He flew to Seoul, South Korea, to fight but Olympic coaches refused the court order. James retired from boxing.

From 2000-04 he was a state Tough Man boxing champion and a two-time regional champion. In 2002, he competed in the world Tough Man competition. In 2014 James put the gloves back on to compete in Masters boxing for fighters ages 35 to 80. In 2014 he won gold at Masters nationals in Coconut Creek, Fla. In 2015 he won gold at the Ringside World Championship in Kansas City and in the Australia Masters Games in Adelaide.

He played football at Yankton College (1975-77) and SDSU (1978-79).

He runs Top Flight Boxing, where he "Makes Champions Out of Ordinary People."








































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