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Philadelphia Boxing Middleweight Fred Jenkins Jr. Shows Resiliency Outside The Ring

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If you have ever followed the sport of boxing, you know it can be a brutal sport,Philadelphia Super Middleweight Fred Jenkins Jr. Shows Resiliency Outside The Ring. but at times it can be a beautiful sport when two men engage each other in the ring like strong-willed gladiators.

For many young fighters, they dream of the day when they step through the ropes and into the ring for the first time as pro.

Years of hard work, hitting the bag over and over in small dungy gyms, with no running hot water, finally pays off. Just like a major-leaguer who toils around the minors for years before his shot at the show.

For 24-year-old Fred Jenkins Jr. a super middleweight, who is making his pro debut Friday, March 18th at Harrah's Casino in Chester PA, against Scott Bronner, that moment will be bitter sweet.

Growing up in North Philly, Jenkins Jr. learned about being a pugilist early on. His father Fred Jenkins Sr., who is a legendary trainer, taught him the basics of boxing from the onset.

And from that first sound of his glove hitting a heavy bag, Jenkins’ Jr. was smitten and developed a strong desire to pursue boxing with the hopes of having his father in his corner forever.

Jenkins’ Jr. had his first amateur bout at age 13, and from there he ripped through the ranks, winning some very recognizable titles, including Ringside Nationals, the Junior Olympic in Pennsylvania, Silver Gloves and of course the famed Junior Golden Gloves.

But father always knows best, and the elder Jenkins wanted to make sure his son had a “Plan B” just in case the boxing thing didn’t work out.

Jenkins Sr. is well known in boxing circles, especially in Philadelphia, where many consider him one of the most underrated trainers in the country. A man who has earned not only respect among his peers but admiration.

The elder Jenkins started training fighters in 1973, and his talents were on display as he continuously sprouted out some great boxers, including former Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion David Reid.

But Jenkins Sr. knew that one setback, one stingy loss, or one injury, could end it all for his son.

“I was going to school, working two, three jobs, and it was taking time away from training, but my father wanted to make sure I had a back-up plan,” said Jenkins Jr.

“I was working at a summer pool in 2007, and slipped and fell, split my head open. I was rushed to the hospital and they had to put in 13 stitches. I suffered a laceration on my skin and back of my forehead. My brain was ok, but I suffered a really bad concussion.”

At that moment Jenkins Jr. thought his once promising career, a career that so him dominate the amateur ranks with more than 40 fights to go along with various titles, was finished before it started.

“Doctors recommended that I never fight again, because of the concussion, and the fact that tissue takes time to heal and build back up.”

The worse part about the accident for Jenkins Jr. was the subsequent headaches and memory loss. It got so bad that he would just lie down in bed and pray the pain would go away.

“I couldn’t recount things and place and people. I couldn’t even understand numbers at times, and here I am, an honor student, who loved math and was part of the national honor society in high school in 2005, and I couldn’t remember little things.”

Two years later and against doctor’s wishes, Jenkins Jr. is ready to chase his dream, which started as a kid. “I was born around boxing. My dad kept me around the gym as a child, and from the first time I laced up the gloves I was hooked.”Philadelphia Super Middleweight Fred Jenkins Jr. Shows Resiliency Outside The Ring.

“Reading about the fighters my father trained and seeing how successful they became, it was like why not choose boxing as a career. I’m the son of a trainer that made world champs and Olympic Gold Medalist and other nationally ranked fighters.”

A self-proclaimed “man that goes about his business in the ring, Jenkins Jr. has a style that is a cross between “Sugar Ray” Robinson, Archie Moore and Guglielmo Papaleo a.k.a “Willie Pep”, Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler and Reid just to name a few.

Not a bad mix when you throw in speed, great footwork, power and anger in the ring, and you have yourself a dangerous fighter and a mature fighter.

“I am not here to play; to me this is life and death. I know people get hurt, I can get hurt; I take this stuff very serious. I am surrounded by good people.”

All successful boxers have a great trainer and Jenkins Jr. realizes he is blessed to have his father in his corner in more ways than one.

“My father influenced me a lot, and not just him. My mother played a big part in my boxing as well. But my father pushed me to be great at whatever I chose in my career. He always said if you ain’t gonna give your all then don’t do it at all.”

However, his father couldn’t prepare him for life after the accident as depression and despair set in, and the thought of life without boxing started to creep into his son’s mind.

So many thoughts were racing through the bright boxer’s head.

What if I get hit, and get hurt?

What happens if I cause damage to my brain?

Jenkins Jr. had much more to worry about than dealing with post-concussion syndrome.

According to a study by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 90% of boxers sustain a brain injury. Although boxing may account for few deaths than some other sports, the numbers of boxers suffering brain damage are believed to be much higher than recorded.

It is not surprising that a head injury is the most common injury sustained in boxing. In fact, it is estimated that when a boxer gets a direct blow to the head, it is like being hit by a 12lb padded, wooden mallet traveling at 20mph.

Now, imagine being hit in the head over and over throughout the course of 10 or 12 rounds and you start to get the picture. Repeated blows to the head can cause fractures to the bone of the head and face and cause tissue damage to the brain.

In Jenkins Jr. case, he didn’t suffer any brain damage when he slipped and fell, but he did suffer a deep laceration that needed time to heal.

However, blows can cause damage to the surface of the brain, cause nerve damage, lesions, bleeding and at times produce large clots within the brain.

Overcoming physical setbacks is second nature to a fighter, but overcoming emotional trauma is another story as the questions kept popping up his mind and soul.

What if I don’t have the nerve anymore to go toe-to-toe with someone?

And the most gut wrenching question of them all.

Was there a “Plan B”?

Try telling that to a boxer. Try explaining to someone who spits blood and sweats tears in the ring that they might have to walk another path in life.

Watch the expression on their face as if they just got caught with a low blow.

It knocks the wind right out of you.

“Not for a single second. My heart kept calling me back to boxing, I didn’t even think about that stuff.” I decided that I had to do this and one morning last October, I woke up and was moping around, and I said to myself, this I want to do. This is what God has in store for me. I’m a fighter. My mom was against me returning to boxing, but I have faith in God and he has a plan for me. “

None of that bothers Jenkins Jr., who passionately believes he has some pretty stout company in his corner.

“God protects me, and God drives me.”

But it would not come easy for the young man.

“I had to rehab at Nova Care and it took me a long time to get back. I started to walk outside, than I jogged a bit, to try to get my legs back. I just kept putting things in God’s hands.”

When one has God and family on his side, he believes he can accomplish anything. It doesn’t hurt that Jenkins Jr. has a father that will always protect his son’s back.

Of course that gets thrown out the window once training resumes.

“Man he works me, he pushes me to the limit, if I run, I run hard, if I shadow box, he tells me to work hard, I never ever question anything he says,” added Jenkins Jr.

I once heard that sons were put on this earth to aggravate and torture their fathers. In this scenery it is the other way around.

Jenkins Jr. chuckles at that notion. “I trust my father, whatever he asks of me, I will do and I will do it and see it all the way.”

With a long layoff, Jenkins’ finally got his stamina back, felt stronger and all he had to do was take those final steps back into the ring to not only test his resolve, but to test his nerves.

A lesser fighter would have cracked, called it a day and gave up.

But Jenkins Jr. is a special kid, a tough kid. A kid who has something that can’t be taught, the will and the heart to overcome anything.

“Once I touched gloves I was fine and I started some intense training, I am good to go, and I am going for it. I have too much going for me, I have too much knowledge, and I am a smart fighter.”

One hopes that wisdom protects him in the ring from here on out, as his plight begins Friday night with his father in his corner.

“I can’t fail, I won’t fail. It is not in my resume. The devil wants us to fail and if I get knocked down, I will get right back up.”

He already has.

Rich Quinones is a freelance sports broadcaster, sports writer, and host and creator of "On Q" Sports Talk, which can be heard every Thursday night from 10-11PM on 1460 WIFI AM.

He has over 13 years of broadcasting experience, most recently spending the last three as afternoon drive-time host for 1290 The Ticket, a Fox Sports Affiliate in Delaware. He has worked for various news and sports radio stations in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Ohio and the “First State,” where he won numerous awards for his own-air work. A national freelance sports correspondent for several different media outlets across the country, Rich has covered every sport over the years as well as the local teams in our backyard, and is known for his “hard-hitting,” passionate style behind the microphone. His work has been published online as well as in SJ Magazine and South Jersey Magazine. He is also play-by-play voice for the NAFL and served as lead blow-by-blow announcer for Dave Tiberi’s T.N.T Boxing. “Q” covers the sweet science on a daily basis and is set to launch his own show online. Rich is also an advocate for retired NFL Players, who are struggling in life since leaving the game and need some guidance. He has partnered up with several former NFL players, who also believe in this cause.

Contact Rich at rquinonesmedia@hotmail.com

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