Duluth, MN (The Northland's NewsCenter) - At the Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, upcoming fighters are not only learning how to box, but how to live better lives outside the ring.
Former Pro Boxer Zach 'Jungle Boy' Walters was handed the reigns from his old fighting club, Horton's Gym, to take it and make it his own.
"...Taking over Horton's Gym? Ok, I'll make it a proud name in town and he says, 'No no no Zach, I want you to take it over, rename it, make it yours... make it your thing.' And I said wow."
And that's exactly what he is doing.
Throughout Walters' career in boxing, he earned money, titles, and respect.
But all of that nearly came crashing down with a drug arrest.
Walters learned from his mistakes and vowed to never do it again. And with those life lessons under his Championship belt, he is able to keep his boxers on the straight and narrow.
"I hope that none of these guys make decisions that bad. With these kids, we nip things in the butt before they get that way but you know, I'll tell you what, I'm pretty open about that."
Talking about his past allows others to not feel judged if they are going through the same thing.
Something Walters' holds near and dear.
"I think they know that. They know that."
Future World Heavyweight Champion Teddy Mosqueda–Beaudoyn lives just a few blocks from the gym.
He wanted to learn to fight but knew his family couldn't afford it because of medical bills. But the Jungle Boy pulled through for him.
"He paid for this whole gym with this whole scholarship thing and I get the whole thing free, I just gotta stay out of trouble and get good grades."
"Boxing is just a little tiny piece of your life and I want to make sure they enjoy their time in the sport but also help them along with those life building blocks, those foundational things."
As membership grows, money for the gym is getting tight, but Walters knows as more success stories come out of his gym, people may want to help out to allow him to keep kids on the right route.
"I think it's a great opportunity, a great partnership with the city, kids are going to learn how to box, have a good time doing it, and go on to be great success stories."
The Gym's first boxing match will be held on Oct 20th at Grandma's Sports Garden.
For a rap one of Walters' fighters wrote about the Jungle Boy, you can check out a web exclusive video
Written for the web by Chris Axelson