Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Twenty years ago, Al Sands thought his future would be spent on a stage telling jokes.
"When I was a kid, I would always laugh at things," Sands said. "You know, everybody thought I was going to be a comedian of some sort."
Needless to say, Sands didn't end up being a comedian, but that's just fine with him.
"I would have never though that I would be a professional athlete and fitness trainer," he said. "Even a coach or role model for that matter. Boxing has done some big things for me, and I'm glad I can bring that to other people."
That's why Sands now spends his free time training others.
As the Floodwood native says, it's a chance to give back by teaching a sport that's given him so much.
"It adds emphasis to the things that I learn. To see that it not only works for me but works for other people too. It's been a blessing to bring that to other people's lives as well," Sands said.
He's even willing to teach the most amateur of boxers.
Don't be fooled by his kindness though. When it's time for him to train, Sands goes to work.
That's exactly why Zach Walters wasn't surprised when he landed a shot at the North American Boxing Association (NABA) U.S. Championship belt.
"We kept joking around saying we knew this day would come," Walter said, manager of Jungle Boy Boxing. "It's pretty fun. We've both been doing our parts."
Now Sands has to do his part on Saturday night in the ring to secure his spot among the nation's best.
"There are a lot of people that have helped me while I was growing up. By succeeding, I feel like this is my way of paying them back for all of the work they put into me."