Editor's note: This story was updated to correct that Paul Jonas of Cary did not win the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. His 44-0 record refers to unsanctioned fights. Also, Jonas is Jimmy Gustafson's boxing fitness trainer. Gustafson's boxing coaches are Gary Dobry and Tony Prignits at Pug's Boxing Club at the School of Hard Knocks Boxing Academy in Crystal Lake.
Paul Jonas really believes in boxing as a way to build character, especially in young people.
Poundit Boxing Promotions Round OneWhen: Saturday, April 28. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., fights start at 7:30-7:45 p.m.
Where: The Lakemoor Banquets, 28874 Route 120, Lakemoor
Tickets: Available online at pounditpromotions.com/tickets.html until midnight Friday, or at the door (cash only) Saturday. Call (224) 678-4240.
Details: There will be eight to 10 fights. Scheduled matches include:
Ÿ Jimmy Gustafson (Lake In The Hills) vs. Terry Russell (Rockford)
Ÿ Hector Martinez (Waukegan) vs. Hermando Pina III (Elgin)
Ÿ Marin Hernandez (Rockford) vs. Rick Lance (Chicago)
The Cary resident has created Poundit Boxing Promotions, which will present its first amateur boxing event Saturday evening at The Lakemoor Banquets in Lakemoor. There will be eight to 10 fights in the venue that seats more than 1,400 people. Tickets are $15 for standing general admission, $20 for floor seats, or $200 for tables seating six.
Jonas, 41, said getting Poundit off the ground has been a lot of hard -- but worthwhile -- work. Promoter Jack Cowen helped line up the matches, while Jonas worked on securing sponsors, including Sports Authority, Anderson BMW in Crystal Lake, Crystal Lake Chrysler Jeep, Comfort King Heating & Cooling in Lake in the Hills, and Rosati's Pizza in Cary.
"I have done Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, hand-to-hand combat, but my heart is into Western-style boxing," he said. "From what people tell me, this is a movement, boxing in the Northwest suburbs. I refer to it as a sleeping giant, all I'm doing is waking it up."
Jonas privately trains amateur boxers, both youth and adults, and teaches two classes at Cary Gymnastics and Dance Center in Cary. He says he won a boxing tournament while serving in the Marine Corps in 1993, and has an 44-0 record in unsanctioned fights.
"I am passionate about what I'm doing now. I want to help kids develop in this sport and develop as strong young men and women," he said. "I want to create a safe platform for youth to compete in boxing and promote the sport of boxing."
Boxers have to live a "clean" life for a sport whose appeal is not just physical, but spiritual, too, Jonas said.
"The youth of society nowadays, to get them off the couch and away from electronics is the key. If you talk to them about faith or God they might not listen to you. But you can touch them in the way of exercise and sports."
Among the fighters that will take part in Saturday's event is Jimmy Gustafson, 16, of Lake in the Hills, a junior at Jacobs High School. Gustafson has been boxing since he was about 12, and will compete in the 138-pound category.
"It's a cool thing that (Jonas) is promoting fights. It's awesome to be a part of it," said Jimmy, who has a 4-1 record. Jonas is Jimmy's boxing fitness trainer; his boxing coaches are Gary Dobry and Tony Prignits at Pug's Boxing Club at The School of Hard Knocks Boxing Academy in Crystal Lake.
Jonas is the kind of trainer who insists that fighters master the basics, Jimmy said. "He is very into cardio. He's good on his feet and he helps us a lot with the technique of boxing." Contrary to popular belief, amateur boxing is a safe sport, both Jimmy and Jonas said.
"You have gloves on and you have headgear on, it's pretty safe. Also, when I first started doing this, I didn't start fighting right away, I just got the training down. I started fighting around 14 or 15," Jimmy said.
"Amateur boxing is so safe. It can give people that same taste of competing without the damage," Jonas said, adding that USA Boxing officials will stop the fight if a fighter is outmatched.
Jonas owns a construction contracting company but business has been slow since the economic downturn, he said. His long-term goal is to set up his own gym and create a nonprofit foundation to support youth who play all sports.
"For example, if they play hockey and can't afford equipment, the foundation would help. I want to support kids and less privileged families that can't afford that."
About four years ago, as part of Combat Entertainment Group, Jonas promoted a mixed martial arts event at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. The group spent $26,000, including an Olympic-sized ring and "all the bells and whistles," but ended up $400 in the red, he said.
This time, Jonas said he just wants to keep it simple.
"I'm putting the man upstairs first, the fighters second, then the fans, and myself at the bottom. I want to keep the cost down and run a good show with good talent."