Tale of the tape brings Golden Glove boxing to Anoka

When John Hoffman was a kid, he was one of those kids. He had so much drive and energy, so much fight he didn’t know what to do with himself.

Inside Brothers Boxing training gym, John Hoffman works with Meri Stewart, one of a dozen amateur athletes the professional boxer trains in Anoka. Photo by Sue Austreng

Inside Brothers Boxing training gym, John Hoffman works with Meri Stewart, one of a dozen amateur athletes the professional boxer trains in Anoka. Photo by Sue Austreng

Organized school sports couldn’t quell the fight within and so he threw punches, he skipped and danced, he ducked and turned and punched some more.

Hoffman found boxing – or boxing found him – and boxing gave him life, gave him direction, held him accountable and gave him confidence.

Hoffman, a graduate of Coon Rapids High School (and not the Anoka-Hennepin School Board member), boxed a few years in the amateur ring, then turned professional and boxed 18 more years. He also spent seven years running the Anoka-Coon Rapids Boxing Club before forming Brothers Boxing, a boxing team based in Anoka.

And on Sunday (Sept. 30), Hoffman will bring boxing to the people, showcasing his Brothers Boxing team with a Golden Glove boxing event, sanctioned by USA Olympic Boxing Association and at 3 p.m. taking the ring in the parking lot between Courtside Bar and Grill and Serum’s Emporium on Jackson Street, Anoka.

General admission tickets are free and the Brothers Boxing team will battle teams from River Falls, Wis.; Fargo, N.D.; Detroit Lakes; Duluth; St. Cloud; Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“There’s a reason why certain kids seek out boxing. Those are the kids the community needs to address – kids that won’t listen to most other people… Boxing gives them discipline, accountability, goals. I want those kids to know we’re here,” Hoffman said, pulling on the mitts as he got ready to work with one of the amateur boxers he trains at Brothers Boxing gym, located in the basement of Courtside Bar and Grill.

“Back in the day, boxing was a great community asset. It was supported by the American Legion, schools [and other community groups].”

“Now it’s got kind of a bad name and kids are not exposed to it, but I know all the good boxing can do and I want to make it available to more kids,” Hoffman said.

And so Hoffman has formed Brothers Boxing and is starting a non-profit (Friends of Upper Midwest Boxing Gyms) to spread the word and offer his training expertise.

In fact, Hoffman currently trains a dozen or so amateur boxers and manages and trains 12 professional boxers.

Last week, Hoffman was working with Meri Stewart, a 2006 Anoka High School graduate who’s been training with Hoffman for the past three or four years.

“John’s great. He knows his stuff. He’s a great trainer – and he doesn’t charge anything. If (kids are) interested, they can come here,” Stewart said.

The “kids” who train with Hoffman are as young as 14 years old, but kids aren’t the only ones he trains in his Brothers Boxing gym. He also trains amateur boxers who are in their 20s or 30s, too.

Inside Brothers Boxing training gym, athletes shadow box, work the mitts, pound the punching bag, do some weight work, jump rope and all the rest.

All the rest, that is, except get in the ring. You see, Brothers Boxing training gym in Courtside’s basement is too small to accommodate a boxing ring.

And so Hoffman’s boxers head to Uppercut in Northeast Minneapolis and get in the ring there.

“We’ve been trying to get fights in Anoka, but there’s no rings. Now, it’s going to be right in our own backyard,” Stewart said, expressing her excitement about Sunday’s showcase event.

Hoffman would someday like to have his own gym, and organize a boys’ and girls’ club with a boxing club inside, he said.

“Every other boxing gym costs lots of money. I’m trying to offer this to kids who really need it, who can really get a lot out of it,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said he’s received lots of community support for Sunday’s event and looks forward to showcasing his athletes’ skills in the ring.

For more information about Brothers Boxing, or to find out more about Sunday’s boxing event, call Hoffman at 763-381-1033 or e-mail him at boxingbrothers@yahoo.com.

Live outdoor boxing

Brothers Boxing presents a kid and family friendly amateur boxing showcase at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30 in the lot between Courtside Bar and Grill and Serums Emporium on Jackson Street in Anoka.
Brothers Boxing teams will compete with teams from River Falls, Wis.; Fargo, N.D.; Detroit Lakes; Duluth; St. Cloud; Minneapolis and St. Paul.

General admission tickets are free of charge and ringside tables are also available, per donation.

For more information, call John Hoffman at 763-381-1033.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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