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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Little boxing champ packs big wallop

BY DENNIS HOWE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Otha defeated Marcus Golliday of St. Louis in a boxing match Friday in Kansas City, Mo., claiming the 2010 Ringside World Championship.


With more than 1,600 competitors in the tournament, Otha came out on top in his 75-pound weight class, winning four fights en route to the championship belt.


Ta'loun Nedd, 9, left, spars with Otha at Soul City Boxing Gym at Belmont and Junction Avenues. The academy has 15 students ages 7 to 22. Ta'loun Nedd, 9, left, spars with Otha at Soul City Boxing Gym at Belmont and Junction Avenues. The academy has 15 students ages 7 to 22.
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Otha Jones, Jr., the boxer's father, said he was not surprised by his son's success.

"The object in boxing is to hit without getting hit," he said. "And no one can hit him - he's too quick."


Mr. Jones is a strength and conditioning coach at Soul City Boxing Gym in central Toledo, which has been open since January, 2008. The boxing academy has 15 students, ages 7 to 22, who pay $50 per month for lessons.


The head coach is Gerald Carter.


Before he became a professional boxer, Mr. Carter served a seven-year sentence in an Ohio prison for felonious assault. During his incarceration, he was the reigning champion of the prison's boxing league.


Otha shows off his three national tournament belts. He is a two-time state wrestling champion, a national champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, and a football player. Otha shows off his three national tournament belts. He is a two-time state wrestling champion, a national champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, and a football player.
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Mr. Carter turned pro after his release in 1997 and began his ca-reer with two knockouts, retiring a year later with a 6-0 record.

Now he teaches youths how to box. Among his students is his 11-year-old son, Dean, who has been training for over a year but still has not had an official fight.

"The kids I coach, they're going to be well prepared," Mr. Carter said. "They're not going to be out of shape. I'm going to get them as close to perfect as they can get."

Mr. Carter believes his son and Otha Jones will be part of a fearsome foursome along with Malik Austin, 12, and Javontae Howard, 7, that will be tough to beat as the youngsters rise through the boxing ranks.

"This time next year, we hope to have at least three more champions," he said.

The boxing academy is on the second floor of a building at Belmont and Junction avenues, above a barbershop where the young fighters receive weekly haircuts as a side-benefit of the program.

Mr. Carter said boxing clubs have gained in popularity throughout Toledo in the last year after schools cut their athletic programs because of budget woes.

"Next year, I expect it to get even bigger," he said.

In the workout room, Otha Jones III looks like he has packed as much muscle as physically possible onto his 10-year-old frame as he completes a set of pushups.

He confidently recalled his winning maneuver in Kansas City: "He was crowding me, so I went right-hand, jab, right-hand."

But even though he is a world champion boxer for his age bracket, it is neither his best nor his favorite sport. Otha is a two-time state wrestling champion, a national champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, and a football player to boot.

"I envision him being a world champion - whether it's in wrestling, boxing, or football," his father said. "He is an exceptional athlete."

"What he excels in is discipline," Mr. Carter said. "If I told him you need to go outside and eat rocks to be able to win, he'd try it."

Mr. Jones and Mr. Carter plan to take Otha and a few of his teammates to the Paul Murphy Tournament in Atlanta Sept. 12.

As for Otha, he's just having fun.

"I like punching things," he said with a grin.

Contact Dennis Howe at:

dhowe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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