Retired fighter Jake Smith, owner and head trainer of the Baltimore Boxing Club and a member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame, doesn’t like tough guys.
Bullying, to be specific.
“It’s something I really don’t like,” he says. “I was bullied right before high school. When I became a boxer, I wanted to beat that guy up. I still want to.”
Revenge fantasies notwithstanding, Smith is addressing the problem through his sport rather than violence.
At “Bully Beatdown,” Smith’s card at Du Burns Arena this Saturday, Oct. 20, several professional boxers will be invited to the ring “to talk about how much they don’t like bullying.”
Smith will also be handing out brochures about bullying to kids in the audience, with people who can be contacted to help with bullying, and phone numbers that can be called.
“I know how hurtful it is,” Smith says. “It’s not only bullying—it’s somebody being a tough guy and picking on people. If they want to be a tough guy, they should get into the ring and try it out.”
Jerome Featherstone Jr. has tried it out, and now he’s defending his title as East Coast Champion and South Atlantic Champion against Keith Samuels of Washington, D.C. Featherstone’s bout is the headliner of the event.
Saturday night is also the debut of Ryan Robinson, a 6-foot-6 former Detroit Tiger from Silver Spring.
“He retired from baseball and came looking for a trainer,” says Smith. “He wants to do whatever he can do to become a boxer. I’m going to get him a few amateur fights, see how he feels, see if that’s what he wants to do. Then, if he wants to, pursue it as a professional.”
“Little Stevie,” a nine-year-old, is also featured on the card. You can surmise that he probably doesn’t deal with too much bullying.
Smith founded the Baltimore Boxing Club in the late 90s, after getting out of the bar business. He owned two pubs, both named Shiner’s—the slang term for a bruised eye. One was on Bank St., and one was by Camden Yards.
“I got out of the bar business after I asked my wife to marry me,” says Smith. “She’s alright with the boxing business; she’s always been a fan.
For more information on Saturday night’s event, visit baltimoreboxing.com.
by Erik Zygmont