Jesus Lule first walked into the SJC Boxing Gym, in Fort Myers, Florida, on December 4, 2007. Lule, born in Mexico on April 20, 1984, had never boxed before. He was 5'6" tall and weighed 165 lbs. Tired of being tired while working his landscaping job, tired of his co-workers teasing him for his lack of condition, he decided to get in shape. He was hoping to change things, searching for a purpose in life, looking for a new beginning.
He put on boxing gloves for the first time and seemed to enjoy it. He was intrigued by the other boxers jumping rope, hitting the heavy bag, sparring, the sound of the speed bag, the friendship and respect he observed among the other gym members. He wanted to be a part of this, but Jesus spoke little English, he was unable to properly do the necessary drills and exercises, and felt out of place.
Some of the assistant coaches didn’t want to work with him. They said he had no ability, they couldn’t communicate with him. They said he had no future. I said that Jesus had what you could not teach; he had heart, desire, and determination. He wanted to learn, he wanted to succeed, he kept coming back...every day. He kept trying to learn, and he was helped by the other fighters in the gym, who all accepted him. I had recently gotten out of the hospital, and was easing back into things, and immediately took a liking to him. I decided to work with Jesus. Being a bi-lingual illiterate didn’t hurt either, as we were able to communicate perfectly well.
Jesus fell in love with the sport and continued to work extremely hard. Soon he was excelling in the daily routine of a boxer. He would get up at 4:00 AM and do his roadwork before going to his landscaping job. He would come to the gym each night eager to learn something new. Jumping rope, hitting the speedbag, the double end bag, all became easy for him. He loved to spar and work the mitts. His weight kept dropping off and he was getting in shape for the first time in his life. He was even welcoming new gym members, helping them to get started and become comfortable with the training routine, and his English was improving.
He was ready for his first amateur fight and anxious to give it a try. However, as is often the case in recent times, there was no one for him to fight the first few times he tried. Never getting discouraged, he came back to the gym, trained harder than before and waited for the next time. His weight had dropped to 140 lbs. and he finally had his first fight on March 22, 2008. However, his first opponent was much too big, weighing 148 ˝ lbs., and was about 6 inches taller. Jesus lost a decision. He was back in the gym the next day, vowing to get better, and get his weight even lower.
It was six months before he had another fight, but he now weighed 130 lbs. Amateur bouts, which are supposed to have two minute rounds, were cut to one minute rounds on this particular show. Too many fights were on the schedule, and they wanted to give everyone an opportunity to compete. Jesus fought well, but lost a debatable decision. The one minute rounds hurt him, as he was in excellent condition and kept getting stronger, while his opponent was weakening. Not discouraged, he was back in the gym the next day.
Two months later he was competing in the novice division of the Florida State PAL tournament. He won his first (and only) bout, his first title, and his first belt. He was the “Outstanding Novice Boxer.” After winning his semi-final bout, his scheduled opponent in the finals decided that he wanted no part of Jesus and withdrew. Jesus had became a champion... unopposed. Again, he was back in the gym the following day, now showing off his championship belt to the other gym members and enjoying their encouragement.
His next fight was very interesting. While warming up for his bout, Jesus met former heavyweight champ, Pinklon Thomas. Pinklon, a good friend, had brought an amateur boxer he was training in his gym, in Orlando. Pinklon said, “Hey, I’ll help you in the corner with Jesus, if you’ll help me with my fighter.” I said, “fine,” and Jesus was excited to have the former heavyweight champ work his corner. Pinklon then told us that his former trainer, the great Angelo Dundee, was coming to the show and he would introduce him to Jesus
After meeting Angelo, and taking several pictures with Pinklon and Angelo, Jesus continued to prepare for his upcoming fight. He fought a good local boxer, but lost a terrible decision, in an exciting action-packed fight. However, both Pinklon and Angelo told him they thought he really won, to stay with it, and he would become an excellent fighter. We drove back home to Fort Myers and Jesus was now talking about how he wanted to become a professional fighter. Since both Pinklon Thomas and Angelo Dundee told him he was going to be good, he said he would work even harder and become a champ. He was beginning to believe in himself.
It would be eight months before he would have his next fight, after several had fallen through. He had worked very hard and was more than ready. He fought another excellent fighter, who was confident, and popular, who trained in Winterhaven, Florida, with the Andre Berto people. Jesus was outboxed in the first round because he was waiting a little too much. Told to move inside, become more aggressive, work the body, and constantly apply pressure, he took the second round. Whoever won the third and final round would win the fight. Jesus left no doubt, imposing his will and turning up the pressure even more. He won the last round big, and the fight, and said he could have gone another three rounds easily, at that same pace.
After the fight, trainer Jimmy Williams, a recent inductee of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, told Jesus he was very impressed with him. Hector Camacho Sr., who was also in attendance, congratulated Jesus, telling him he had an excellent future. Jesus took the big trophy he received and gave it to his opponent, telling him, “you fought a great fight and I learned a lot from you.” “You gave me what I needed...experience, I want to be a great professional world champion, you take the trophy, you’re an excellent fighter, don’t ever give up.”
Jesus knows that his amateur career will be brief and is strictly for experience. Although his record is “only” 2-3, it doesn’t concern him, he wants to be a professional. He will keep training and he will keep learning and improving, and shortly, when he turns pro, his record will be 0-0. He will have his new beginning and he will succeed, because he will be ready...after all, he has what you cannot teach; heart, desire, and determination. The true ingredients of a real champion.