Sophomore nationally ranked boxer

Hannah Madonia, Staff Writer

Most high school students could tell you that they spend their free hours relaxing and catching up on sleep, and that the closest they get to real boxing is watching “Fight Club.” But sophomore Josh Matthews spends his free time tirelessly training, and as a result is recognized as a nationally ranked boxer.

Matthews has found success in his time spent boxing. Through training and competitions, he has become a nationally-ranked boxer and discovered a way to release his stress.

Matthews began boxing at the age of seven. He said his father was his biggest influence in his decision to begin boxing.

“My father was the one who got me into it because he boxed for 22 years,” Matthews said.

“Ever since josh was little I always taught him to be tough,” Micheal Matthews, Josh’s father, said. “I wanted him to know how to defend himself, just in case. He was a natural at it, and from the moment I saw it I said to myself, ‘I need to teach him.’”

However, his father’s enthusiasm for his boxing doesn’t stop Matthews’ mother from worrying about his safety.

“My mom doesn’t even come to my matches because she’s way too scared of me getting hurt,” Matthews said. “It’s happened, blood or broken bones, but not too often.”

Now, Matthews spends almost all of his free time training for competitions at the Fist Law Academy in Downers Grove.

“I train just about every day,” said Matthews, “usually for about three to four hours on week days and sometimes all day on the weekends.”

Matthews said that all of the time he spends training ultimately pays off. He has been frequently competing every month for a number of years.

“My first competition was on July 24, my birthday, when I turned eight,” Matthews said.

Matthews has participated in many competitions since then. Last year he was ranked third in the nation in the Silver Glove Amateur Boxing Competition. This spring, he will compete in the Golden Glove Amateur Boxing Competition.

“It definitely is on my mind, because Golden Gloves is a big thing, especially for a kid his age,” Matthews’ father said. “But I know he’s good enough and I just pray that everything goes okay.”

Although he spends so much of his time training and boxing, Matthews said it has not gotten in the way of his schoolwork.

“It’s just part of my schedule,” said Matthews. “School comes first. After I finish my homework and studies I dedicate the rest of the time to boxing.”

However, Matthews’ does not see himself going further than the Golden Gloves Competition.

“After the [upcoming] spring I’m done doing it competitively,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to go professional; it’s too much. I don’t want to get my head beaten in.”

Similarly, Matthews is not only interested in beating his competitors’ heads in, either. For him, boxing is not about wanting to knock others out.

“My favorite thing about boxing is that it relieves stress and it’s a good way to learn self-defense,” Matthews said.

Although Matthews plans to end his competitive boxing this year, he has no plans to stop boxing recreationally any time soon.

“I’m still going to continue to train,” Matthews said. “I’ll miss competing, but I’ll still have it in my life.”

Matthews believes that the most important element of boxing is dedication.

“The advice I would give to people who want to box is to make sure you’re ready for whatever, because it’s definitely difficult,” Matthews said. “Go in with an open mind and a strong heart.”