The holidays are over, but the real fun will begin Monday night.
For more than 100 aspiring boxers, the holiday break means no gym time as the Fullmer Brothers shut down their West Jordan Boxing Gym for a couple of weeks.
From the youngest to the most skilled, they wait with anticipation for Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. That's when Gene, Don and Jay Fullmer will bring the former firehouse to life with the help of those hoping to learn a little from the state's most accomplished boxing family.
This holiday break was a little more somber, a little more dreaded as the Fullmers got word from the City of West Jordan in December that they will need to find a new home in a few months. It was, for some, just a bitter taste of what life will be like if the gym has to close forever.
West Jordan officials have allowed the Fullmers to use the building rent-free and, in turn, the Fullmers are able to allow kids to work out in the gym for free.
The city, however, will need the building by May or June, and while they've offered to help the Fullmers to relocate, the three brothers, who volunteer their own time to teach the sport they love, see it as a daunting endeavor.
After the Deseret News ran a story about the situation, people began reaching out. Most had one question — 'How do we help?'
Getting a rescue mission organized is not something these former fighters know much about. Taking a punch and staying on your feet, well, that's their forte.
So they started with an account. Don's son, Larry Fullmer, set up an account at the Zions Bank in West Jordan, which they hope will be where supporters send monetary contributions. (Donations can actually be made at any Zions Bank to the Fullmer Brothers Golden Gloves Gym account — donations are tax deductible.)
There is talk of applying for grants and of possible fundraisers. There is more talk of how determined the entire Fullmer clan is to preserving the gym.
"This is a great place for those kids to be," said Jay Fullmer, the middle of the three brothers. "A lot of these kids probably couldn't afford to do this otherwise."
Jay said Fullmer's Boxing Gym will open for business Monday night and everyone associated with it will continue to pray for that miracle.
"No one has called with a million dollars yet," he said laughing. And if someone did, he'd be inclined to give it to the city if they'd just let them stay where they are.
Thousands have benefited over the years from the generosity and knowledge of the Fullmers. Now they're hoping some of those who know first-hand how learning the sport of boxing can save your life will be in a position to offer a hand to their former teachers.
While most have offered support and heaped praise on the Fullmers, some wonder why the brothers want to continue to teach what they see as a violent sport.
But anyone whose spent five minutes inside the Fullmer's gym will know what a ridiculous assertion that is.
They're not teaching violence. They're teaching respect. They're teaching discipline. They're teaching strategy, skill, intelligence and technique. Boxing isn't about unbridled anger. It's about controlling your emotions, thinking through a threatening situation, understanding your own weaknesses and finding ways to win even when you're exhausted, terrified and over-matched.
The Fullmers are teaching these boys, who really just want to have fun, how a healthy lifestyle will pay dividends their entire lives. These boys learn that when they skip the cardio, they'll likely not last 30 seconds on game day. Boxing, first and foremost, teaches you that when you cut corners, you cheat only yourself. There is no one there to rescue you, no teammate, no coach, no time?out, if you are unprepared. You will get pummeled. And it will hurt.
It is unfortunate that in their golden years — all are over 70 — these men who've done so much for their hometown and so much for the sport they love, have to find a way to win another fight.
Interestingly, it was in reading a history of Gene Fullmer's fights that I really came to understand why they do what they do — without recognition or monetary reward.
He just loves this sport.
There was no such thing as a devastating loss to Gene Fullmer - Middle Weight Champion of the World in 1957. Sometimes you get beat. Sometimes the other guy is just better. That doesn't mean it has to stay that way. You go back to the gym, you work hard, you fix what didn't work and you climb back in the ring.
Losing is just another chance to learn something.
The Fullmers don't want to lose their building. They really don't want to lose the chance to work with boys who need what they're teaching. So, the sons of Tuff Fullmer will prepare for one more fight.
On the bright side, which is where Gene, Don and Jay tend to find themselves despite the adversities that have been dealt them, this is a chance for the rest of us to show them how much we appreciate what they've done for this state, this sport and for our young people.
I just hope we're up to the challenge.
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