Up North: Pro boxers to help start a youth program in Barnum

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: November 04, 2020 10:50 PM

Professional boxers Jamal James and David Morrell Jr. were in the middle of training for world title fights when the pandemic hit. Rather than stay at the Circle of Discipline (COD) gym in a mostly shutdown Minneapolis, they hunkered down at COD's Barnum location.

"More than anything, our physical condition would be better here [with] a better training system," said Morrell through interpreter Ana Marie Cruz.

Support from the local community, such as restaurants and medical clinics staying open during shutdowns, helped the Minneapolis based pros triumph.

In August, James went on to win the WBA interim welterweight crown and Morrell captured the WBA interim super middleweight belt.

"[It] feels good to know that I'm one of the names, me and my brother David Morrell, that is bringing boxing back in a huge way to Minnesota," said James.

With success comes opportunity. Now both world title fighters, James and Morrell are using some of their winnings and boxing knowledge to give back to the Barnum community. They've helped upgrade the gym, and plan to launch an after school youth program later this spring.

"First and foremost it's a great opportunity for the youth that I wish I had gotten when I was young and that age in Cuba," said Morrell. "For myself [it's a way to] teach a Cuban style of boxing that is not common up here to the youth."

"It's going to be a place to come to hang out, know that you're around people that are very highly motivated, [and have] wellness and health in mind," said publicist Robb Leer. "It's going to be just an opportunity to grow together, and perhaps reach the lofty goals that these two pro boxers did in their lifetime."

Leer added that the program will be free and open to anybody from six years old to 90 who prioritize wellness and want to learn from champions. 


Alicia Tipcke

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