EUGENE, Ore. -- Springfield High School graduate Jake Wilson grew up to become a professional boxer, but when he’s not training for a fight he’s volunteering his time teaching kids the value of hard work and dedication.
Wilson trains at the Peaceful Fighter Inc. gym in downtown Eugene, and every Saturday he helps put on The Pay It Forward program for kids in the neighborhood—a free fighting fundamentals and boxing workshop.
"I don't know if I had the best role models when I was a kid,” said Wilson at the gym on Saturday, “and I struggled a lot early in life, and I just want to be a good example for people, the good example I didn't have."
The program does not cost the kids money, but they are required to pay it forward to participate.
"Work hard when they're here,” said Wilson in between training with a 5-year-old from Eugene, “and when they go out into the community, be good people. That's what we're trying to send to them. That's our message."
Before the workshop convenes, each child is expected to share with the group a good work they performed in their community that week.
On this particular Saturday Wilson and his sparring partner showed all the kids the kind of fighting that is expected to stay in the gym.
“We’re not going hard,” said Wilson, strapping on his gloves, “this is going to be a light round.”
Wilson demonstrated a three-minute round, one similar to the four-round fight he has coming up on February 23.
The fight, his second professional bout, will be held at Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Washington.
The Pay It Forward program is held at Peaceful Fighter Inc. in downtown Eugene every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m.