Oakdale veteran picks up a new hobby: boxing


Jake Raymond, 24, of Oakdale picked up boxing after attending a boxing showcase at the city’s annual Summerfest celebration this year. He has been training since July, and competed in his first fight in mid-October. (submitted photo)

Raymond admits his first fight, held at the Uppercut Boxing Club in Minneapolis Oct. 12, was “not great,” but plans on continuing his training. He says he never intended to be a competitive boxer, but wanted to use the sport as a way to stay in shape. (submitted photos)
Johanna Holub
news editor

Jake Raymond, 24, has many titles. Father of two, husband, student, Oakdale resident, military veteran, runner. And now, he can add another to the list: amateur boxer.

Raymond, a former member of the North High School wrestling team, says individual sports have always drawn his interest.

“I always loved sports and the individual challenge,” Raymond explains. “I enjoy that type of competition.”

Raymond joined the Army after graduating high school in 2007. He was stationed at Fort Drum in New York and returned to Minnesota in 2012. A few months ago, he moved into a home in Oakdale with his wife, whom he met in high school through the Air Force JROTC program, and their two young sons. Raymond grew up in Maplewood, and says he’s happy to be back in the area.

In June he attended Oakdale’s annual Summerfest festival, and it affected his life more than he had planned.

“At Summerfest this year, there was a boxing showcase that I went to. I ran into a couple people I knew and mentioned how I might be interested in boxing as a workout,” Raymond says.

Shortly thereafter, Raymond found himself at the White Bear Lake Boxing Club, training under coaches Gary Struss and Jose Becerra.

“I just wanted to go there to get into shape,” Raymond recalls. “Competing wasn’t even on my mind.”

Raymond reveals that his newfound interest in boxing really came down to chance.

“Around the same time I was looking into boxing, I had put in an application for an indoor soccer league,” he says. “But I never heard back. I could’ve been doing that instead.”

“My life would probably be a lot happier [playing soccer],” he jokes.

Debut fight

Whether driven by the desire to compete or a frenzied lunacy, Raymond decided to sign up for his debut fight in mid-October at the Uppercut Boxing Club in Minneapolis. The fight, part of the Golden Gloves Boxing Show, pitted him against fellow amateur Jeremiah Jacobs for three 2-minute rounds.

The result? “Not great,” Raymond says of the matchup, which he ended up losing. “The other guy had been training over a year. (But) it was a very good fight.”

Another fight may be in his future, he says, but after a bit more training.

As for what he’s learned from his new sport thus far, Raymond says he’s realized how much time it takes to become good at a new skill.

“I’ve definitely gained a new appreciation for things you’re doing for the first time. I have a newfound appreciation for the world of amateur boxing. It’s a great sport to be involved in.”

Boxing, studying, running

Raymond, in addition to training at the boxing gym for nearly three hours a day, is a full-time student at Rasmussen College in Lake Elmo. He’s studying to earn his bachelor’s degree in business management, and hopes to someday own his own business, preferably in a fitness-based field, like a boxing gym or fitness center franchise.

Additionally, Raymond spends a lot of time with his neighbors running around the streets of Oakdale with the Club Helena Roadrunners, who are committed to running at least a mile every day. Mohammad Zafar, the club’s original organizer, says Raymond is the fastest of the group.

And the proof is in the pudding—Raymond recently ran away with first place at a charity 5K with a time of 21:40. He says he usually runs around a 5:40 mile with the running group.

“Staying active and physically fit is something I think is really important. (Club Helena) is a community thing, but we’re taking it past just running one mile every night,” Raymond says, referencing a block party the neighborhood held earlier this month.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

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