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 Story & Photos by John DiSanto


Philadelphia’s Fred Jenkins has been training boxers for a long time.  Before that, he was a fighter himself.  The PA Boxing Hall of Famer has been in the sport for 43 years, and after all that time, and after developing countless boxers at the ABC Recreation Center in North Philly, all his hard work just might pay off with his latest pupil, heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings, 18-0, 10 KOs.  The pair travel to Madison Square Garden this weekend to take on Mike Perez, 20-0-1, 12 KOs, in a 12-round WBC title eliminator. 

Tell me about Bryant Jennings. 

  “He’s a unique individual.  He likes to be challenged, and whatever challenge comes, he puts it in the back of his mind that he’s got to complete the challenge and out-do the next guy.  That’s his pattern of fighting, and that’s his pattern in life.  He’s always out-doing the next person.”

What does he have to do to out-do Mike Perez? 

  “He’s got to stay ahead on each round, don’t come from behind.  He got to win each round.  No matter what Perez brings to the table, Bryant (must be) able to adjust to the situation and win the round.  I’ll tell you what, the best thing for Mike Perez is not to hit Bryant.  If he don’t hit Bryant, it will be a nice fight.  As soon as he hits Bryant, the fight’s going to change around.” 

Bryant has developed quickly, but he hasn’t seen everything yet.  How do you prepare him for the things he hasn’t seen? 

  “You have to realize, he’s only been in the business five years.  I’ve been in the business 43 years.  So what he don’t see, I’ve already seen.  I usually try to prepare him for it, whether he knows it or not.  So when we train, we do a lot of different styles.  We consistently go over different patterns of fighting.  So when he’s in the ring, and the opportunity shows itself, he’s going to automatically do it.” 

How about that tough night that every fighter eventually has, getting knocked down and such? 

  “You rely on his conditioning.  Every fighter should get up from a knockdown.  Every fighter, if they are conditioned right, can get up.” 

Bryant is so confident.  How important is that when he gets in that ring?    

  “It’s very important.  It’s what keeps him motivated.  He believes that he’s great.  It’s not my job to change that.  As long as he stays that way, my job is to keep him over-confident, make him think that he’s invincible.  And that’s the way he is.  He was an ordinary guy before I created a monster.  No matter what he do outside the ring, he got to perform inside the ring.” 

If he wins the world title…

You say ‘if’.  I say he going to win the world title when the opportunity comes.  I have to think that way at all times because that’s the purpose of training a fighter.  You can’t put no doubt in his mind.  When the opportunity comes, he will win the world title. 

When he wins the world title, you’ll have another world champion to your credit.  Tell me about your first one, Charlie Choo-Choo Brown.

  “He was 22, I was 25.  But not only Choo-Choo Charlie Brown.  Rockin’ Rodney Moore, Zahir Raheem, David Reid, Malik Scott, Randy Griffin, Anthony “The Messenger” Thompson.  There’s a whole slew of fighters.  So my work speaks for itself.  They don’t belong to nobody else.  They belong to me.  I started all those guys from scratch.  Working with all those guys. Learning their ups and downs, and the ins and outs of boxing.  Bryant Jennings is the final result. 


What’s the secret to your success?

“Just being around boxing for 43 years.  You look for ways to make your fighter focus better than the other fighter.  My success is always open to keep learning.  Once you say you know it all, that’s when you fail.  I don’t know it all.  I’m still learning as I go.”




John DiSanto - North Philly - July 21, 2014