By John J. Raspanti
Last year at the Billar El Perro Salado in Tijano, Bajo, California, Mexico, young cruiserweight Javonta Charles faced gigantic heavyweight Juan Luis Lopez Alcarez.
Alcarez tipped the scales at 275 pounds. The big man hasn’t won many fights in his career, but when he does, it’s by knockout. He likely figured he’d have an easy time with Charles—whom he outweighed by 74 pounds.
But instead, it was rangy Charles who brought the fight to Lopez Alcarez. He snapped his head back with jabs. He connected with uppercuts.
After landing numerous hooks in Round two, the referee waved off the contest.
The win was Charles’ fourth straight, all by knockout.
Charles, 33, was born in Louisiana and spent most of his youth fighting bullies, racists, and gangs. It was all about feeding his family.
“I was blessed to be born a male raised around predominantly female relatives,“ Charles told this writer a few weeks ago via email. “They all loved me. My poor upbringing wasn’t so bad.”
Before he discovered boxing, Charles, in his own words, was “Just another young and dumb street gangsta’, pants sagging, gang bangin’, fast talking, street playa’.
“One day, when I was 24, I ran into the Liberty Bowl Stadium and joined the Memphis PAL. My mentor and coach was Elderidge ’Pete’ Mitchell. He attempted to make me quit for two weeks. But, once he realized that I wouldn’t quit, and seeing how far I ran just to train, he took me under his wing. I wanted to be undisputed champion.”
His amateur career was spotty—though he did manage rank in the top three National Golden Gloves and the USA Boxing Nationals.
Most of his wins were by stoppage. Charles time in the amateur ranks didn’t provide the memories he was looking for.
“It was training and celebrated sparring,” Charles said. “Plus, my team and I did not focus or care about what it was, but seeing, improving or destroying.”
Charles turned professional in 2013 by scoring two first round knockouts in Mississippi. Things were going well. He was building a road to the top. Then it all stopped. He didn’t fight again for three years.
“I wasn’t prepared to fully accept and conquer the battles - and the responsibilities that came along with my ambitions,” Charles said matter-of-factly. “You first must master yourselves, before you can ever master anything else.”
After mapping out a plan for his future, and growing up a little, Charles returned to the ring last year with one of the best trainers in his corner
Some people are born teachers. Kenny Adams is one of them. Born over 70 years ago in Springfield, MO, he first felt the boxing urge when he was 5 or 6. His amateur career began at 12. He eventually captured championships in the U.S. Army and service tournaments. After serving his country for 30 years, Adams became a full-time trainer.
In 1984, he helped the United States Olympic team capture nine gold medals. Four years later, promoted to head coach of the Olympic team, he led his squad to three golds and three silvers.
Adams moved to the pro ranks in 1989, achieving quick success when his fighter, Rene Jacquot, upset then-welterweight champion Donald Curry.
Over the course of his career, Adams has trained world champions, including Diego Corrales, Vince Phillips, Kennedy McKinney, Michael Nunn, Cory Spinks and Johnny Tapia.
Adams met Charles in 2009.He worked with the young fighter for a week and the two men connected. Charles feels that whatever success he achieved as an amateur was due to Adam’s influence.
Reunited in the professional ranks, Charles is enjoying working with Adams.
“The training with Kenny Adams is going exceptionally well,” Charles said. “The Master Sergeant (Adams) and I have traded our initial coach-pupil chin shots in, and gut checks.
Adams likes what he sees in his young charge.
“He’s got speed, quick reflexes, and power,” Adams told this writer on the phone a few weeks ago. “He’s a quick learner and works hard. He got in the wrong thing as an amateur.”
Charles is tentatively scheduled to return to the ring April 29 in Virginia. Adams, wary the politics of boxing, wants to make sure his fighter gets a fair shake.
In other words, no hometown decisions or shady refereeing.
Charles, nicknamed “Super Saiyan Black” after a Dragonball character, just wants to fight.
“Fighting is easy,” said the father of three, who, along with his wife, recently obtained a foster care license. “No one to shoot or shoot back at me. Worst case scenario? I get dropped. But I am so damn stubborn, I won’t stay down. And I am truly in love with
what I do and my boxing family.”
People with a passion for what they do are often determined and underestimated, seeing possibilities others don’t.
Javonta Charles is four fights into his career. He sees himself as a world champion someday on a path guided by an experienced trainer and a faith in his abilities. He’ll face whatever obstacle is put in front of him.
Even a 275 pound giant.