JOLIET – More than 500 amateur boxers traveled to Charleston, West Virginia last week to compete in the 2017 USA Boxing Junior Olympics.
Among them was Joseph “Jojo” Awinongya of Joliet, and he came home a champion.
Awinongya was among 12 fighters from Illinois competing, and he won the 9-to-10-year-old, 85-pound division.
Continuing his momentum from winning the National Silver Gloves, Jojo won by RSC (referee stopping contest) over Tyquan Lockett to become a two-time national champion. An RSC is the term used to stop a bout when a boxer is outclassed or unfit to continue.
“The first round he slipped and fell, the second round there were two eight-counts and the third round there was going to be a third eight-count, but the referee stopped it,” Jojo said as he recounted the fight.
Next up for the young fighter will be more training over summer break and plans to travel to various locations to spar with other fighters. Jojo’s father, Joseph Awinongya, is his primary trainer and keeps a strict regimen.
“Boxing is a little bit hard, it’s a discipline and it is how you train,” Joseph said. “It is not just fun. You can’t just put a kid in there and the kid doesn’t have it, and you are just getting hit in your head. So when you have a kid, you teach them the right way.”
Jojo will continue to train at Chicago Sports & Fitness Club in Joliet, the same gym where he has been training for more than three years.
Hawk Chevrolet of Joliet is Jojo’s main sponsor, and the business contributed to the trip to West Virginia for the Junior Olympics. General manager Jim Muisenga has been sponsoring him for almost two years and has been happy to sponsor the local athlete.
“As long as he wants to do it, is having fun and is not getting hurt, we don’t mind sponsoring,” Muisenga said.
The Awinongya family and Hawk Chevrolet have built a lasting relationship.
“If I find someplace that the energy connects with my son and everything is moving good, I keep it that way,” Joseph said.
Jojo is making a name for himself as a two-time national champion out of Joliet and the bar has already been raised to Olympic proportions. Joseph is constantly hearing from other coaches that his son will someday make it big in the sport of boxing.
If Jojo achieves his goals, he will enter the Golden Gloves at 17 years old and the Olympic Games not long after that.