Nick Irvin, JABS Boxing Club

Coach Nick Irvin, right, trains a client in boxing as part of the JABS Boxing club. The group plans to move to a Kankakee location after its host gym, Genesis Martial Arts & Fitness in Bradley, permanently closed during the COVID-19 shutdown.

KANKAKEE — One of the main lessons JABS boxing coaches try to teach the youth they train is to “leave it all in the ring.”

“You’re a dog in the ring, and you’re a gentleman outside of the ring,” as Coach Jay Thurmond puts it. “We take care of everything inside of the ring.”

This mentality, combined with self-discipline and physical training, creates a certain level of confidence in the young boys and girls who take up boxing, Thurmond said.

It is the hope of the four Junior Advanced Boxing & Sports (JABS) coaches that this approach will lead them to become productive citizens as adults, even if they come from a less fortunate background, Thurmond said.

JABS, which includes coaches Thurmond, Chancie Greer, Nicholas Irvin and Roger Lane, operated as part of Genesis Martial Arts & Fitness in Bradley until the gym permanently closed during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Now the group is planning to relocate JABS as an independent gym for boxing in Kankakee, which will be open to both boys and girls ages 7 years to adult.

Thurmond said all the JABS boxing coaches are family-oriented men who share the same goals of helping to guide young people and giving back to the Kankakee County community.

“It’s bigger than just the boxing itself,” he said. “We want to be able to not only teach the young men how to box, but sometimes somebody may need a coat because it’s cold outside; maybe they need something to eat. We want to be able to provide that.”

An opening date for JABS is not yet certain, as the former church building at 798 E Willow St. needs renovations, and the timeline for when gyms can resume normal operations depends on how fast the state moves through its reopening phases.

The group is currently seeking donations for its “JABS building fund” on GoFundMe, organized by Nicholas Irvin.

“What we wanted to do was put it in the neighborhood where kids don’t have to bus in because it’s right there,” he said. “We’re looking forward to getting children that maybe have issues staying focused or staying on task with school work, children with a lot of aggression or with ADHD. It all helps.”

When they are able to open the gym, those who sign up will have plenty of options and guidance, Thurmond said. Whether their goal is to take boxing all the way and compete in tournaments, to stay in shape or to learn to defend themselves against bullies at school, JABS coaches can help.

“We are excited about actually being able to give back. It’s definitely needed,” Thurmond said. “People all the time, you see it on social media everywhere, ‘Where are the men at? Men need to step up,’ that kind of thing. Well, here we are.”


Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools.

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