April 9th, 2008
By Jesse Kelley
Heavyweight John Sargent (27-5, 16 ko's) will resurrect his boxing
career on April 12th at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker,MN.
The 44 year old fighter will return to the ring after more then
a three year absence, facing Ritchie Goosehead in the shows headliner.
Sargent admits that this will probably be his last run at facing
either a top name or getting a title shot. Dedication for the
native fighter has been a question in the past but Sargent says
his heart is in this final stand more then ever as he has been
training in the cities for the last four months with nothing to
lose. Perhaps his final comeback will lead to his greatest accomplishment
Growing up and Amateur boxing days
John Melvin Sargent was known by many as being a tough fighter
who comes right after you. Especially
in his days as an amateur and throughout the 90's where he frequently
headlined pro boxing cards around the state of Minnesota and across
the country. It was a toughness that Sargent credits getting from
his mother, who raised a total of eleven kids in a two bedroom
house on a reservation in Naytahwaush, MN.
"Growing up, we were poor and didnt have a lot of money
but we were happy with what our mother could provide for us."
"She raised us mostly by herself. My mom toughed it out though.
She did what she could do to raise us right. Well she thought
she raised us right anyway (laughing)! She did a good job though
and we eventually moved to a bigger house."
himself busy like any other child growing up. Hanging out with
friends after school and sports were what he most looked forward
to. As he grew older he tried football and basketball but says
they didn't interest him much because of the team element.
"I really liked to win at an early age" said Sargent.
"Those sports really didnt interest me though because
I liked doing things for myself. When I found boxing, I was hooked
because it was just me in there against the other guy."
that he first put on a pair of boxing gloves at the age of eight.
Again, his mother played a pivotal role in his life.
" My mom used to go to Cass Lake and Red Lake to watch boxing
matches. She would come home and brag about some of the Native
fighters, guys like Richard Clark, Victor White, Mike Robinson,
They were all winning and those were the names I heard. It seemed
like she would go once or twice a month and she would come bring
those stories back to us kids about how cool it looked. They used
to have trophies and she would always want one of her kids to
come back with one of them. And towards the end of my amateur
career I did bring some back!"
In most cases, boxing
coaches will tell you that kids frequently show up to boxing gyms
with a curious face, wondering what the sport is all about. More
times than not, they never show up again. Sargent found himself
drawn to the sport and stuck with it. However, it wasn't until
he met his first boxing coach, Jerry Roy, that boxing became more
then just something to pass time.
"Jerry is the first guy that really started working with
me. He is the one that got me seriously into it. Jerry stayed
after me and could see the talent I had. He knew I had heart and
that I wanted to fight."
Sargent humorously recalls his early days spent in the boxing
"gym" during the cold winter months in northern Minnesota;
"We used to train in a big building that we had to light
the wood stove all winter. By the time we had it warmed up we
were done training already! It was cold.
As an amateur boxer,
Sargent remains one of the most decorated fighters on a long list
of great champions from the midwest region, having won the Upper
Midwest Golden Gloves heavyweight division title once and super
heavyweight four times.
"When I won the first Upper Midwest Tournament, that really
surprised me. I knew I had the heart and the desire to win but
the first one was a surprise to me because I had no idea I could
win or what to expect. I just went in there and fought. I did
what I do best which is use my speed and heart. That is what I
used in the first one. I did have a little power but not as much
as I would later. After that first night I really wanted it bad.
I won the Upper Midwest three times and then got away from boxing
for a little bit. I came back and won it two more times in 1988
That final year turned
out to be one of the highest points for sargent in the ring as
he went on to place second in the National Golden Gloves tournament.
Minnesota boxing icon Terry Marsh spent time with Sargent at Nationals
where he describes the final bout against ring legend Larry Donald.
" He (Sargent) was very talented and very deceiving in the
ring. Everybody took him lightly before his fights. John is the
type of guy that comes at you and Larry was always moving. They
made a big deal about the fight on Espn. Donald was being compared
to Ali and Sargent was Frazier. John didnt really get a
chance to get close in the first two rounds. He did a little better
in the third round. He had to win four times to get to the finals.
He beat some very good fighters to get there."
Besides being in the
ring with the likes of Donald, Sargent has brushed shoulders during
his travels with some of boxing most notable names.
"Going to Nationals was fun because I met Mike Tyson and
Evander Holyfield In 1983-84. I almost got to fight Tyson a few
times. We were in the same bracket but always a fight or two away.
Of course I was the one that lost out of the two (laughing)!
In 88 I ran into Riddick Bowe, Ray Mercer, a lot of the big name
guys down there. Basically all of those guys that came out of
the 88 Olympics. I was in all of those tournaments they were in
twice a year."
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO WHERE JOHN DISCUSSES
HIS PROFESSIONAL BOXING CAREER AND MORE