ESPN Junior Welterweight Tournament
Up until the ESPN Junior Welterweight Tournament the cemetery had been giving Jamie extra time off for fights. Sometimes he had to travel for a fight, and they might give him an extra two or three days off so he could take the fight.
We worked together, and we trained together on a daily basis, and we always talked boxing, but one thing was why do guys do this? Why do guys chase a dream? I mean why fight pro? The odds are bad. But it’s not as if you think about not making it; you’re going to be the one, the one that makes it. If you invested seven plus years in a successful amateur career why not see if you can make it pay?
But the real part is about how you don’t want to be a wage slave for the rest of your life. Boxing is hard, hard work and struggle, and it’s dangerous, but you are working for your dream. You’re not under some assholes thumb; you don’t have to put up with petty workplace bullshit. Most jobs are a living death, a soul death. If you have even half a chance; I mean if you were special, like Ollenberger, then it wasn’t even a real choice. But they forced him to make the choice.
The cemetery was a good job, maybe the job of a lifetime. That’s what Jamie told me, “This is a once in a lifetime job.” Secure, comfortable and well paying; the Laborers Union, there was even a pension. Working class guys find a good job and stick to it; that’s their career.
Tony Dowling got Jamie a slot in the ESPN Tournament. Jamie had 16 fights going in with one loss against Ricky Anderson for the Canadian title. Jamie held the Pacific Northwest Junior Welterweight Title going into the tournament. He beat the first guy, over eight rounds, Grant Walters, in AC, at Resorts International on June 25, 1985.
This was when the board of directors made Jamie choose. But as I said, it wasn’t a choice. They made him quit. I had had cancer surgery the month before. You will walk on security to follow a dream, and I ended up walking because that job wasn’t any fun anymore. Not without Jamie there. There is nothing more secure than death but given that I had confronted my mortality, I was free to chase something, anything, free to run. And I did run.
Jamie won the second round of the tournament over ten rounds against Ali Kareem Muhammad at the Showboat in Vegas; 1985 September 20.
Jamie lost to Ramon Santana in the final at the Showboat again on November 30, 1985. A bad loss, but he avoided the knockout. I wasn’t around Jamie much at this point. I had quit the cemetery myself in September, and I had been receiving radiation just prior. I was living on unemployment insurance, living with my girlfriend in a doomed relationship. I ended up moving back to the States. I reconnected with Jamie in Stockton. I was on my way to LA. In 1987 I was living in Vegas, and he had found a sponsor and moved to Vegas,and we started training together again at the Golden Gloves Gym on Oaky.