By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News —
When a fighter decides he or she wants to become a professional, the fight game has to take over that person's entire life.
That's why North Tonawanda's Jake Ventry (9-1 amateur record) recently dropped out of high school to focus all of his energy and attention on training to become a pro boxer. His father, David Ventry, has opened up Thunder Boxing on Oliver Street in North Tonawanda to give his son a fighting chance at climbing the ladder of the sport.
Ventry recently lost his first amateur fight by decision after earning victories the first nine times he stepped in the ring. The Niagara Falls native is currently preparing for the Golden Gloves tournament in January and then plans to turn pro later in 2013 if things go well in the "Gloves."
"We're hoping Jake can make it to nationals and do well, and then next year he can go pro," David said. "That's why he's not going to school. He comes here and runs in the morning, does light weight training and then does sparring in the evening. We have high hopes for him."
Ventry is a talented puncher with a passion for the sport that began when he was a little boy. David boxed in the Navy and continued to compete when he got out and started working construction. Ventry spent many days of his childhood in the gym, watching and mimicking his father's every move, and that experience has spawned an experienced and eager fighter ready to take on all comers.
"My style is a boxer-puncher, I can fight from the outside and inside," Ventry said. "I prefer for people to go shot for shot with me but I can box from the outside too. I'm pretty slick. ... If I want to go anywhere I have to beat anyone that's in front of me and if that means getting hit hard a few times it doesn't matter."
"(Jake) understands what he's doing in the ring," David added. "He has a reall good ability to slip and move, and make people miss. He's got real quick hands."
In Ventry's last fight, he fought a senior fighter for the first time in his career and David said the fight showed his son what's it like to face a grown man.
"Up until now he's only fought 16- and 17-year-olds," David said. "He learned a lesson about what it's like facing a grown man. The fight before that he won by second round knockout and just ran right through the kid. But when he fought this last time and he hurt the guy, that guy was able to come back."
Thunder Boxing is expected to be fully operational starting Jan. 1. Before the building was opened several weeks ago, Ventry had to travel to Buffalo two or three times a week to train. The new gym in his own backyard allows the 17-year-old boxer to train five days a week.
David expects his son's conditioning and skill level to improve after he's able to put in a few weeks of consistent training at Thunder Boxing.
"He's really been taking his training seriously since the last fight," David said. "Even when he wasn't in great shape he could beat kids his age because he's always been around boxing. But now as he starts facing the more elite guys his conditioning has to be there because these guys have also been in the gym their whole lives."
Even with an unsatisfactory training area for his last fight, David said his son turned in a strong showing and his opponent ended up "puking in the dressing room" after the fight because of Ventry's violent body shots.
Ventry fights at 118 pounds and he said one of the aspects of the sport that people don't really understand is the physical toll it takes on a fighter's body — and not just in terms of damage. It takes extreme conditioning to compete at the highest level of the sport.
"A lot of people don't realize how physical it is," he said. "There's a lot of work on the inside that's leaning on each other. It's really hard and you have to put in a ton of work. It's the most brutal full-body sport in the world."
He also said it takes a unique individual to be willing to step in the ring.
"I like getting hit and I like hitting people," he said. "My doctor before told me — I had a concussion or something and — that I shouldn't spar or train for a fight for a couple months, but I didn't care. It's the first thing that's important to me."
Ventry's first fight in the Golden Gloves is scheduled for Jan. 12 and will take place at the Tralf Music Hall on Main Street in downtown Buffalo.Contact Sports Editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find Tonawanda News sports on Twitter @tonanewssports.