MADISONVILLE- This Saturday is the Rumble at Sequoyah High School, an event sponsored by the Monroe County Boxing Club and will feature 20 bouts with boxers from the boxing club along with boxers from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The boxing club is run by Tellico native Jesse Byers along with his dad Poke Byers.
Poke was a professional boxer, winning titles in Oklahoma and Kansas before moving his family to Tellico Plains. Jesse immediately fell in love with the sport and wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps.
Poke began to coach the young Jesse and eventually the duo would turn to legendary trainer Ace Miller to help Jesse progress in the sport.
Jesse moved to Knoxville to be able to work with Miller and Miller helped Byers with a place to stay and a job. Miller has been credited with giving Jesse his nickname of Cool Hands.
Jesse, under the tutilage of Poke and Ace, competed in several national championships and going against some top competition in Floyd “Money” Mayweather and Oscar Diaz, losing in a close fight to Mayweather and beating Diaz for the national title.
Things were not always good for Byers though as hard times hit early in his career and wrong decisions led him down a road not many recover from.
Shortly after his fight with Mayweather, Byers had been in trouble with drugs and alcohol and spent some time in the Knox County Jail. While there, he saw Mayweather main eventing on ESPN and realized that could have been him.
Poke and Ace were not ready to give up on Jesse and got him out of jail and the young Byers became even more determined to make things right.
Jesse won the 2000 National Golden Gloves Championship. After that, he turned pro, and accomplished his goal of being on ESPN2 and being recognized as an accomplished boxer. The media nicknamed Jesse and Ace the “Comeback Kids” because of Byers return from hard times and Miller returning from a previous heart attack.
Because of this road Jesse has traveled, his focus now is on the Monroe County Boxing Club with dad still by his side.
“I just want to give back to the area that gave me so much in life,” commented Jesse. “I want to give kids a place to go, an alternative, to stay off the streets and out of trouble. I traveled that path and I don’t want to see them go down the same dangerous road.”
With this motivation, Jesse and Poke has established the boxing club as a 501(c) non-profit and rely on fundraising to keep the gym open and provide free membership to anyone ages 8-30, although Jesse said they had a few that were in their 40’s that just want to keep in shape.
Right now the boxing club has 20-30 students with 10 registered to compete. They are open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday and welcome anyone that wants to learn.
Jesse relies on Romans 8:31, which says, “What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”
If you get a chance, go to Sequoyah High School this Saturday and take in some good boxing bouts, support the Monroe County Boxing Club, and maybe if they are not to busy, get a picture and autograph from Monroe County’s own professional boxers, Poke and Jesse Byers.