For the past six years, I’ve had the privilege to submerge myself into the boxing scene as a writer and a fan. It has been a fascinating road because, well, it is fascinating sport. But above all, it has meant the most because of the people I have come across.
While everyone has a story, I have to say, the most powerful ones usually come from those who aren’t afraid to give it all. Today I’d like to share a piece about Joseph Charlton, the boxer, coach and father who is also a strong and caring member of the boxing community here in Portland.
Joseph boxed from the age of 10-21 years old. With the help of his dad, he found a sport he fell in love with. His older brother was instrumental in his decision as well. With that said, he isn’t the new kid or new guy in the boxing scene. He is in fact another name we all should be familiar with.
Having been around boxing for this long, he has the experience to witness firsthand the needs boxing has when it comes to support from state officials, community members at large, opportunities for boxing to grow and, more importantly, the need to place and enforce safeguards in boxing clubs to keep children safe at all times.
It is that knowledge and experience that brought him to start East Side Boxing, a club dedicated and structured to fit individuals of ALL backgrounds who are interested in learning, recreational training and even training to compete.
A place where money is not a problem to join. A place where schedules can be structured in a way to be effective but not obstructive to fulfill anyone’s dream to box. A club that, per their Facebook Page, has a task at hand that is simple: “You don’t have to compete, but always train like you are going to.”
“My priorities are those who want to box.” he said during an interview with one of his pupils, who happens to be his son Matthew Charlton. “I make sure my kids train hard but have fun at the same time. I watch very carefully who is training with these kids. I take the responsibility of making sure they are safe seriously.
“If you are going to be training with us, you better be honest and safe to be around. I don’t judge anyone, but I do want to make sure our kids are safe. Sometimes some bad people join clubs and without the proper safeguards, they train next to kids or peers they shouldn’t be around.
“That’s a big deal to me and a big ‘no!’ That’s why I make sure I protect my kids and refuse to train or fight anyone who is or can be unsafe to be around. I am a strong believer that as coaches and clubs we have a responsibility to keep an eye on everyone who comes through our doors. Sometimes people get kicked out of other clubs because of something they did and they just move around and nobody knows. I make sure I do thorough checks on those who come to train with us. Safety in my club comes first.”
No doubt safety is a priority to him. When it comes to accountability, Joseph has a very strong stance as well. He makes it very clear that there is a commitment to wanting to compete, but you are always welcome to train if you want to build up your path. “I have met great guys who want to box. They are very good, but they can’t commit. I always encourage them and welcome them to train, but if you want to compete you have to put in the work.”
Making sure there is a place where people can train and prepare to compete is very important to Joseph as a coach and as a member of the community he lives in. He puts in anything from 2-5 hours every evening to train his team. A team that started with his son and daughter and has grown in members throughout the years. They train with other clubs and even spar with potential challengers as well, giving them an edge to advantage and putting them at risk to share their strategy for the fight too.
It is his ability to be competitive, as well as being a team player, that has allowed Joseph to not only put his club in the PNW scene but also on the map when it comes to national events. His boxers are a force to be reckoned with and have proudly represented the club at different levels within the well known National Golden Gloves Tournaments, Junior Olympics and even Pro-Boxing shows! With Matthew Charlton reaching 100 fights at the age of 14 and Isaiah Schaub being named the Red Shield Novice champ of 2019, East Side Boxing represents and they do it very well!
And while Joseph’s story is not the only one in the scene, his story is one of a kind. A single father of three, he manages to give his time to his team in between school drop-offs and other activities his children and family are involved in.
Having defeated cancer three times and gone through a cardiac scare, you wouldn’t know it by just looking at him. Because when you see Joseph you see a strong sense of energy. A positive disposition. A “can do” attitude that knows no defeat. A man who wants to see a community united. A man who promotes inclusiveness and equality and isn’t afraid to promote it by exercising it himself.
Because his story highlights many attributes many of us lack. After all, most of us, regardless of how much privilege we have, we often take but don’t take time to give back. But that’s not “Joe” as his friends call him. He continues to give and share all that he has and is about. Regardless of all challenges, he always manages to not only bounce back, but return to continue with his mission to bring his community together in a determined and safe environment for ALL those who wish to box even after life has tried to send him to the mat multiple times.
It is for that reason that today yours truly felt inspired to share his story. Especially as he sits in recovery from a cardiac scare as I type each and one of these lines. And make no mistake I am not the only one who feels inspired and is wishing him well. His boxing community is too and here are what a couple of them had to say:
Omar Solano Huesca (Coach at Beaverton PAL) –
“I want to say I feel sad about what Joe is going through. I know Him for several years as a boxing trainer and father .. I hope he recovers soon.”
Jacob Williams (Coach at Silverback Boxing Club) –
“He has always been a competitive friend … we always have a good time with our kids talking smack … he has always offered for us to ride with him to anything he is driving to if its too far for us … Other than that he has big ass dome and he likes them shitty New England Patriots :-)”
As you can see, this is a story we had to tell not only to wish him well, but because he is an inspiration within the boxing community and we all know his story will touch people all across the board.
If you are interested in being part of the story he is writing, feel free to contact East Side Club. It’s the one club that time after time emphasizes the message they were founded upon: “We do not charge. Our goal is to never let finances get in the way of somebody who wants to play sports. If your child a boy or girl is age 8 to 18 , and you would like them to box , and be trained by a certified USA boxing coach , let us know.” #EASTSIDEBOXING