Joshua Jackson and Coach Al Lowe Boxing Club

Junios Smith | August 28th, 2017
Joshua Jackson (Photos by Toni Shaw Photography)

Joshua Jackson (Photos by Toni Shaw Photography)

The founder created a legacy that continues to carry on.
In 1972, Al Lowe founded the Lindley Boxing Club in Greensboro as a way to give the youth an opportunity to learn how to fight with technique. Over the years, thousands of boxers have trained at the center with Lowe coaching for nearly 40 years. Lowe retired in 2011 after working 39 years with the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department and died at the age of 89 on Oct. 28, 2015. Before retiring, Lowe left the gym in good hands with a former trainee — Robert Chapman — who came to the gym at a young age to learn the sport.

“I’ve known Al nearly my whole life,” Chapman said. “When I was 9, my brothers, some friends and I went to the boxing club and I started learning from him.” Chapman currently runs the Boxing Club — renamed the Coach Al Lowe Boxing Club in 2011 — and has a strong boxing resume. While Chapman never went on the professional circuit, he amassed a 112-8 record as an amateur, along with picking up 10 victories in what he called “tough-man competitions” in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

“The tough man competitions were like a brawling type of thing,” Chapman said “Anyone can enter the fight from different weight classes. Some of the prizes were as high as $1,000 too.”

Chapman said he didn’t go pro because of other obligations, but under Lowe’s tutelage he has amassed 30 years of coaching at the Club. “I got married and other responsibilities came up, so I felt like I didn’t have the time to be a professional,” Chapman said. “I wanted to take care of my family, so Al taught me how to train the fighters. There are so many different styles that we teach out here and these guys go out and compete. I enjoy what the fighters are doing and it feels good to guide them with what I’ve learned from Al.”

Chapman trains boxers of all ages, going from the youth to as old as 60 years old. While only a handful fight professionally, Chapman said it’s recreational for most. “It’s a great way to stay in shape and there are a lot of guys who love the sport,” Chapman said.

Among those who train at the Club include Joseph Jackson, who got into boxing in 2012 and has been fighting professionally for two years.
“There aren’t a lot of boxing gyms in Greensboro and I heard this one was the best in town,” Jackson said. “I went there and started learning with Coach Chapman and another guy, Sabir Rivers. They taught me the basics here and after a while they thought I should go pro, which I did around the end of 2015.” Jackson said his interaction with Lowe was minimal, but had the utmost respect for him.

“He was on his way out when I was coming in, but when I was sparring he would give me tips,” Jackson said. “He was a very cool guy and dedicated to the sport.
A 2008 graduate of James Dudley High School, Jackson played running back on the state-championship winning Panthers squad. Jackson said while there were some comparisons to the gridiron, there were also noticeable differences. “It was a big transition between football and boxing. It’s still a contact sport, but I had to learn different techniques, get better with my hand-eye coordination and footwork. Boxing is more mental than physical.”

While there has been a process, Jackson has flourished in the junior middleweight division, starting his professional career with seven straight wins and five knockouts. Although he has experienced great success with boxing, Jackson remains humble and said protecting his loved ones play a role in his dedication. “I really want to provide for my kids and my family,” Jackson said. “I’ve been working a job for 10 years and this started as a hobby, but as I got better, I started to compete. Of course, I want to be the world champion, but my biggest goal is to be successful and make sure my family is straight at the end of the day.”

Chapman said he likes Jackson’s work ethic, especially from a man who jumped into the professional ranks rather quickly. “He didn’t have a long amateur career,” Chapman said. “He had maybe five or six fights before turning pro, but he only lost one. He’s dedicated, comes in just about every day to train and is one of the hardest workers in the gym. It means the world to me to see somebody put in the hard work and come out successful.” While Jackson has become a success story, Chapman said boxing takes plenty of dedication.

“Boxing is not for everyone,” Chapman said. “It’s a hard sport and guys find out early. I can have 20 guys come in and work out, but in about six months four may stay. A lot of guys like to fight, but they don’t want to work out to become a fighter. You can’t just jump in and be Floyd Mayweather overnight.” Chapman added Mayweather’s longevity in the game also comes from aesthetics beyond the ring.

“Floyd has good people around him, making the right decisions for him to keep fighting as long as he has,” Chapman said. “You have to get a team around you who knows what you can and can’t do. For example, Floyd won’t fight a younger guy coming up — boxing is a young man’s sport and you won’t last as long the older you get. Of course, he took the fight with Conor McGregor because of the money deal, plus he’s not as skilled as someone who has been doing it professionally for a while.”

Chapman has dedicated his life to boxing and said he isn’t thinking about changing his course any time soon. “I’m going to keep coaching until I can’t do it no more,” Chapman said. “I love boxing and I’ll continue coaching guys what I’ve learned from Al. I don’t plan on retiring.”

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