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Becoming a Boxing Legend

He’s attracted attention from major TV networks like Showtime and Sky Sports for the boxers he trains and has been praised by top sporting website Bleacher Report, that named him one of the top boxing coaches. Cooper Fitness Center Boxing Pro Derrick James began boxing at the age of 5 and is just as passionate about the sport today. James discusses what it’s like to train professional fighters and what it takes to become a successful boxer at any age.

 What made you so interested in boxing?

I had an older brother who started boxing and just like all siblings, I admired him. I think it’s the one-on-one competition and the fact that it’s an individual sport. Everything relies upon your hard work and effort or what you did or didn’t do. That’s the great part about it.

 Tell us about your boxing career

I started at the Oak Cliff Boys and Girls Club in Dallas at the age of 5. I had a pretty good amateur career. I won the U.S. Title, the National Junior Olympics and the Under 19 Title Championships in America, which I won twice back-to-back (1989 and 1990). I lost in the Olympic Trials in 1992 and after that, I turned professional. As a pro, I compiled a record of 21 wins, 7 losses. The last 15 years, I have been the Boxing Pro at Cooper Fitness Center, and that’s where I train my fighters now.

                                                                            Who are some of the boxers you train?

    ProZoneBLOGPICI train Errol Spence Jr., who competed in the 2012 Olympics and is currently the number one rated contender in the world. He’ll be challenging for the Welterweight World Title on May 27, in Sheffield, England. I also train Jermell Charlo, the World Boxing Council Super Welterweight World Champion. He won the title for the first time back on April 22, in New York City. I also coach Robert Brant from Minnesota, who’s also fighting for the World Title.


What does it mean to you to train these championship fighters?

I really can’t explain it because I never set out to do this. I’m dedicated to each one of the guys. I train them six days a week and I give them everything they give me. I don’t look at the accolades of it, I just keep working until there’s no more work.

What’s your favorite part about coaching?

My favorite part of coaching is teaching a new technique that the fighter understands and is able to implement the new technique into his game plan. That’s one of the greatest parts about coaching.

 Bleacher Report named you one of the Top 10 boxing coaches of today. How did it feel to receive that honor?

 I think it’s good but you know, I don’t do it for that. I enjoy boxing and it’s my way of life. I come to work seven days a week, that’s my normal routine. So, it makes me feel great, but that’s not why I coach.

 What advice would you give someone who’s interested in boxing?

You just have to be focused, work hard and find someone who can actually help you and get you to the level you want to obtain.

 In your opinion, what sort of skills or mindset makes a championship fighter?

It’s a lot about the mindset. You have to be a very intelligent individual, to be hard-working and have a lot of fortitude, a lot of resilience and the ability to not give up. I think you have to feel that desire to be the best and all of your actions go with the words that you say.

 What do you hope for in your future?

Honestly, I’m already living this dream. My only goal is to be the best I can be, and that means the best trainer, the best friend for the fighters, the best husband, the best father. I’m not worried about the accolades. As long as I’m the best I can be, everything else will fall into place.

Categories: Cooper Updates
  1. Patty Kirk
    May 1, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Great interview from a pro that has his priorities stright!

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