The terms journeyman, contender and club fighter have varied definitions within the world of boxing in this day and age. They can be used in different ways, sometimes in a derogatory way, meaning a fighter is beneath the level he believes he is at.
The positive side of the definition indicates how these fighters are crucial to the sport of boxing. The tales of club fighters within the USA and journeymen also are that of sporting romance. Anyone who has competed in sports will have stories, but those of club fighters and journeymen always seem to be out there a little more than most.
Marty Jakubowski (below) defined the term club fighter.
After an amateur career that spanned over 150 fights and included two runner up spots in the Chicago Golden Gloves, Jakubowski turned professional, making his debut in Fayetville, Arkansas. Jakubowski explained the reasons why he turned professional and go onto a legendary career.
The Indiana native told ‘The Fight Game’ with Mike Altamura, “Basically I didn’t know anything else but fighting and after I finished runner up in the Golden Gloves my trainers said I might as well turn pro and at least make some money from fighting instead of staying in the amateurs.
“Two weeks later I was fighting on a card in Arkansas. They paid for us to come down so we ate all the way down there. I got $125 for the fight so I didn’t eat all the way home. I wanted to save the money as I come from a poor household and back then that was a lot of money, so I didn’t eat till we got home.”
Marty picked up the wins as a professional, going undefeated for 37 fights. He then got an opportunity to fight Julio Cesar Chavez at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The career lightweight discussed his Dec. 13, 1992 clash with the legendary Mexican.
The Indiana native/Chicagoan said, “Firstly I had to put silver dollars in my pockets just to make the weight, I didn’t realize how big Chavez was until I got in there with him. I thought I could make him miss and I did in the early stages, but in reality, I couldn’t have beaten him if I had a machine gun, he was that good.”
“I fought him again years later in Mexico (July 10, 1999; see video below), and I got the fight on 10 days notice. I didn’t tell my trainer who phoned me going crazy about why I didn’t tell him about the fight. The real reason was I just didn’t want to go to the gym to train!”
In between those two Chavez fights Jakubowski (118-7 from 1987-2005) boxed all over North America with the occasional travels abroad. He also fought his own brother, and touched on their North Dakota clash on May 9, 1993.
The one time IBF USBA champion said, “We were in North Dakota and the night before the fight the guy I was supposed to be fighting didn’t turn up. So my brother, who had had a few drinks at this point, volunteered to fight me. Nobody in North Dakota knew we were brothers, so we fought each other and I stopped him to the body. Only us two, the trainer and the promoter knew we were brothers. That wasn’t the only time that happened either.
“I remember going to Germany on short notice. Sean Gibbons who was my manager for my whole career took the fight for me as I think he had a secret plan to go to a Green Day concert that was going on there at the time. (Editor Note: I messaged Gibbons to get his recollection of that memory. His response will be inserted when furnished. ) I lost in a WBO world title challenge (on Nov. 16, 1996, versus Artur Grigorian) but that was the show the Klitschko brothers made their debuts on, so that was special looking back.”
Jakubowski retired in 2005 after a comeback in his mid 30s. He was inducted into Hammond, Indiana Sports Hall of Fame and many would say he defined the term Club Fighter.