MEET THE CAMPER: Fresno Teen Attending First Gleason’s Camp



MEET THE CAMPER: Fresno Teen Attending First Gleason’s Camp
JJ Doerksen is a California teenager who wants to pursue pugilism and win a world title. He takes a step in that direction at the Gleason's Fantasy Boxing Camp Aug. 11-14.

JJ Doerksen of Fresno, California has attended sleep away hockey camp the last three summers. But for this break from school, the 15 year old will be switching up the routine. In a couple weeks, him, his dad and his mom will be trekking to New York, where the teenager will take part in boxing camp.

Yeah, that exists.

Gleason's, the famed and fabled fight factory in Brooklyn, runs a Fantasy Boxing Camp in upstate NY, at a pretty posh resort. So, while the boy goes all in and gets a better sense of what it means to eat and sleep and live and breath boxing, dad Charles and his missus will hit the spa, and get some extended R n R. Sounds like all parties are being tended to…

“This is one hundred percent for JJ,” the senior Doerkson told me on the phone. “For me and my wife, we will hang out at the Four Seasons.”

Camp, the 14th annual session, runs Aug. 11-14, at Honor's Haven Resort and Spa in Ellenville, NY. (You can find more information and a brochure on the Gleason's website:

JJ has been doing boxing for a bit over a year, in Fresno, dad told me, and wanted to get in deeper. Charles researched and Googled and found the fantasy camp.

Pop used to watch Ali fights in the 70s with his dad, and then drifted away from following the sport as actively. Then the son got interested, started following the exploits of Pacman and Mayweather.

There was no real hesitance when the kid told mom and dad he wanted to try boxing as “he plays ice hockey, so he's no stranger to contact sports,” the father explained. “I'm not sure there's anything more physical than hockey.”

“I'm excited,” JJ told me after dad passed him the phone. He's been ramping up the road work, doing 3-5 miles in the AM, doing sprints, hitting the local gym to learn technique. “I'm eager to sharpen my skills at the Fantasy Camp, get sparring, all of it,” he said.

At school, he gets extra appreciation for being involved in the sweet science, standing out from the mass of teens who do team sports or who don't enter the arena. Dad tells me he's happy his son has taken to boxing, because he figures it's better than the methods most teens employ to chew up time. “He could be doing video games, hanging out at the mall, whatever,” he said. “I look at this as a good thing for him, physically, and in seeing the discipline it has instilled in him. The way he's eating, taking care of his body…”

I asked JJ, is he most interested in meeting ex champs and name trainers, as the camp is always featuring bold face names. “I'm happy with whoever is there,” the young man said. “I love boxing. I want to be a world champion, and after that, promote events.”

Yeah, that exists… Teen on a straight and solid path, pursuing a path of pugilism, learning about himself, taking prudent risks and building up a foundation of character. Boxing gets a rough rap, but these stories are everywhere, every day.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.