Former professional boxer Joe "The Boss" Hipp has always looked for ways to pass on his knowledge to younger generations. But during his fighting days – which included becoming the first Native American ever to win the World Boxing Foundation's world heavyweight title in 1999 – Joe Hipp was not able to add coaching as a full-time gig as well. Now retired at age 49, he is working on opening his own gym in Tacoma to be able to train fighters from 8 years old upward.
"I've always worked with kids. Wherever I fought I went to reservations and spoke to young kids at school. I know what it takes to become a coach and it takes so much of your time," Joe Hipp said. "I didn't have the time and commitment that I have now. I've always wanted to open up my own gym."
Joe Hipp said he has been working on acquiring and fixing up a gym for two years, and became really motivated when he finally acquired the building on East 72nd Street and East Portland Avenue in the Hillsdale neighborhood.
"I have the building, I have probably 80 percent of the boxing equipment," said Joe Hipp, adding that the equipment includes a ring and sparring bags. "I've talked to a lot of kids and there's a lot of interest with Native kids and non-Native kids."
The last challenges facing Joe Hipp include tracking down the last bit of money needed through donations and equipment, and gauging the total interest from the public to determine how to set up the gym and training programs. The ultimate goal, if the money and public interest are there, would be to open the gym within the next month. Along with long-time trainer Roland Jankelson, Joe Hipp intends to reach out to youth and professional boxers alike to come train with him.
"You meet these kids, and it is life-changing for them," Joe Hipp said. "I know if I didn't box I would have ended up in jail. I speak with a lot of gang members around here and they're looking for a way out. I'm not saying this is an answer (for everybody), but it is an answer for some of them."