Prison and boxing go together like Harley Davidson’s and bikers. Sometimes professional fighters go to prison a la Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Mike Tyson. It’s not that much of a surprise to see men who participate in a violent sport going to prison. Not to say they all do. Boxing used to be real big in prison. Prisons all over the country had boxing programs. We’ve seen the movies like Undisputed and prisoners have used boxing to focus their violent tendencies and get some focus, clarity and discipline in their lives. But people come to the sport for all different reasons. Inside the belly of the beast there are a million and one stories but here at Gorilla Convict we bring you only the most interesting. We’d like to introduce you to Jason Peterson, federal prison #93337-111 of Frisco Boxing. Jason is also a motorcycle club enthusiast. He got into the fight game shortly before he got locked up. His goal was just to get one pro fight under his belt but instead he started a movement. Let him tell it though.
Gorilla Convict- When did you start boxing and why?
Jason Peterson- I started boxing in the later part of 2002. I actually got into it to help rehab my shoulder from a gun shot wound. My friend and boxing coach Arturo Gastelum saw me at the gym lifting 5 lb dumbbells after being in a sling for six months. He told me he’d get my arm back in shape in no time with the focus mits. Three months later I had my first amateur fight and my left jab was my best punch.
GC- You got shot where and when?
JP- I got shot in the back arm with a .44. It went in broke my arm in half and the bullet came out my chest just above the heart. I slipped to the right when I should have slipped to the left in the middle of a shootout at a casino in Laughlin, Nevada. (The infamous Hell’s Angels/Mongols shootout at the Harrah’s casino and hotel, a violent confrontation between the Mongols and Hell’s Angels where three bikers were killed).
GC- You’re also in the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club?
JP- Yeah, I’m a Hell’s Angel.
GC- Can you tell us a little about the club?
JP- Yeah, I’m a Hell’s Angel.
GC- Give the history of your boxing club Frisco Boxing?
JP- It started in the back of World’s Gym on 16th Street. Arturo was coaching there. I started training with him and after a month and a half my left arm went from not being able to lift 5 lbs over my head to a jab that was on fire. Art came up with the idea to fight an event as he watched me progress but we didn’t want to fight on someone else’s promotion so we started our own, Frisco Boxing.
GC- Can you tell us a little about the lead up to the first event?
JP- It was a train wreck. We were looking for opponents to fight so we were sparring with other clubs. I got in the ring and banged two rounds with Alex Agular. Two rounds and I was fucking done. Art said that’s who you are fighting, I said you’re fucking kidding me right? He said if shit was easy everyone would be doing it. I trained hard as hell for three more weeks. We put together about 12 fights for that card and I was the headliner. I surprised Alex that night. The last round my coach compared to the first Rocky movie where they were banging away until they just had nothing left, that’s how that fight was, from the first bell to the last. Alex got the nod, but Frisco boxing and me personally got a lot of respect for how we performed. That’s when I became the Frisco Boxing mascot. Our willingness to slug it out woke up an old fight town that hadn’t seen much in years. We got 800 people to show up for the show on a Tuesday night. It was crazy.
GC- Give us a little on Boxing in Frisco?
JP- Frisco has a huge boxing history that goes as far back as the gold strike in 1849. In the late 19th century San Francisco was the mecca for boxing. The Olympic club created a boxing school there in the 1880s and local champs like Gentleman Jim Corbett and Abe Attell went on to dominate the sport. In 1944 the first and only circular ring was built in the San Francisco shipyard by middleweight champ Fred Apostoli, who fought in the ring 25 times. In 1949 the Cow Palace started holding fights. Some of their fights there were the biggest of all time. Sugar Ray Robinson fought Bobo Olson in 1952 and Rocky Marciano fought at Kezar stadium in 1955. Newman’s Gym, a boxing stronghold in San Francisco has been around 60 years. The 1970 and 80s brought Paul Nare, Pat Lawlor, Andy Nance, Paris Alexander and Dan McGuire. So the city has always been a boxing hotbed for generations.
GC- What is up with the documentary that features you and how did that come about?
JP- The documentary is about boxing in the Bay area. It gives a little history from back in the day. It also focuses on me and my story. Like what it takes to turn pro. The training, the fights and how it came about. At the time I was fighting two fed cases, luckily one got dismissed so I was able to get out on bond while I was fighting the other case. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be so lucky on the second case so I sat down with my Coach Art and I told him I wanted to fight one pro fight before I went away. That’s what the doc is about.
GC- What was it like leading up to your pro debut?
JP- My coach called in Hector Martinez, a buddy of his who was in Roberto Duran’s camp back in the day. Both of them guys spent everyday and night getting me ready for my first pro fight. My coach called Craig Goosen of Goosen Tutor and Craig gave me a chance to fight on his card at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. I sold 600 tickets out of my own hand and brought the Bay to San Jose. I dedicated the fight to one of my little brothers that had recently been killed and that night Lil’ Will had to be in the ring with me because we wasted no time and the referee stopped the fight in the second round. I won by TKO. http://www.youtube.com/user/pmb2007#p/f/7/ryl4wQM_Fm0
GC- Now you said you wanted one pro fight but you also fought at the Playboy Mansion?
JP- Yeah, my friend Kevin Beech called me and told me if I wanted to fight at the Playboy mansion he and my friend Chuck Liddell would sponsor me for the fight so I told him fuck yeah.
JP- The fighters were shuttled up the back and escorted into our own tents in the back part of the property. I was warming up and getting my hands taped when I was hit with a surprise. My coach turned me around and told me I was going to be on ESPN. That shit was crazy but my coach and everyone back in San Francisco already knew they were keeping it a secret from me. I had brothers in club houses in front of TV’s and I brought about 50 people with me that were all out by the grotto drinking with celebrities. Imagine having your second pro fight on ESPN at the playboy Mansion. Chuck Liddell walked me to the ring and when they said my name the whole crowd went nuts. The bell rung and I hit this dude with so many jabs that when I came in between rounds the only instruction Hector gave me was do it again. I kept jabbing. Punch stats showed that I threw 508 punches in a 4 round fight. Had I continued in a 10 rounder that would have been a record pace. After the fight Hugh Hefner wanted to meet me. We took a picture and he signed my gloves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlKTAdUSKB4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nbkvIdgZXQ
GC- How did you meet Chuck Liddell and what were your experiences with him?
JP- I originally met Check through a mutual friend who is also a trainer in Las Vegas named One Kick Nick. I was spending a lot of time out that way and we had a lot of the same friends. We spent many weekends tearing up Vegas. He’s a real good dude. He’d come and support Frisco Boxing, which was cool for the youngsters to meet him. Kevin Beech along with Chuck got me my second pro fight which I’ll always be grateful for.
GC- Who were your role models in the boxing world?
JP- Tommy Morrison, which is pretty trippy because it just so happened he was the guest of honor at my pro debut and actually presented me with my trophy for the best fight of the night. Two other guys that I am proud to have rubbed shoulders with are Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Andre Ward. Robert is good friends with my coach. You are going to see some good stuff from him. Andre is a good dude from Oakland who I believe is putting to shame anyone that’s ever questioned his skill. He is the man in the super middleweight division. I had the honor of getting some boxing lessons from him out at King’s Gym in Oakland, right before the Playboy Mansion fight. I’d say the confidence I walked into the ring with that night I owe to Andre.
GC- Now your last two fights didn’t go like your first to can you tell us about it?
JP- At this point we had two wins but the court dates were coming up and time was getting short. We were still working. Originally I had just wanted to fight one pro fight to say I did it but he we were 2-0 and in the best shape ever.
But court wasn’t going good. They wanted to give me 10 years or I could go to trial and face 25. We were getting offers to fight on more cards. We decided to take them. But two weeks before my next fight a good brother of mine was killed. We sat down and discussed pulling out but my brother that died would have wanted me to fight. Come fight night we put a Rest in Peace Papa message on the big screen for my fallen brother above the ring but when the bell rang my head wasn’t there. I was like why am I here? I couldn’t put nothing together. It wasn’t going good so my coach told me to go all out. I threw punches till I had nothing left but by the end of my flurry I was against the ropes getting the return and the referee stopped the fight. TKO, I lost. Court was reaching an end and we were offered another fight and I took it. My lawyer got me an extra month of freedom to fight. That night everything went great. I was winning the first three rounds when I got caught with a wild swing. I was in a daze and the referee called the fight. It was a fucked up stoppage but that’s the fight game. The next few weeks we wrapped up the documentary filming and I got ready to go on vacation.
GC- What was the ultimate goal with the Frisco Boxing and the documentary?
JP- The main goal is to keep boxing alive in the Bay area. We created a buzz that was dead for a while. If what we did helps one kid chase his dreams then I did something I am proud of. The documentary is our way of giving the sport its respect and for me personally its something I gave my all to that no one can take from me. It makes me feel like I have done something good after making some mistakes in my life.
GC- Have you seen any results from this so far since you’ve been gone?
JP- I got a letter from a kid, Talon Vaughn. We write all the time now. He told me I inspired him cuz he knew what it took to be a fighter. End result, he trained and fought at an event. He won the fight and at the end he grabbed the microphone from the announcer and said “I love you JP.” Obviously, I didn’t see it but somebody recorded it for me and played it to me over the phone. So it felt good. And now the kid is wanting to turn pro and he wants to fight the same night I come home, where I plan to come back and fight one more time just to let the people know I am home.
GC- That’s how this whole thing started right? With one pro fight?
JP- Yeah, that’s how it started.
GC- So now you want one more again? How old will you be? 40 or 41? Can you do it?
JP- Have you seen Bernard Hopkins?
GC- What are you doing to stay in shape now?
GC- What are your plans when you get out?
JP- I’ve taken all my NFPT courses so I’m now a licensed personal master trainer. That’s probably the best thing I’ve gotten out of being down. I’ve always got his itch to be in a ring or be around one. When I come home I want to get one more fight in, just to let people know I am home and then I’d love to open a gym and have it become the home of Frisco Boxing so I could teach the sport.
GC- It seems there was a lot accomplished in a short amount of time, what do you think drove you the most?
JP- When a judge tells you that you’re facing 25 years for a case and then another judge tells you that you’re facing another 25 years for a second case, one or two things can happen to a man, either you drop to your knees and go out sideways or you hold your nuts, grind your teeth and ride. I’m the teeth grinding, nut holding, riding type. But I was lucky enough to get out on that bond and do my thing. When I got back I felt I had let my family and friends down and I wanted to change that. I wanted to do something good for them to remember me for during my time away. So I put it all on the table and went for and we did it.
GC- When did it all hit you that you had to leave it all behind?
JP- I don’t think it really hit me until I kissed my girl goodbye at the prison in Texas, five minutes later I was butt naked, getting pictures of my tattoos and being asked stupid questions by the prison guards about my so called gang affiliation.
GC- Who’s your role model in your club?
JP- Ha, ha, there you go again. I’d have to say Cysco from Oakland. I’m his biggest fan.
GC- Is there any websites you want to mention to our readers to check out?
JP- Yeah, go check out www.415clothing.com.