Someone You Should Know: The Trainer of Man and Beast
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – This week’s Someone You Should Know is a man who has mastered the boxing ring and the taming of dogs.
“I like training dogs; I’m a professional dog trainer. I like coaching people in boxing. One day it just dawned on me, I’m a trainer of man and beast,” said Jerry James, founder of Dakotah Canine Academy and Top Flight Boxing.
James says he gave himself the nickname “Trainer of Man and Beast.”
The latter of which he picked up while growing up in the Bronx.
“At about 12 years old, I would get up early in the morning and would go find stray dogs,” said James. “We couldn’t even have dogs back in the projects at that time. So, I would just put them in abandoned buildings.”
His love for animals came early, but his interest in boxing would come later while playing football for SDSU.
“So actually, I started late in life,” said James. “It was my senior year in college where I had my first fight in a boxing ring, and I won.”
James won the Dakota Golden Gloves in 1982 and 1983.
By 1988 he was the number one ranked amateur boxer in the US at 165 pounds.
“It happened because I studied videos of a lot of the top fighters you know Sugar Ray, Muhammad Ali, Hagler, and I just went out there and tried to duplicate it,” said James.
He went out for the 1988 Olympic team but retired after the selection the committee went in a different direction.
That’s when he came home and established Dakotah Canine Academy.
“No dog leaves here untrained,” said James. “So, if someone says ‘Hey my dog doesn’t listen.’ I just tell them to bring him in and I’ll re-work him.”
“Jerry is just one of the greatest guys. He does so much for the boxing community and the dog community,” said Tracy Thorstenson, Dakotah Canine Academy client.
In conjunction with training dogs, he founded Top Flight Boxing where he teaches boxers the art of the one-two punch.
“We have a deal here, ‘If you want to be a champion you have to train like a champion,'” said James.
“I’m happy because then I get to learn more and I get to box and it helps me stay healthy,” said Kaylin Cournoyer, Top Flight Boxing student.
“In all actuality, I learned the discipline from martial arts; I am a 4th-degree black belt. That’s where I got all the discipline from. So, that’s what I put into my training of dogs and boxers,” said James.
But James says it would be difficult to combine both dog and boxing training.
“With the boxing. No! Yeah, if you can dodge this dogs you can dodge a punch,” said James.
James is also a member of the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, he was inducted in 2017.