About 14 months after One in a Million Boxing CEO Octavius James died in his sleep on July 24, 2009, the boxing company he brought to Northwest Indiana is also dead.
When the Gary native and Lew Wallace graduate died, he left behind a stable full of region fighters with promising futures — Mary McGee of Gary, Jermaine White of Merrillville, Jimmy Holmes of DeMotte, Michael Walker of Chicago and Hobart’s Edward Ochoa — as well as a boxing promotion entity that had risen from the ground up.
I still remember his first boxing event in 2002 at a VFW hall in Hobart. His organization’s third event was held at the the former Omega Sports Complex on 61st Avenue in Hobart.
“Yeah, I remember … right there off I-65,” said Artez Aytch, who was James’ right-hand man since they co-owned a clothing store in Merrillville before promoting One in a Million cards in the region. “We were buddies — you know what they say: Birds of a feather flock together.”
They graduated from Wallace together. Aytch followed James into the boxing business. Now he’s taking it upon himself to save One in a Million after Tyree Ortiz, who succeeded James as the CEO, closed down the Northwest Indiana One in a Million operation and went back home to California.
“He just kind of packed up and left town, not giving too many people too much notice,” Aytch said. “I was one of the original founders. Tyree came on along later, helping us design the website, and eventually became our on-site coordinator for fight cards. Octavius’ mother and friends talked, and they decided on Tyree becoming CEO.”
Ortiz couldn’t be reached for comment, but there is a small sign on the former One in a Million gym at 8789 Louisiana Street in Merrillville that says the facility is closed.
The last One in a Million card was in May at the Hammond Civic Center with Ortiz as one of the headliners in a heavyweight division bout.
His exodus from the region leaves several young fighters without a promoter to keep them entering the ring and competing in the sport they love.
“Tyree is just going back home,” Aytch said. “Tyree is from Big Bear (Calif.) and his father has a gym there.”
Talking to Aytch, he sounds you’re talking to James, without the boisterous saleman’s voice and contagious laugh. But Aytch does have the same eternal optimism as his friend.
“Octavius was good with creating the dream everyone wanted,” said Aytch, who is used to not backing down from a challenge as a Gary firefighter for 13 years. “He made boxing bigger than life here in Northwest Indiana. He always knew what to say and what people wanted to hear.”
One of James’ dreams was to set up a foundation for kids to learn the sport of boxing. It was announced at One in a Million’s event last November at the Radisson Hotel in Merrillville as part of a tribute to James.
So how has the Octavius James Foundation come along?
“Tyree was supposed to do that, but he just left town and no one knows what happened to it,” Aytch said. “He had no interest in doing right for boxing in Northwest Indiana. He had our own fighters fighting each other. It wasn’t right.”
Aytch has kept in touch with former One in a Million boxers McGee, Holmes and LaPorte’s Josh Crouch, and local boxing legend Jack Callahan, who used to work for One in a Million when James was still alive, as he works toward starting up a new NWI boxing promotion company.
The process could begin tonight during an amateur boxing card hosted by the Hammond Boxing Club at the Hammond Civic Center.
“I’ll be there to support them and I may get in the ring to say something about keeping pro boxing alive in NWI,” Aytch said. “I still have a valid promoters license in my name.”
Some logistical problems with Aytch carrying on his friend’s dream include the name — One in a Million Boxing or One in a Million Inc. can’t be used legally — and finding a new home for a gymnasium.
He hopes Gary Mayor Rudy Clay can be part of that second issue.
“Rudy Clay mentioned a while back something about donating a building for a gymnasium,” Aytch said. “I have to follow up with him — you know how some policticians will say anything — but I’m going to try to hold him to that promise.”
It makes sense. There are some long-running boxing clubs in Gary that could benefit from such a facility. And Gary’s financial problems and failing infrastructure have been well-publicized. Why not take one of those abandoned buildings on Broadway, put some people to work by cleaning it up, and create a boxing gym?
Make Gary the center of region boxing since that’s where James and Aytch began their friendship.
“I’d like to be the ambassador for boxing in Northwest Indiana and keep everyone together,” Aytch said.
Sounds like he’d do a much better job than Ortiz. Then again, Aytch is a region guy and Ortiz was always thinking about California.
Каких "Родителям о детях/Детское питание. От рождения до года"только совпадений не бывает.
Приняв лекарства, он снова "После…"вернулся в комнату, в которой "Грамматика в картинках для занятий с детьми 3-7 лет. Словообразование"сидел с Норой.
Серебряные струны "Каким все является"солнечных лучей оставили след далеко "Тверь. Тверская область"справа на вершине столовой горы, ее подножие "Скрапбукинг. Искусство оформления фотографий и фотоальбомов"серело в надвигающихся сумерках.
Они обменялись "Опасные связи"несколькими словами.
Повар Павличек, попробовав вместе с "Стильные изделия из кожи"Балоуном мясо, сломал себе передний зуб, а Балоун задний коренной.