On November 27, 2021, Kerry James Jr. steps into the ring for his fifth professional boxing fight. James currently sits at 4-0 with 2 KOs. I stumbled across his Facebook by accident, but upon seeing it, I wanted to sit down and talk to him ahead of his big homecoming battle at the Municipal Auditorium.
When I stepped foot into the gym, it had that aura that was the type of place that champions come out of. You know, the type that it looks like people are using the equipment that have hopes and dreams of being someone someday.
In my first meeting with James, I knew something was different about him. We set up the meeting at noon, he was a few minutes late, and the first thing he said to me when he walked into the gym as he shook my hand was, “I’m sorry I’m late.” Coming from a faith-filled background, James is a humble man who is a proud father who lights up when he talks about his daughter.
After watching him train for a little over an hour, I came away even more impressed by not just what I saw but the support system around him. We have all witnessed the rise and fall of people because of those they surround themselves with. James has his crew as a family atmosphere. Everyone at the gym, from family to friends to promoters, everyone was family, and everyone had amazing things to say about James the fighter and James, the man.
I sat down with James after the training session to ask him a few questions.
Ricky Valero: When I go to your page, the first thing you notice is that it says, “God First,” where did that come from?
Kerry James Jr.: My Dad is a pastor. That is something that has been instilled in me since I was a kid. He was a pastor since I was ten but a preacher since I was 4. I’ve been playing drums in the church for 15-16 years. It’s always been something in my family. God comes first before anything.
RV: What made you want to get into boxing?
KJJ: I used to get bullied and it made me go to the gym. I have cousins and uncles and my granddad, who was boxers, but I didn’t know I would like it. I got into it, and it got serious, and it ended up happening the way it was supposed to. I ended up liking it, then loving it.
RV: What are your goals?
KJJ: My goal is to make sure my daughter never works for anyone. To take care of my family, take care of my close friends and loved ones, and most of all, give back to the community. My dad’s a giver, and my grandma’s a giver, so I’ve been seen them give since I was a kid, so that’s all I know is give. So whether it’s time or money, or just conversation, it’s giving back.
RV: How important is Nashville to you?
KJJ: Nashville is very important, and it is my home. I’ve always wanted this to be NashVegas, and it’s growing so fast; 10-11 years ago, it was nothing like it is today. So I am excited because the market is open for boxing. That’s why I don’t want to go anywhere, and I want to make Nashville big.
RV: How do you mentally prepare yourself before a fight?
KJJ: I always tell myself, if you train hard, work hard, you have nothing to worry about. Boxing is what I do, and this is what I’ve been doing. There are no nerves because this is what I do every day. I’m very, and I won’t say cocky, I’ll say confident because I train hard. I spend more time in the gym than I do with my family. This is my life, I eat and sleep this, boxing is my life. I’ve lost friends and relationships over boxing, so it’s very important to me. If I feel like nobody outside of the ring, I feel like somebody when I get in the ring. It doesn’t make me nervous. I prepare mentally for ‘it is what is’ and ‘it is going to be what it is going to be.’ I am accepting whatever God wants it to be.
RV: Where do you see Kerry James Jr. in five years?
KJJ: World Champ, bring more attention to Nashville. Hopefully, I own a few businesses, but definitely bring light to Nashville. I don’t want to leave, and I don’t want to Vegas, California, New York. I want to bring that all here to Nashville because soon that’s what it’s going to be anyway. Five years from now, I see myself being the face of Nashville and opening the doors for other people like myself in the position I am in right now.
If you live in Nashville, the fight is this Saturday at the Municipal Auditorium and you can get your tickets for the big fight here.