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Local Boxer Joe Amouta - a Force for Good

Article by Claudia Kittock


Join Professional Boxer Joe Amouta in Gold Medal Park for a free boxing based fitness class, sponsored by Friends of the Mill District:

Boxing instruction + Whole Body Workout + Light Cardio
Cost: Free
For: All ages, fitness & skill levels
Meet at Gold Medal Park on 2nd Street S.


How many of you grew up watching the Cavalcade of Sports on Friday nights? I did. I have 3 sisters, so watching something like this with my Dad was a great treat because my sisters thought it was terrible. I have to admit I didn’t get it, nor even like it very much, but it was time alone with my Dad and I treasured it. As I grew up I came to understand the discipline, the strategy, the problem solving, and incredible physical skill it takes to be a boxer.

Joe (right) in a training session. Photo credit Pioneer Press, John Autey

Joe Amouta is the man I just described. He is ranked #1 in his weight class in Minnesota and #43 in the country. His journey to Minneapolis and to this point in his career is far from typical and is a story worth telling.

I met Joe through Dave Tinjum, who trains with him. Dave told Joe about the Friends of the Mill District and the programs we are sponsoring with teenagers from the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and YouthLink. Joe asked if he could help, particularly if he could teach these young people to box. We were thrilled and began a fascinating conversation.

Joe was born in American Samoa, and lived there until he emigrated to California at the age of 13. He arrived here with no English skills and was promptly enrolled in school. Imagine being placed in a junior high school thousands of miles from your home and you can’t speak the language. Joe learned English with no formal instruction, just picking it up from everything around him. He became the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

After high school, Joe wanted to get away from home, so he just left. He found himself in Albuquerque, then on to Texas, and eventually ended up in Minneapolis because he had coffee with an intriguing young woman, who would become his wife. A job followed, but two car accidents slowed his ability to save money. He took a job at the Northside Boxing Club in North Minneapolis where he quickly became a lead coach while continuing to hone his boxing skills.

Joe began studying boxing in California and went to the nationals in 2009 as the Champion from California.  He turned pro in 2010 and joined Manny Pacquiao’s camp shortly after.

Today, Joe is a self-employed boxing instructor and teaches students privately and in classes in St. Louis Park and the Seward neighborhood. His generosity and joy are apparent in the work that he does and the ways he wants to help those whose lives can only get better through the discipline of boxing.

On June 27th Joe will instruct a free 9 a.m. boxing class in Gold Medal Park, sponsored by the Friends of the Mill District. Participants should wear comfortable workout clothes and bring water. That’s it. Show up! When I asked Joe what happens after this, he said, “ be continued.”

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).


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