Twenty-two-year-old Justin Bolton of Rossville is currently pursuing his passion for boxing by competing in tournaments over the next couple of months in order to possibly earn an invite to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Bolton, a Ridgeland High School graduate, has been boxing for the past three years to the tune of a 22-7 amateur win-loss record.

On Saturday, Oct. 5, he began competing in a five-day tournament in Ohio to hopefully move on to another qualifying tournament next month.

“It’s a five-day tournament, so you fight one time every day until you lose, and then if you win this tournament, then you advance to another tournament next month” Bolton explained. “The next tournament after this one is in Nevada I think.”

Originally from Pittsburgh, Penn., Bolton’s family moved to Rossville when he was a toddler. As a Ridgeland Panther, Bolton played soccer, basketball, and football before dedicating his time to boxing at age 19.

In preparation for the tournament, Bolton says he trains daily and spars as often as possible. He also does so while working a full-time third shift job in Rock Spring and navigating fatherhood after welcoming a daughter into the world earlier this year.

“The toughest part is making enough time for everything,” Bolton said. “I always have to make sacrifices to be able to do the things I want and need to do.”

As for the tournament, Bolton says he and his team are looking forward to the opportunity.

“I’m excited, but I just try to stay level-headed,” he said. “I don’t want to get too high or too low – I try to keep my mindset right in the middle.”

While most consider boxing to be solo competition that’s very different from popular team sports, Bolton says it’s more of a group effort than people might realize.

“Boxing is still a team sport,” Bolton said. “You don’t go to the ring alone and fight; you always have your coaches and/or trainer in your corner. With that being said, you’re ultimately the only one in the ring, so the outcome and your future really come down to you.”

With the Ohio tournament slated to begin Saturday, Oct. 5, Bolton says he has a busy week ahead of him, but insists he’s up to the challenge.

“The better I do, the more fights I’ll have, so it could be a lot,” Bolton said.

Though he’s put a lot of hard work into his amateur career thus far, Bolton said he eventually wants to turn professional. As far as the big picture goes, Bolton added that he’s excited about the opportunity to earn a shot at the Olympics.

“The Olympics in Japan; that's the ultimate goal," Bolton said. "And that’s what I love most about boxing – as a fighter, you have control over your own future.”

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.

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