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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 27 2010

Barbot revives career by opening boxing gym

Jim Grimestad always had the mojo to start a local Golden Gloves boxing club, but finding the right coach was a never-ending chore. There were good coaches, but they also had criminal backgrounds.

There were good guys, but perhaps not good coaches. There were great boxers, but perhaps not good teachers.

Then Jesse Barbot walked through the door.

The fact he was able to walk anywhere was a blessing. Last October, in what would turn out to be his last fight as a professional, Barbot was knocked out with 12 seconds remaining and the ensuing days were traumatic.

He suffered a subdural hematoma, or bleeding of the brain, and was rushed from the fight site in Mahnomen, Minn., to a Fargo hospital for emergency surgery.

“The doctor at first said he had done this same procedure to a 15-year-old the week prior and that this 15-year-old didn’t remember his own mother after surgery,” said Jenny Barbot, Jesse’s wife. “We were a little concerned as you can imagine.”

Now, this fall, the plan is to resume boxing in Fargo-Moorhead at Grimestad’s Red River Tae Kwon Do facility in south Fargo. Barbot couldn’t be happier.

A product of Eddie Obregon’s Forks Fighters gym in Grand Forks, Barbot’s professional boxing career lasted five years. He was 6-5, but he was a more impressive 8-0 in his mixed martial arts fights.

Grimestad said the boxing venue will give MMA fighters a chance to hone their boxing skills. It will be open to all ages, and Barbot said he plans on trying to tap into the F-M college market.

“There are just so many people who walk in the door and ask, ‘Where’s the boxing gym in town?’” Grimestad said.

It gives Fargo a passport to the national Golden Gloves and Silver Gloves programs. It also gives Barbot a chance to get back in the sport.

“I guess coaching ended up coming quicker than I thought,” he said. “But that’s fine. I’m 33 years old and getting a little long on the tooth anyways in the boxing world.”

He doesn’t remember much about the night his boxing world crashed. He remembers leaving the ring at the Shooting Star Casino on a stretcher. Later, doctors inserted three screws and three plates in his skull.

His injury – a boxing commissioner late told him he was winning on the scorecards – was a fluke, Barbot said, and boxers rarely get severely hurt. Amateur boxers are required to wear head gear whereas professionals do not.

Barbot went through four months of rehabilitation and is almost 100 percent recovered.

“He’s always had that passion for boxing,” Jenny Barbot said. “Now that he can’t compete himself, I think him through his students is what makes him a good coach.”

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the WDAY Golf Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia