Texas twins Josh (L) and Jordan (R) Jenkins are on a mission to become the first twins ever to be on a Team USA Olympic Boxing Team.
They will both be competing in the elite division at the 2020 USA Boxing National Championships, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic from last December to March 25 - April 3, in Shreveport, Louisiana.
The Jenkins twins have overcome numerous obstacles in Dallas, primarily their father’s long incarceration, subsequently getting into trouble and constantly fighting others in school. And that doesn’t even include COVID-19 restrictions that limited gym time and eliminated tournament competition this past year.
They were fortunate to have their grandfather, the late Guilford Childress, who was the most significant male influence in their lives. “We played all sports but were getting into trouble fighting in school,” older brother by 1 minute Josh said. “Our grandfather took us to the gym, but our mother didn’t want us to box. He and my godfather, Darryl Thomas, who was also a father figure for us, trained us. Our grandfather used to come to school when we got in trouble. He was our disciplinarian. He’d take us right out of training at the gym or stop us from sparring for two weeks. He didn’t just want us to be champion boxers, he wanted us to become mature men.
“Two years ago, Greg Hatley became our trainer. Everything changed for us when we started being trained by Coach Hatley. Our styles completely changed, and we started settling down in the ring, and picking spots. Coach Hatley has had a big impact on our lives. He’s taught us how to be men. He’s a roofer and he taught us how to roof, change oil and tires, and save our money for later.”
The twins work for Amazon in a warehouse. Jordan is a brawling lightweight, while welterweight Josh is more of a boxer. Have they ever switched places and fought under the other’s name? “Everybody asks us that,” laughed Jordan. “No, Josh is bigger than me.”
They’ve been competing in the elite division for the past couple of years, and both have reached the semifinals of major tournaments, but they’re ready to break out at the upcoming National Championships.
The Jenkins twins have had their training impacted. like most other amateur boxers, but not terribly, yet different from what they were used to. At first there were limitations at their gym, but once restrictions opened-up, they were able to train more often, spread out more than normal at the gym while working out, and COVID-19 tested monthly.
The dream for “Twin Nation”, coined by their grandfather when Josh and Jordan were in the seventh grade, is becoming the first twins on a Team USA Boxing Olympic Team, something late grandfather first mentioned to them. “We want to be the first twins on the US Olympic Boxing Team so kids can look up to us,” Jordan noted. “We want to prove that kids labeled as bad can still be successful growing up in an environment like ours. A lot of friends we grew up with are dead or in jail. We’ve worked had to change our lives and we’re looking ahead to Paris (site of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games).”
Their remarkable journey reaches a new level at the Nationals. They aren’t in a rush to go pro, either. Oh, they both intend to be professional boxers, but only when they’re ready as a tandem.
“We’re humble,” Josh concluded. “We’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises. We could have gone left or right. A lot of our friends went one way, but we went the other way, and became boxers.”