We had the good fortune of connecting with Charles Nwokolo aka Young Dick Tiger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Charles Nwokolo, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
From age 13, when I switched from soccer to boxing, I always knew that boxing would inform the rest of my life. When I married my late wife, Patricia, we made a plan: I would continue my pro boxing career until age 41 and she would study to become a doctor and we would raise our children together. After my pro career I planned to open a boxing gym. But everything fell apart when she died suddenly of a brain aneurysm in 1997 at age 30. I was left all alone with my 11 year old son, CJ, while my younger son, Emeka, was in Nigeria. I was so devastated for 2 years that I had to leave boxing and just care for my son, who helped me to survive. One night, my wife came to me in a dream and told me to go back to what I knew: boxing. So I started to train people at a friend’s gym. And then one day while walking near our apartment in Hollywood, a psychic came outside and told me the woman behind me wanted me to talk with her. There was no one. So I knew it was my wife guiding me. The psychic told me I would have a gym within 6 months. Sure enough this very space became available when my friend left and I bought the business from him with my last penny. I have owned Tiger Boxing Gym in this very space since 2006.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I am a people person , and my gym reflects that. I prefer 1on1 lessons because I love the personal connection and I like to encourage each person individually, according to their needs and fitness level. So I can work with a 5 year old and I can also work with a 75 year old Person with Parkinson’s . I love working with young people who have been bullied because within a lesson or two I can see their confidence growing in the way that they carry themselves. And of course I love working with my amateurs and professionals. I just returned from Mexico with my son Emeka, who won his 2nd pro fight with a TKO. My 2nd wife, Elizabeth , is instrumental in helping me manage the gym and my fighters. As a family, we love to be accessible to anyone who has a passion for boxing.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When friends come to visit we definitely like to be active: I take them on a hike up to the Hollywood sign, we would do the Santa Monica stairs before going to enjoy the beach and walk around Venice beach. We would eat some Korean BBQ, go to a favorite hole in the wall Thai place on Santa Monica @Normandie called Spicy BBQ specializing in Northern Thai food. For a special meal we would cross the street from my gym to the amazing Italian restaurant called Spartina! And of course we would go to the Hollywood Bowl to hear a concert when my wife is playing because she is a musician.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give recognition to a few former coaches, because they made me who I am today. My first coach is a lovely man named Dirisu. He coaxed me to leave soccer telling me that boxing would take me all over the world. In fact it is true. I have travelled and competed all over the world from East Germany to Thailand to Russia to a gold medal/best boxer in the 1983 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Dirisu gave me so much love and encouragement, he picked me up when I needed it. He gave me the seeds of belief that I needed to achieve my lofty goals. When I made the national team, I worked with Coach Ekhorowa. He was a wonderful technician who taught me everything I needed to go into international competition. His discipline still informs my life to this day. And lastly, my beloved American coach: Bill Slayton. Bill taught me how to be a pro; he encouraged and refined my attacking style. And he loved me like a son, which I needed, being so far from home. I am still in touch with my coaches regularly, although Bill has passed and my conversations with him are internal.
Facebook: Young Dick Tiger
Yelp: Tiger Boxing Gym
Other: Personal Instagram: @charles_tiger_nwokolo Son Emeka: @emeka7o7 2 min doc of my life: https://vimeo.com/57346685 Buzzfeed video at our gym: https://youtu.be/njrk7YJsY_k One of my pro fight KO: https://youtu.be/KPskv6aAj2c My debut music video with my wife: https://youtu.be/ZZWSh1VZXpo
My wife @lady_e_self_taught took all of these pics except for the group pic, which was taken on her phone by a stranger.