Denver boxer is what’s good about sport |

Denver boxer is what’s good about sport

Steve Yingling, Tribune Sports Editor

Boxing can have Don King’s electrically trained hair, the macho weigh-in shoving by junior middleweight champion Fernando Vargas and Jorge Paez’s strange wedding dress get-ups.

What the sport is really about is men like John Kiser, a 32-year-old heavyweight from Denver.

The father of three girls works as a foreman for a roofing contractor when he’s not in the ring.

“Some days are so hard I debate whether I go to the gym or do I go home. In the past I’d go home, but now I’ve been going to the gym,” said Kiser, whose girls range from 5 to 12 years old.

Kiser’s story is even more remarkable when you consider that he didn’t begin box until seven years ago.

“I was watching on TV one day and this guy had a worse record than mine, and he was fighting for $10,000. So I’d say the money made me start,” said Kiser, who improved to 15-20-4 with an eight-round decision over Stan Hampton on the undercard of the Vargas-Raul Marquez title bout Saturday night at Caesars Tahoe.

What keeps Kiser going in the brutal profession is the flickering dream of all mediocre fighters – a title fight and the big paydays that comes with fame.

“I dream of having a belt, and everybody dreams of making it to the big time. I had a few fights that could have put me in that spot, but the lack of training knocked me out of it,” said Kiser, who received $2,750 for his eight rounds of work Saturday.

His trainer Jim Smith, who punches the clock with the teamsters, believes Kiser and other Colorado fighters face a disadvantage that other pro boxers don’t.

“You take a look at all of the fighters in Colorado and you see a lot of them don’t have that great of a record. It’s because we don’t have a boxing commission and we fight on the road a lot. When you turn around and fight on the road and it’s a close fight, what happens? You don’t get the close decisions,” Smith said.

Smith believes his fighter should have about eight more wins under his belt, but as long as he continues to fight in enemy camps, he better eliminate the “hometown” decisions with knockouts.

If Evander Holyfield and Kiser ever get into the ring together, both fighters may have trouble raising their fists. They look so much like each other that Kiser is mistaken for the “Real Deal” all the time.

“I hear it all the time … about 500 times,” Kiser said. “But I’ve never met him.”

Holyfield, though, is only one of thousands of fighters Kiser looks up to.

“To me every fighter is an inspiration. You know, they put the gloves on, and that’s a business out there. I look up to Holyfield and all the big-time fighters for what they’ve done.”

Kiser, all of 190 pounds, recently moved up to the heavyweight division to make one last push for fame. He’s giving himself two years to cash in.

“Since I moved up to heavyweight I had to get used to the guys’ weight and carrying myself back at 200 pounds. It’s been hard,” said Kiser, whose biggest payday is $18,000 and his most significant win is a victory over “Action” Jackson.

“(Saturday night) was a start.”

Here’s one writer hoping that one of the good things about boxing realizes his dream.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Mt. Rose names Gavrilets new general manager

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe announced that Greg Gavrilets has been hired as its General Manager, replacing long-time ski area leader Paul Senft, who retired after a 42-year career with the resort.

See more