When most people think about boxing—to varying degrees, some become
happy or even flighty, while others cringe at the thought. In other
words, usually, folks either like it (boxing) a great deal,
or just as much, they hate it. During the 1960s, a celebrated
intellectual of the period insisted, "Boxing is the focal point
of masculinity in America ". Yet, today, it seems that
such an adage could be applied to most countries—and not just men
After all, boxing has true international appeal, from acclaimed
statesmen like Nelson Mandela to locals like Joe Six-pack. However,
the "sweet science of bruising," as its original British
creators called it, is actually much more than a legalized way to
vent human violence. To be sure, there are those who deny their
potentiality for violence. Yet, no one could even call himself or
herself a "pacifist," without relying upon the protection of
violence afforded to him or her by our police and military.
Moreover, the practice of this manly and womanly art/sport is an
incredible method for self-discovery.
In fact, boxing allows participants to experience a level of
self-discovery that few other activities permit. As a matter of
fact, along with the persistence of the student and by combining
both the patience and creativity of the instructor, anyone who is a
conscious being can be exposed to abilities in himself or herself
of which he or she may otherwise be unaware.
Additionally, at least—to me, a truly safe learning environment
only exists when a student knows that he or she can ask
questions—with his or her inquiry being taken seriously. In other
words, he or she feels "safe" to take chances. Moreover, I
strongly believe in what my brother Eshu Bumpus, also an educator,
often says, "The range of a student's ability is seldom as wide
as the range of encouragement that he or she receives."
I teach boxing in the context of a curriculum, replete with a
syllabus. Therefore, students learn sequentially. For example, one
cannot possibly know that 2 x 2 = 4, unless he or she first knows
that 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4. Likewise, beginning with a balance
exercise and the proper method for throwing punches, I walk the
student through the art of boxing in a way that will stay with the
student for the rest of his or her life.
Ultimately, whether it be physically, intellectually, emotionally,
or socially, we are all "challenged," in one way or another.
Therefore, we all need some amount of cultivation. That is, no one
is born to be a scholar, artist, or athlete. (Thus, far the
highest expressions of individual achievement of which we
know.) Rather, we become who we are through our contacts with
other people and the activities in which we become involved
(whether they are wanted or imposed). At the Pioneer Valley
Boxing School, we address this issue like no one else.
I hope to hear from you.
Coach G. Djata Bumpus
"Coach Bumpus (right) with his
lifelong friend and former sparring mate, Reverend Marvis Frazier.
Besides being an ordained minister, Frazier is a former US amateur
champion and former #1 heavyweight contender, as a
Instructor G. Djata Bumpus, the
founder of "Academic Boxing", is an educator who has taught on all
academic levels while being a 45-year veteran of hundreds of street
fights, which includes him at one time having been a legendary
bouncer in Philadelphia and has, for over three decades, been a
veteran of dozens of contests in the fighting arts—specifically
As an amateur boxer (under his
fighting name-Djata Banks), Djata Bumpus was trained by a highly
distinguished boxing coach, the late Val Boston, here in New
England. As a professional fighter, he (Bumpus a.k.a. Banks) was
managed by former heavyweight champion Smokin' Joe Frazier (and
even personally trained by the famous fighter—occasionally) while
being trained on a regular basis by George Benton and his
co-trainer, Val Colbert. (These two men have also trained the likes
of Pernell Whittaker, Evander Holyfield, Marvis Frazier, Leon and
Michael Spinks, Jimmy Young, Bennie Briscoe, Sugar Ray Leonard,
Willie "The Worm" Monroe, Pinklon Thomas, Rocky Lockridge, Johnny
Bumphus, Meldrick Taylor, Smokin' Bert Cooper, and Oliver McCall—to
name a few.)
Finally, Coach Bumpus is a
licensed coach with USA Boxing, Inc., the official United States of
America regulatory body of Olympic-style amateur boxing and is
certified in both First Aid and CPR. Also, Bumpus has trained
people with varying levels of ability over the years—from those
with cerebral palsy to many karate Black Belts, as well
as a number of amateur and professional boxers.
From the Front Page of the Sports Section
Daily Hampshire Gazette on
heavyweight boxer, teaches his craft in Northampton
link: USA Boxing
Michael Tillyer and his son, Paul, 12, spar Tuesday as boxing coach
Djata Bumpus looks on during a boxing class at Pioneer Valley
Boxing School in Northampton.
By AMY JO
GRIESERT, Staff Writer, Monday, May 19, 2003,
NORTHAMPTON—It was with his gloves on that G. Djata Bumpus made a
name for himself in the boxing world. But the gloves are off now as
his true legacy has taken shape - as a teacher. Over the last 15
years, 1,200 students in the Pioneer Valley have learned the sweet
science from the 49-year-old retired professional
Bumpus' passion has evolved from
teaching a class sponsored by Amherst Leisure Services in the early
1990s to a full-time business called the Pioneer Valley Boxing
School located at 518 Pleasant Street in Northampton.
"This is the best spot I've ever
had," said Bumpus of the Northampton location he opened in
November. "I've eaten lint out of my pockets for many years, but
I'm finally in a situation where things are really going well and I
have a great spot and I have good community support and it's
Before relocating his school to
Northampton, Bumpus owned the Boxing Salon in Springfield from 1996
to 2002. At either gym, most who venture into Bumpus' school
haven't looked to be the next Evander Holyfield or Laila Ali.
"Ninety-eight percent of the people that I've taught are doing it
for personal development," said Bumpus, who lives with his brother
Eshu in Holyoke. "They're not doing it to enter the ring to
compete. They're doing it for themselves. There are a lot of powers
inside of us that we don't recognize and what I do more than
anything else ... is help people recognize those powers
For Michael Tillyer and his
12-year-old son Paul, taking lessons together from Bumpus has
helped them grow closer. "It's been awesome," Michael Tillyer said.
"It's such a new discovery of our relationship in a way that is
very intimate but structured."
That structure is something
Bumpus identified from the first day he met an actual fight
trainer. "When I was 15 years old and first started getting into
it, I said 'One day when my career is over, I want to be a coach
and I'm going to teach people,'" Bumpus said. "... I'm going to
teach people to learn this sequentially, like you take
After fighting as a pro for 21/2
years in the late 1970s and training with the likes of Joe Frazier
and George Benton, Bumpus hung up his gloves for an education. He
enrolled in Temple University and graduated in 1985 with a degree
in Russian studies. Bumpus, a Roxbury native, still recalls going
back to visit Frazier during his sophomore year of college. "My
sophomore year I stopped by Joe's gym and Joe was there with
Marvis, his son who's also a lifelong friend of mine," he said. "I
had 16 credits, a 4.0, (and) Calculus and International Finance
were two of the courses. I showed Joe the report card and he looked
at it and he grinned and said 'Wow man, I'm really proud of you.'
Then he said, 'When you gonna get back in the ring?'"
About three years after
graduating, it was a phone call that got Bumpus back in the ring -
but this time as a coach. In 1988, local high school students who
were putting on a production of "The Great White Hope" about boxer
Jack Johnson, called him seeking boxing instruction. Bumpus agreed
to help and after that he was hooked.
His students have ranged in age
from 6 to 86. He has taught a man with cerebral palsy and trained a
number of martial artists with black belts. "I've seen people who
are totally uncoordinated and by the time they finish with me
they're doing rock climbing because they're taught," Bumpus said.
"They're doing things that they never did."
Only a sixth-grader, Paul
Tillyer is broadening his horizons at a young age. "Not many kids
are doing this," he said. "It's really fun." Paul enjoys learning
from the best. "He's funny and he helps me a lot," Paul said of
Bumpus. "... It's like training with Mohammed."
Bumpus still reminisces about
his years as a boxer, but it's when speaking about his students
that his eyes gleam and his smile broadens. It seems his greatest
accomplishment - being a teacher - has also become his lasting
legacy. "The one thing that makes me proud is a number of the
students that I've taught over the years have become boxing
teachers. But what makes me even more proud is that a number of the
students that I've taught have just become teachers in general who
didn't plan on that," Bumpus said.
"... Teaching is an art and
that's really what I'm about. That's what I am, I'm a teacher more
so than a boxer or anything else." For more information on the
Pioneer Valley Boxing School visit www.westernmassboxing.com.
Each level consists
of 10 private one-half hour sessions, although levels above
the first level can be repeated before moving on to the next level.
I do classes by appointment only, at a time that is convenient to
you (as long as no one else has a class at that time). Classes are
normally taken three times per week. Consequently, it
takes less than four weeks to do each level. Tuition is
paid upfront, as Coach Bumpus guarantees to give you
classes at a time convenient to you.
Level 1 - $300 (Absolutely NO CONTACT)
a.) Learn balance and throwing punches properly - and hard.
b.) Learn how to prevail, in a street-fighting scenario.
c.) Learn basic techniques of attack and defense.
Level 2 - $300
(pre-register $250) (Absolutely NO CONTACT)
a.) Learn how to shadow box. (boxing an imaginary opponent)
b.) Learn how to use heavy bag and standing speed bag.
c.) Introduction to shadow sparring. (shadow boxing
with a real opponent)
Level 3 - $300 (pre-register $250)
a.) Learn how to develop attacks.
b.) Sparring light, then heavier (gradually)
c.) Introduction to fighting
Pre-register for all three levels - $700 (a $900
Email or Visit Us Today to Learn
|Pioneer Valley Boxing School
518 Pleasant Street, Suite 102
Northampton, MA 01060-3997