16-Year Old Local Boxer Honored by City of Joliet
Last updated 7/27/2023 at 8:06pm
Joseph Awinongya Jr., better known as JoJo, was honored in a proclamation ceremony on July 18 at Joliet City Hall to celebrate his extraordinary achievements.
JoJo, a boxer at just 16 years old, has won 19 national championships, is the top rank in his age group and weight class for the country, is on the Team USA's junior Olympic boxing team, began college when he was 13, has his GED and associates degree, and recently received a full ride scholarship to the University of St. Francis, among other accomplishments.
"Joseph serves as an inspiration to other young individuals, as he mentors them to stay in school and stay away from Drugs and violence," Joliet mayor Terry D'Arcy said. "On behalf of the Joliet city council, I congratulate Joseph Awinongya Jr. on all of his outstanding accomplishments and thank him for the positive publicity he has brought to the city of Joliet, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."
At the ceremony, Awinongya addressed the city council, humbly expressing his gratitude for his supporters and the city of Joliet. "I'm someone that was born and raised in Joliet, and this community was the group that helped me get to the point I'm at today," Jojo said. "I have so many people that have helped me with boxing and school, but mostly to be a role model for me so I can be a role model for others."
JoJo cites his parents' contributions to his success. His father, Joseph Awinongya Sr., is a former amateur boxer in his own right, and now owns his own gym in Joliet, where he began training JoJo at age five. Originally, however, JoJo had no interest in stepping into the ring. "I was involved in other sports and I had tried it before but didn't really like it," JoJo said. "One night my dad came home from a trip feeling like he didn't want to be in the boxing world anymore. I wanted to cheer him up, so I asked him if he could help me box. He agreed to train me as long as I could stay on top of school, so I balanced the two out."
The father and son started training, and after three years, JoJo had his first fight. The rest is history. "Being a former fighter myself, I wanted to teach him situational boxing in the very beginning," Joseph said. "He took the skills I taught him and took them to the next level. That's why he's a step above the kids he's fighting. You can see the difference between him and other boxers his age. I know he's going to capitalize on that and get to the top."
Amidst his success, JoJo, who has won multiple awards for his community service, has made it a necessity to give back to the community. He strives to use his recognition to help others. "It has been a great help to know that I'm able to make all of these advancements in not just boxing but school as well," JoJo said. "I'm very happy to know I'm always able to create new beginnings for people."
With an already impressive resume, JoJo has now set his sights on the rest of his goals.
"I want to get the degree from St. Francis, all while I continue winning as many national championships as I can, get on to the USA team in the youth division, and then go to the pro level and win a world championship, all while representing Joliet," JoJo said.