Duluth Native Danny Huffman Ready For the Fight of His Life
The local boxer makes his pro debut this Saturday at the DECC.
DULUTH, Minn. – For Danny Huffman, sports was always a big part of his life.
“Growing up in my family in general, it was always who was the best athlete, who was the best football player, the best baseball, the best hockey player. It was a tradition of sports and I loved them,” he said.
But when he got to high school, things started to change.
“All of the sudden, I started hindering my playing time with sports, even though i was one of the best players on the team. I wasn’t going to school. Coaches were benching me. And there went all of my high school sports that I always dreamed to play. It was always the biggest thing in my life.”
Throughout his time at Denfeld High School, Huffman ended up here at the Arrowhead Junior Detention Center. And it wasn’t even the worst of his teenage experiences.
“House has been shot up and I’ve done things that I don’t like to talk about that I’m not proud of. I’ve got quite a bit of stitches across my head here that fractured my skull from a kid hitting me in the head with a brick over doing the same stupid stuff.”
But then after watching a Floyd Mayweather fight, Huffman had an epiphany.
“This is awesome. Everyone is loving Floyd Mayweather. He’s got all the fans and all the girls, and he’s making money for it while I’m going to jail for doing the same exact thing outside the ring,” said Huffman.
And that’s when he came to the Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, run by former professional boxer Zach Walters.
“The door cracks open and in walks Danny, looking at stuff and nodding his head. And I’m like ‘Can I help you?’ And he said ‘I want to talk about getting into boxing’,” Walters said.
“For a couple months, I didn’t tell my mom. I didn’t tell my dad. I didn’t tell anyone I was boxing,” said Huffman.
“I said, ‘Do you want to start today or tomorrow?’ And he said tomorrow, which means they’re never coming back. But Danny came back and he busted his butt,” Walters said.
After recording a 28–8 amateur record, the decision to go pro was made. And it won’t be your average debut as Huffman will be one of the headliners at Saturday’s “Generation Next” event at the DECC. And he will be the only local boxer on the card.
“The attention and adoration he’s getting from the locals is way more than I ever could have expected. Holy smokes. People just love Danny Huffman. This is great,” said Walters.
But that pressure is nothing compared to the pressure of raising his one–year–old son Eithan alongside his girlfriend Noelle.
“Having my son was definitely an eye-opener. And I realized I can’t keep getting into trouble anymore for his sake. I’m putting my family in danger by some of the people that I was hanging around with and some of the things I was doing,” Huffman said. “I just don’t want him to be involved with that. He can look back and be proud of me and want to be like me someday and I want to be a good role model to him.”
With family, friends and the entire Northland behind him, Huffman is looking to continue excel at a sport that literally saved his life.
“He said, ‘Jungle, this boxing I think it saved my life. Because there was a couple times when former friends of his got into stuff and he’s like, ‘If I wasn’t with you on this boxing trip, I’d be there getting into that stuff,” said Walters.
“There was a time there where I think everyone was a little worried for me about what was going to happen and at that point, I didn’t care what was going to happen to me. I was just down the wrong path and it really did save my life. The biggest thing I always regretted was I never got to play any high school sports and that was so big in my family. This kind of gave me a second chance. Now here I am, four years later, about to turn professional. I’m just really excited,” Huffman said.
The action on Saturday starts at 7 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are still available through www.ticketmaster.com.