Alexandria, VA

Dawson Saint Jour wants to be the Tony Robbins of boxing. Every Sunday, the coach with Hiit Hard Training is at Jones Point Park with his coaches and boxers, shouting motivational aphorisms while punches are thrown and footwork is improved.

“When life knocks you down, try to land on your back, because if you can look up, you can get up,” Saint Jour recently told ALXnow, quoting motivational speaker Les Brown. “Another favorite of mine is, ‘Don’t just go through it but grow through it.'”

For the last three years, Saint Jour and his team of boxing coaches took their talents to the business world with a corporate wellness program. But the pandemic changed the way offices work, and now with more clients working from home Saint Jour is looking to open a physical location in Alexandria.

For the time being, however, that means weekly workouts at Jones Point every Sunday from 1-4 p.m. It costs $20 for one class and $65 for four classes.

“We’ve been doing corporate wellness since 2017, and due to the COVID restrictions we had to stop offering our program at the on-site facilities,” Saint Jour said. “We wanted to continue offering these programs to individuals, and we’ve been stuck in our homes for months and months with no way to relieve stress.”

Coach Devon Davies started boxing five years ago and has worked with Saint Jour since October.

“I was going through some personal stuff in my life and I was looking for something to sort of wake me up and feel like a part of a community again and that’s when I got into boxing,” Davies said. “Dawson has changed my life. These people become your family and you know they have your back, and you have confidence in yourself to stand up and defend yourself and have passion for people you love.”

Courtesy photos and video

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Dennis Porter, the longtime head coach of the Alexandria Boxing Club, passed away on Jan. 7, 2020.

The trainer of such Alexandria champions as 2016 Olympic Silver Medalist Shakur Stevenson and former IBF World Featherweight Champion Eric Aikens was 59 years old and died of a heart attack.

“He was a demanding guy. He had that force behind him, like a drill instructor. You listened to him, because you could hear him all over the building,” said Alexandria Boxing Coach Jeffrey “Steady” Johnson. “He was one heck of a guy, to give this much of his life to a program. It doesn’t happen often when a guy can do it for 30 years.”

Porter is survived by his wife, Crystel, children Dennis, Jr. and Timothy, and a number of grandchildren. He was memorialized by his fighters in the gym the day after his passing.

“There were guys I hadn’t seen since the ’80s,” Johnson said. “It made me tear up, because around here it’s all about family. It was a beautiful thing to see.”

Iesha Kenney became a national amateur champion under Porter.

“He always pushed me further than I thought possible,” Kenney said. “He was an all-around good guy and he was always here.”

Porter’s funeral will be held on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 11 a.m. at Antioch Church of Christ (1120 Queen Street).

Photos courtesy Alexandria Boxing Club

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