Ocala boxer, veteran take puncher’s chance into amateur debut

Daniel will fight Daniel Placid July 24 in Clearwater
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Julius Daniel has experienced a number of battles throughout his life, but when he steps in the ring Saturday night to make his amateur boxing debut, it might be the easiest one he’s ever had.

The 34 year-old former 82nd Airborne Paratrooper has been training for this moment for the past 10 months at 12 Rounds Boxing in Ocala. He came to the gym with no prior experience in hand-to-hand combat, except for what he learned in the military.

When it comes to professional sports, there’s generally a small window of time athletes have to attempt to realize their lofty goal of being the best in the world at their respective sport, and that’s usually between the ages of 18-25 years old. In the case of Daniel, especially in the sport of boxing, he’s considered over-the-hill at 34.

But none of that matters to him. He’s beaten far worse odds over the past decade.

“I’ve always been a fighter,” said amateur boxer Julius Daniel. “Just not in the ring.” “[I’ve] dealt with being homeless, dealt with mental depression. After the military, I got out 10 years ago, struggled just keeping a job. I came to boxing 10 months ago. It just gave me a reason to keep getting up in the morning.”

Daniel admitted that when he and his family came down they didn’t have a place to stay or money to afford one, so he literally went knocking door-to-door to ask for charity from people in Ocala.

In 2019, the stress and struggles in his life became so exhausting and hopeless, Daniel hit rock bottom and nearly made a dire choice.

“Went through issues with family, ended up separating from my wife and kids for two years. That lead me to suicidal tendencies and walking the streets in Silver Springs with no home, no i.d., no car. And one day I was ready to take my life.”

Daniel said he made the decision to walk out into traffic on State Road 200, a very busy road in Ocala, and stop in front of an on-coming semi truck and end it all. But before taking those grave steps, he had an epiphany.

“That day, I realized, I needed to find something to fight for. What I’m fighting for is not just myself, but other people dealing with mental struggles, depression, anxiety, and just don’t know how to cope with life or hack life.”

Now, he’s a changed man for the better.

Since that moment, Daniel has worked on himself, both physically and mentally.

He’s started his own construction company, reunited with his wife and kids, and in the 10 months leading up to this fight, he’s cut down from over 200 lbs to 178 lbs.

It’s because of his round-the-clock, machine-like training his conditioning coach believes Daniel is ready for his debut in the ring.

“He will push himself until he has nothing left and then he’ll go another few rounds,” said Conditioning Coach Don Martin Jr. “He’s dedicated, he’s determined, and when I think he’s done, he’s not done. He continues.”

“I’ve had to tell him not to train before, and he’s like, are you kidding me? After work he went out and did his circuit at his house with sledgehammers and tires and chains. Dude, stop.”

During his sparring sessions, Daniel said he’s fought many different opponents, all ranging in size and weight class.

“I’ve fought guys who are 150 pounds to guys weighing over 270 pounds,” said Daniel. “I’ve taken my share of lumps. Now I’m going to dish it back out Saturday night.”

Despite pouring in countless hours preparing for his first amateur fight, and spilling blood, sweat, and tears, Daniel truly believes this contest won’t be anything nearly as difficult as the hardships he overcame to get here.

“People are really hacking life out there walking these streets right where we’re at. They don’t have food; they don’t have clothes. That’s hard. This is going to be easy.”

Daniel will face Daniel Placid in a light-heavyweight bout Saturday night in Clearwater.

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