Marcus Joseph Story: Former FAMU Football Player Taj Jenkines From receiving 1st Team All-MEAC Honors to striving for greatness in one of the most advanced sports in the world, former Rattler Taj Jenkines has been competing as a heavyweight boxer. “For me, boxing is going to be harder (than football) because it is more discipline,” said Jenkines. “In football, a player can miss practices and still perform in the game. In boxing it’s not going to happen like that. You can play football, but you can’t play boxing.” The 6’4″ 240 pound tight end captured the attention of Rattler fans as a true freshman. He was able to contribute to the team in his opening game against Delaware State and against 2nd ranked Hampton University. Jenkines, now one of Tallahassee’s amateur boxers, said he is now competing to bring home a heavyweight title. “It took work to make that transition, like everything else,” said Jenkins. “I learned how to keep hands up and stay on my toes.” After working out for two professional NFL teams, Jenkines then became a part of the All-American Heavyweights, a boxing club in California. Jenkins was able to get his first experience with the boxing world in one of the best places for boxing in the United States. “Ultimately, we are working so that he can create a combination and a way that he likes to fight,” said Eric Clinton, Jenkines current trainer. “I like his foot work. I see some of the things that he is trying to pull off. Whoever worked with him before gave him the basics foot work. I’m just given him that technical stuff, so that he can do it much easier. He has the strength as a heavyweight.” Clinton has over 20 years of experience with boxing. He said his body of experience has enabled him to learn enough to help others mature in the sport. “I share my knowledge and experience with these boxers that I train,” said Clinton. “I have been able to fight against some well trained boxers which has allowed me to grow as a boxer. So, I come back and share of my talent an experience with these guys. “ The boxing program that accepted Jenkines works with athletes from different sports and transforms them into boxers; because they are suppose to have a faster turn around time. “I work with guys to make them better at what they do, and to possibly help them take it to the next level,” Clinton said. “I give a lot of attention to these guys here, so they can possibly start a professional career.” “I have not been that much involved in boxing in Tallahassee because it is not as big,” said Jenkines. “It took me a while to find a gym.” Jenkines played football under former FAMU head coach Rubin Carter from 2005 to 2008. He made First Team All-MEAC in 2007 and was named Preseason First Team All-MEAC in the following season. “I know boxing is on a rise now in Tallahassee,” said Clinton. “I know there is a total of five gyms now. Every gym has about one quality fighter. This gym has three. We would like to see boxing more on a rise here in Tallahassee. Especially, when you get ex-football and basketball players involved.“ Over the last couple of months, Jenkines has been working to improve his jab. He said it’s the next step in his evolution as a fighter.
“Amateur boxing is about points, so I have been developing my technical skills,” Jenkines said, “If you can bring combinations and speed like in the lightweight division to a heavyweight division you are definitely going to be a problem.”The former Rattler has also got back to shadow boxing during his training session in Tallahassee. “Jonathan Ham taught me about shadow boxing,” he added. “It helps you practice to hit what you see.” Jenkines says he emulates Chris Byrd, a former heavyweight fighter. “As far a heavyweight, I like to keep people off guard,” said Jenkines. “So in that regard, Chris Byrd is closest to my style.” The transition from football to boxing hasn’t been an easy one, but Jenkines said the confidence he has will allow him to become great. “I go in to every fight knowing that I am going to win because I train hard,” Jenkines said.