Skip to main content

The City Journals

Jay Fullmer’s Motto Lives On

May 05, 2016 03:02PM ● By Tori La Rue

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

South Jordan - Unlike his brother Gene Fullmer, Jay Fullmer’s boxing legacy wasn’t preserved through a world championship record or Hall of Fame status, but through a small gym in South Jordan and the men he coached who still praise his name. 

It’s been one year since Jay Fullmer’s death on April 22, 2015, and his gym at 11000 South 2200 West is running strong, with 50 boxers registered, ranging in age from 9 to 31. Nick Butterfield, who Jay and Don Fullmer began coaching in the 70s, now runs the gym with the help of Ted Gurule, whose 13-year-old son has been training at the gym for four years. 

Photographs, news clippings, awards and other memorabilia of Gene, Jay and Don — Utah’s famous boxing brothers — line the walls of the gym. Among the artifacts hangs a sign with Jay’s motto: “We’re not saying that everybody’s going to end up being a champion, but I can guarantee you, if they keep coming down, they’ll be better kids and they’ll be better citizens and that’s all that we can ask.” It’s a motto they strive to live by every practice, Gurule said. 

Milo Gutierrez, 22, is one example of this principle. 

“After I first graduated from high school I started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I just partied and I didn’t know what I was doing, and I ended up in jail twice,” he said. “I remember coming back to tears in my mom’s eyes, and I’ll always remember that picture. I knew that I needed to change and get involved in something.” 

Gutierrez, of Herriman, saw a Facebook post about the Fullmer Brothers Boxing Gym in summer 2014 and searched the Internet for a phone number. When he called, Jay answered. 

“He told me to come over to the gym,” Gutierrez said. “When I got there, he gave me a hug and treated me like he knew me or like we were family, but we had never met before.” 

Gutierrez said he took advantage of every minute that the gym was open from 6:30 to 9 p.m. each Monday through Thursday night and said it began to change his character. 

“Boxing taught me discipline,” Gutierrez said. “You’ve got to have a calm mind and think before you do.” 

While some people say that boxing is violent, Gutierrez said it’s one of the most respectful sports out there. The participants shake their opponents’ hands, and have to put their confidence on the line when they go to fight, which helps them to stay humble, he said. 

On March 22, 2015, Gutierrez became state champion after training for two years and fighting in competitions for one year. Gutierrez said the championship came to him because of hard work and dedication and said he plans to put in the same work ethic when he starts college at Salt Lake Community College fall 2016. 

Just one month after Gutierrez’s state title, Jay passed away. 

“I really missed him a lot and the first weeks it was hard. My fights weren’t as good,” Gutierrez said. “I started listening to what Nick and Ted were saying, though. They were saying that Jay wouldn’t want it to be quiet and sad at the gym, and I knew they were right.” 

Gutierrez picked up his spirits and tried to be an example to the other fighters in the gym. In fall 2015, Rowan Hubley, a red-haired 9-year-old boy entered the gym for the first time, and he started following Gutierrez around.

“Milo’s an inspiration, like a hero, to him,” Joey Hubley, Rowan’s father, said. “He’s experienced. Milo sets that platform of potential and encourages Rowan to get there too.” 

 Although there’s no one of the same size or level as Rowan at the gym — he is only 50 pounds, so he hasn’t sparred yet — Rowan is determined to succeed in boxing. 

“My plan is that, using my training, I can get to the Olympics,” Rowan said. 

Gurule said that with Rowan’s dedication he has no doubts that he can get to the Olympic level. 

“Because Jay wanted to give back, kids, like Rowan, have the opportunity to train like this,” Gurule said. “The kids respect the Fullmers and want to represent them well.”

People interested in seeing what they gym looks like or interested in learning how to box may sign up to participate at the gym from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. There is no cost to be trained at the gym because the facility is run entirely by donations. 

“That’s how Jay created it and that’s how it is going to stay,” Gurule said