NN boxer Jerry Forrest is a promising heavyweight

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Jerry Forrest

Jerry Forrest sweats as he trains Thursday, July 10, 2010, with Bilal Muhammad at the Moton Theater in Newport News. Forrest began boxing three years ago. (Diane Cebula, Daily Press / June 10, 2010)

  • Jerry Forrest dreams of Olympic and professional success
  • He dabbled in football and basketball at Woodside
  • Forrest reached the Golden Gloves national tournament

Jerry Forrest was an aspiring architect. He earned good grades at Woodside High, sketched habitually and made friends easily.

Four years, two children and a bloody fistfight later, Forrest is a promising amateur heavyweight boxer.

"I'm like an adrenaline junkie, and I'm not afraid of anybody," he said before a recent training session. "I think my power is unmatchable. … I don't think anybody in the country can beat me.

"I believe in my heart that I can go 15 rounds with the best in the world. I don't mean to sound arrogant. That's just how I feel."

When read, Forrest's words sound boastful, indeed. Typical brash boxer, you might think.

But Forrest's words ring differently when heard. He's exceptionally well-spoken and, 230-pound frame aside, seems almost gentle, not what you'd expect from a 22-year-old dreaming of Olympic and professional success.

That different vibe is a primary reason why Moton Community House coach Bilal Muhammad agreed to tutor Forrest, a national Golden Gloves qualifier in 2009 and quarterfinalist in 2010.

"I took him because he was serious about what he was saying," said Muhammad, a 70-year-old boxing lifer who's worked with champions such as Mike Tyson, Pernell Whitaker and Lennox Lewis. "I thought he was exceptional. You don't find many young people (like him)."

You don't find many young people gravitating to boxing at age 18.

Forrest dabbled in football and basketball while at Woodside, but in February 2006, four months shy of graduation, he discovered his natural punching power.

A fellow student attacked Forrest from behind in a classroom, assistant principal Carl Williams said, and Forrest defended himself.

"He beat the crap out of (that) boy," Williams said. "That other boy chose the wrong boy to pick on. There was no doubt when I walked in who the man was in the classroom. Whoa."

The son of a Navy recruiter, Forrest served a mandatory 10-day suspension, returned and graduated on time.

"He kept up with his work while he was out of school," Williams said, "and he came back and didn't get into any trouble. … He was always conscientious and hard-working, always extremely polite and respectful. I knew he was going to do good things and be a credit to Woodside."

While suspended from Woodside, Forrest encountered other challengers, out to avenge their friend's whipping.

"I never lost," Forrest said. "I was knocking them down and dropping them."

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