Jonathan ''No Fear'' Casimere. (Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 10:28 AM
Near the northern-most terminus of Common Street, a small, pale brick building sits tucked into an aging residential area.
Within this unassuming confines lays the purveyor of nearly 100 years of Lake Charles boxing history, Daley’s Gym.
The gym has been home to 13 world-class fighters, claims owner Philip Daley. The Daley family has a proud fighting heritage as Daley and his sons all competed professionally.
That tradition is being carried on by the gym’s young pro Jonathan “No Fear” Casimere. With a 3-0 record, the 26-year-old Lake Charles resident is far from a newcomer to the sport. He fights Earl Sidney Friday in Bossier City.
From an early age Casimere displayed a talent and affinity for boxing. His uncle, a martial arts enthusiast, also trained peripherally as a boxer. Although he showed little interest in martial arts, a 12-year-old Casimere fell in love with boxing the moment his uncle brought him into the gym.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” Casimere said, beaming as he reminisced about the roots of his passion for the sport.
Casimere trained for several years before his first amateur bout in 2006. His patience paid off as the 5-foot-9, 154-pounder made noise throughout his amateur career. His accomplishments include twice winning the Louisiana State Golden Gloves Championship and the Governor’s Games championship once.
The most recent of his victims on the professional circuit was veteran boxer and former Texas middleweight champion Larry Skinner.
Going into the bout it seemed as if Skinner had an edge.
The match was in front of his hometown crowd at Beamers Event Center in Dallas and his manager/cut man/promoter was the event promoter. The 6-2 Skinner had an advantage in height as well as experience with nearly 30 fights under his belt.
“They made him (Skinner) look like Superman,” Daley said. “I think they underestimated Jonathan. I know they did.”
This false sense of superiority did nothing for Skinner’s ability to handle his determined opponent. Casimere landed a solid right cross in the first round, sending a stunned Skinner to the canvas for an eight count.
“Then he knew he had a fight on his hands,” chuckled Daley.
Casimere went on to win the four-round bout by unanimous decision.
Despite Casimere’s recent success, Daley said he has no plans to let his fighter rest on his laurels.
Asked how he’ll prep for Friday’s fight, Casimere said he has to “go straight at him, try to work angles on him and throw some power shots. I’m going to try to get him out of there early because I don’t think he’s as strong as me.”
Daley said Casimere’s confidence in his striking power is not false bravado. In fact, Daley said Casimere’s power actually hurts him when it come to training.
“The biggest problem is with sparing,” Daley said. “We’ve got to go to New Orleans or Houston to find someone who can spar with him. There’s no one around here that he doesn’t have to hold back on.”
The displays of power, footwork and speed are readily apparent when watching footage of a few of Casimere’s amateur fights.
Lightning-fast barrages of punches fly fluidly as the nimble fighter works inside and out on his opponents in a way Daley said is reminiscent of “Sugar” Ray Leonard. Daley draws a similar comparison when discussing Casimere’s character.
“He’s a lot like Sugar Ray Leonard. He’s a gentleman and a lovable guy, but once that bell rang he was a different guy,” Daley said.
“Jonathan is a lot like that. Once that bell rings he’s a different guy. Then as soon as it’s over, he’s shaking your hand and helping you up off the floor.”
Casimere, in a confidently humble way, doesn’t subscribe to any such comparison.
“I don’t really compare myself to anyone,” he said, “I’m just trying to be the first Jonathan Casimere.”
Daley said he has high hopes for Casimere, expecting him to be fighting in 10-round bouts as early as next year. The excitement surrounding Casimere is because of his intangible tools as much as it is his physical ones, Daley said.
“He’s got the heart,” Daley says, “Some guys can be the best trained, but they can’t get past mental blocks. He doesn’t have any of that. That’s why we call him ‘No Fear’ Casimere.”