Jon Schmidt: Ring the nurse
Photos courtesy of 13twentythree photography
In last year's box office-topping Batman film, "The Dark Knight," undoubtedly lost for many a' youngster -- buried behind the masks, beneath the makeup, and between the myriad effects -- was the thematic luster of Aaron Eckhart's character, District Attorney Harvey Dent. Of course, that is simply one element of Eckhart's performance. The other, of course, is the scarred and disfigured character that is his alter-ego, Two-Face. Such duality of self has long been of staple of film and literature, but never is the thesis more powerful than when viewed in reality.
Boxer Jon Schmidt lives this reality, breathes such balance. And while his life of modern day may mirror the fictional embodiments whom we cheer, then loathe, then study, Schmidt was not always so sympathetic a protagonist. Rather, a decade ago, Schmidt was more a number than a man.
Back in 1999, Jon Schmidt lived the lifestyle of an aggressive, wayward teen, toeing an untoward path that, unsurprisingly, led to a critical mass. While attending a house party to which he and friends were invited, Schmidt found himself on the wrong side of an instigator's brass knuckles. His reaction, in brief, placed him on the proactive side of a baseball bat. The result of the melee found Schmidt charged with second-degree assault. His punishment was a year in Anoka County jail.
"Anything I've ever been through has made me into who I am," Schmidt, now 28, reflects back on his younger self. "Jail was a huge growing-up period in my life. Seeing all the people in jail I didn't want to be. It was a huge eye opener.
"People always say they regret the bad things they've done," he continues. "But at the same time, I can't really say that because it's formed me into who I am today. I was a different person when I left jail."
A distinct part of who he is today is Jon Schmidt the Boxer. Prior to, and during his sentence, Schmidt first found the salvation offered by the ring.
"My dad looked up Ron Lyke," Schmidt remembers back to '99 just after his assault charge, when his father, former amateur boxer Richard Schmidt, looked up Lyke, his own former trainer from years past. "And then my dad pretty much took me into the gym by the ear. I don't think Ron was looking to take on anybody else at the time, but as a favor to my dad he gave me a chance."
The favor extended to Schmidt's time in jail, when he was able to leave his time inside for brief stints.
"I did a lot of community service through the gym," Schmidt recalls. "I'd clean up and help out. And I'd sneak in tiny workouts. It wasn't like I was fighting -- just as much training as I could get in for the few extra minutes."
All those little sweat minutes of yore, have today become a decade. Schmidt was released after 8 months for good behavior, and on an internal plane, had found a release for his aggressions. A fifty-fight amateur career ensued and in '06, Schmidt turned pro. He has since assembled a 7-1 record with Lyke and been christened with a moniker via his Seconds Out Promotions stalemates that is emblematic of his consummate work ethic.
"I'm known as 'The Ironman,'" Schmidt says with a wry, intense smile. "Caleb Truax and Matt Vanda gave me the name."
While said alias is no doubt in reference to Jon Schmidt's gym-rat mentality and unique training regime that has found him running the last two Twin Cities' Marathons, the name and it's intent further extend to Schmidt's life outside of Lyke's Gym. When not training on a near-nightly basis, Schmidt drives truck 30 hours per week. And the remainder of his time isn't spent eating Doritos, watching the aforementioned Batman movies.
Rather, Schmidt is near completion of his second year at Anoka Ramsey Community College, where he sports a 3.82 GPA and is within months of finishing up the necessary prerequisites to begin full-time, Registered Nurse courses. Herein, lays the unique duality of a man who gets paid to harm, but studies to heal.
"I definitely have two sides," Schmidt considers. "The nursing side and the violent side. When I'm boxing, I angle all the aggression I have into training, focusing, and beating my opponent. But on the other side, there are people out there who can't help themselves -- and I want to be hand's on and help them. It's definitely odd, though, that I could be beating on some guy in the ring, and then nursing his grandmother."
Such oddity remains vibrant when Schmidt's classmates at Anoka Ramsey consider the side of the "Ironman" that they don't see at school.
"Boxing wasn't something he flaunted or anything when we first met," says Schmidt's school-mate in the R.N. program, Kelly Nelson, with whom he has been lab partners for nearly a year. "It was more something, after a few months -- and him showing up to class with a black eye -- that came out."
Nelson has never seen Schmidt box and doesn't believe that most in their lab even know of his fighting career. Still, she can gather how his dual lives are able to co-exist, and compliment one another:
"He's kind of got that hard, edgy look," Nelson continues. "He's very serious and very focused when it comes to school -- as I'm sure he is with boxing. But I don't think that boxing is what he wants classmates to think of when they think of him. He wants people to take him seriously as a nursing student."
And while Schmidt has recently made her more aware of impending bouts, Nelson remains tentative to attend.
"I'm a little bit hesitant to see him box because I'm not sure if I can see him deliver a punch or take a punch," Nelson admits. "It would be great to see him in that light, but I'm tentative because the guy I know seems so gentle -- like a caretaker in the way that he behaves toward other people at school. So it would be weird to see that change, both in personality and in action."
Gauging by her words, Nelson is undoubtedly more comfortable speaking toward the Schmidt that she regularly sees sans mitts and mouthguard:
"Everybody in class knows his name," she concludes. "He's very smart. People want to be in his lab group because he works really, really hard. Everybody knows that he's a quality student."
What may be Schmidt's most quality tenet is not his ability to succeed in both the ring and the classroom, but rather his aptitude for succinctly separating the two distinct worlds. Schmidt says that the knowledge of the human form has surely aided his own training, however when queried about meshing his two worlds, the answer, like his dichotomy of persona, remains exacting:
"When I'm boxing, I don't think about nursing. And my nursing has nothing to do with boxing."
Such words leave one to wonder what happens to Jon Schmidt, say, when traversing the road from school to the gym. Perhaps he just tosses his books and pencils into his trunk. Maybe he finds alteration in listening to different music or changing clothes. Or -- most conceivably -- he is just one of those unique souls who owns an Iron focus, an Iron will, to channel an inner-sanctum that balances day, and night.
Schmidt's next pro bout is scheduled for this Friday, February 13th, 2009 at Epic Nightclub. His scheduled opponent for the evening, entitled "St. Valentine Massacre," is William Deets (2-8, 1 KO) of Kearney, Nebraska.
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