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Black History Month in Ohio: Oshae Jones

Jones is the first woman from Ohio to medal in Olympic boxing, but tragedy almost kept her from fulfilling her dreams.

CLEVELAND — Oshae Jones grew up in a boxing family on the south side of Toledo. Her father took her to the gym when she was 10, to train alongside her younger brother, Otha Jones III. Her father, Otha 'Big O' Jones Jr., promised his daughter she wouldn't have to spar. But once at the gym, he told her to put gloves on and step into the ring.

Oshae was a natural. 

Growing up, she trained at Soul City Boxing Gym, run by her father and brother, Roshawn, who helps train his sister. 

By 2019, the welterweight won at the Pan American Games and followed up with a fifth place in the Russian World Championships. 

Credit: AP
Oshae Jones, from the United States, left, exchanges punches with Mexico's Brianda Tamara Cruz Sandoval during their women's welterweight 69-kg boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Her eyes set on Tokyo, she waited to find out if she'd made the Olympic team. There would be no bouts to determine who made the team as the Americas Continental qualifiers in Argentina were canceled due to COVID-19. USA Team members were selected based on previous record ranking. 

Oshae's previous record made her a strong contender. 

But, as she waited for a call from the Olympic team, tragedy struck. 

In May, neighbors, banging on the door alerted Oshae that her home was on fire.  She made it out, just as the ceiling of her bedroom collapsed. Grateful, that she made it out alive, yet the boxer was heartbroken too: all her training equipment had been lost. 

Credit: WTOL

Days later, the call came: she'd made the Olympic team. A fundraiser helped her replace some of the destroyed equipment -- enough to also get clothes on her back and ready for Tokyo. 

Once the games got underway, Jones battled successfully -- earning a bronze medal in the welterweight division. She now holds the distinction of being the very first woman from Ohio to stand on the podium at the Olympics in boxing. 

Once home, Toledo threw a parade in Oshae Jones' honor, and she was given a key to the city, one of the highest honors a mayor can bestow. 


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