Donny Giron is a personable guy. He loves chatting with people he meets as a member of the Facilities Management department at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “I talk to everybody. Shortly after I started at CU Anschutz my supervisor and I were walking through my building and she was surprised at how many people I knew by name,” he said. “I’d rather call someone by name than say, ‘hey bro.’” While his name tag says “Donald,” he insists on going by “Donny – with a Y.”
It’s hard to imagine that Giron once made a living in one of the fiercest professions imaginable – boxing. He competed at the highest levels of the sport for many years, but, thanks to his humility, it takes some prodding to get him to share stories from the ring.
Such as the time he went toe to toe with the five-time world champion Roy Jones Jr. during an attempt at joining the U.S. Olympic boxing team. Or the fact that he was undefeated in Colorado for 16 years. Or the high honor he received just last year: Giron was inducted into the Colorado Golden Gloves Hall of Fame.
Giron was once ranked 20th in the world, but at the time he didn’t consider it a big deal. “There were 19 guys who were better than me,” he said. However, after he hung up the gloves in 2001, Giron’s opinion of his past accomplishments changed. “You know there are a lot of boxers in the world,” he said. “Actually, being 20th is pretty cool.” But his acclaim didn’t begin with his professional career; as an amateur he was ranked third in the nation and 16th in the world.
Work in the community
After his retirement from boxing, Giron took a different approach to the sport. He took up coaching and has been a boxing coach for the last 13 years, most recently at Thornton Boxing Club. Giving back to the community is something that has been built into his daily life. It is the reason he helped start a food bank in Thornton to help support members of his church, Cross Connections.
Religion also plays a special role in Giron’s life. He recently became an ordained pastor, having started down a spiritual path 22 years ago.
Prior to that, drinking and partying landed him in some scrapes in his younger days. “From age 19 to 27, my life was pretty rough,” he said. “If you told me 22 years ago that I would be preaching the word of God now, I would have asked you what you were smoking.”
When Giron was a teenager, peers would often try to goad him and his two brothers into scuffles. While Giron maintains that as a young man he never started a fight unjustly, he said he’s definitely ended a few. Giron said boxing taught him to fight for everything he wants in life – literally and figuratively – and how to maintain determination.
It’s also taught him how to respect every person regardless of ability or position. And he encounters people from all walks in his duties as a general laborer and pest-control specialist in Facilities Management, where he has worked for nearly a year and a half. “I may have had my success in boxing, but we’re all just people,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t care who you are, what color your skin is, whether you’re rich or poor. Just don’t forget where you’re from and try to take care of your community.”
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