Justin Garman’s kitchen smells like coffee. He’s brewing the coffee that his aunt brought back from Hawaii. Garman says he likes to serve his guests this coffee because it’s his personal favorite.
“It has a hearty and well-rounded taste, with a hint of sweetness.”
The living room is lit up by the many candles that Garman’s girlfriend, Andrea White, had picked up from T.J. Maxx. Garman says the place looked completely different until White moved in and changed things. One change he’s not a big fan of is the different scents from the candles – but he accepts it .
“It’s her place now,” Garman jokes.
White stands in the kitchen preparing their vegan dinner. Even though neither of them are vegan, Garman’s doctor suggested that he adopt a vegan diet after he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Growing up in Kimmel, Indiana, Garman lived with his mother, Staci, and stepfather, Andy. At the age of 16, Garman moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to attend high school and live with his father, Dan, and stepsister, Janelle. As a kid, Garman enjoyed playing all kinds of sports but his favorite was wrestling. Garman’s entire family shares a passion for the sport of wrestling and it was one of the reasons that he began training as a boxer during his senior year of high school.
“I was always into combative sports and happened to segue into the core of combat, which is boxing,” Garman said.
Garman had his first fight in Toledo, Ohio, at the Golden Gloves Tournament. It was a nerve racking moment for him.
“I ended up losing the fight by decision. It wasn’t even close,” Garman said. “I had all the confidence in the world but when the time came and the gym was full of people, I froze up and had more energy than I knew what to do with.”
It isn’t hard to believe that Garman’s first fight wasn’t his favorite. In fact, Garman’s favorite fights don’t really involve his opponents – they involve his sparring partners when training at the gym.
“You have beat yourself up for hours next to a guy and at the end the coach tells you to get in the ring and see who still has the most energy to come out on top.”
The training itself is a battle of endurance. A normal day of training for Garman starts with a three to five-mile warmup run before the more intensive work begins.
“There is stretching, jump rope and shadow boxing. And then you lace up and do bag work, working combinations and footwork for an hour or so. And if you are lucky you get to spar.” According to Garman, sparring is his favorite part of training because he can put what he has been working on to the test.
While the training is demanding, there are other challenges outside of the gym. For Garman, cutting weight and sticking to a strict diet all the time presents the biggest challenge. According to The National Collegiate Boxing Association, boxing is a challenging sport that requires dedication, focus and time management skills to achieve a peak level of physical and mental fitness. Garman knows that very well, so he has put in the effort needed to achieve many goals in his boxing career.
Even though Garman hasn’t won many big fights or awards in his seven-year boxing career, he has learned integrity and persistence. Duncan Hale, Garman’s coach from the Hurricane Boxing Club, appreciates Garman’s hard work as a boxer and as an individual.
“When he puts his mind to something he can always accomplish it. He has a strong passion for things he cares a lot about. I believe that helped him with his boxing career.”
Garman has been waiting for an opportunity. However, when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2017, it impacted his plans in boxing. According to Mayo Clinic, Crohn’s disease causes an inflammation of bowel tissue that can be both painful and potentially life-threatening. Garman is still upset about the disease since it has affected his life in many ways.
“My Crohn’s disease came unexpected, but I found out it is something that I have had for a very long time. I had to have surgery to have three and a half feet of my lower intestine removed.”
Garman had to miss several weeks of training, as well as work, to recover after the surgery was performed in October 2017. Despite the surgery being performed over a year ago, Garman hasn’t fully recovered yet and still cannot resume training. He has been going through different treatments and tests in the past year to find the best way to cope with the disease.
Having Crohn’s disease is not only affecting Garman’s life – it’s also affecting that of his girlfriend, Andrea, who has had to adjust to the changes as well.
“Crohn’s disease has affected Justin’s and my life tremendously. We had to change our lifestyle entirely. I have to become aware of what his new diet should be, which requires a lot more thoughts and efforts.” White said. “Justin’s exercise routine had to change and he can’t over work his stomach because it’s now more sensitive. When recovering from surgery he handles it as strong as he could, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Even though Garman doesn’t know how much longer he has to wait until he can get back to boxing, he’s looking forward to going back to the gym to start training again.
“Boxing has helped me achieve many personal goals that have helped me mentally day to day. It lets you see confrontation in a different perspective.”
For now, Garman continues the vegan diet he’s been on for the last four months in the hopes that he can recover and get back to training sooner. Wishing he was eating his favorite food, fried chicken, he puts the last bite of his avocado salad in his mouth.
“Man…I hate avocados.”