KnuckleHeadz is a gym located in Ventura, California that specializes in both boxing and MMA training and is owned and operated by Joseph “Hoss” Janik who has been involved in the boxing world for over 30 years.
A longtime resident of Ventura County, Janik, as an amateur boxer, compiled an impressive record of 102-7 but when his debut as a professional fighter was canceled days before the fight, leading to series of canceled fights, he grew frustrated with the sport and decided to hang up the gloves at the young age of 25.
Janik, admittedly, drifted in and out of trouble before he was reinvigorated, personally and professionally, by the birth of his daughter Justene in 1995. It was also around that time that Janik found his true calling in the boxing world, working on the other side of the ropes as a trainer of fighters.
Throwing himself headfirst back into the sport, Janik began to soak up techniques, training philosophies and strategies while working in and being exposed to training camps run by renowned trainers like Eduardo Garcia, Danny Smith and Buddy McGirt. Developing relationships with trainers like Freddie Roach, Jesse Reid and Danny Garcia as well as numerous fighters like former world champion, Fernando Vargas who gave Janik his popular nickname, “Hoss”, also contributed greatly to his knowledge of training.
With years of experience, and after training fighters at several different gyms that would often go out of business shortly after opening, he took on the owner and operator risk himself and opened up KnuckleHeadz as a permanent, stand alone, location in his hometown of Ventura.
Janik’s reputation, and welcoming attitude, immediately found professional boxers and MMA fighters, as well as amateurs and beginners, making KnuckleHeadz their new home.
Working as the strength and conditioning coach for Victor Ortiz, who trains at KnuckleHeadz, Janik was in the corner for USA Today’s 2011 “Fight of the Year” when Ortiz upset Andre Berto to win the WBC Welterweight title. The win paved the way for stardom for Ortiz, as well as, a controversial mega fight with the sport’s pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather. In the build up to that fight, Janik and KnuckleHeadz received worldwide attention when he and the gym were featured extensively on HBO’s TV show, 24/7 - Mayweather VS. Ortiz.
KnuckleHeadz was also featured multiple times on 24/7 - Martinez VS. Chavez when one of the sport’s best pound for pound fighters, Sergio Martinez, used the gym during his training camp for his decisive victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2012.
At the same time as Ortiz’s breakout success, Janik also guided Maureen Shea to a title at the end of 2011 when she captured the WBC’s Women’s Interim Featherweight Champion, giving Janik his first champion as a head trainer and fulfilling a lifelong dream. Janik and Shea are currently undefeated together and are set to fight for a full world title in 2014.
Janik’s success hasn’t been limited to just boxing. In the world of MMA, Janik’s fighter, Tony Ferguson was the winner of Season 13 of the Ultimate Fighter earning him a contract with the UFC and another Janik fighter, Chris Beal, appeared on The Ultimate Fighter in 2013 helping land the undefeated fighter a contract with the UFC in 2014.
Janik’s stable of professional fighters also includes world ranked welterweight boxer, Francisco Santana who is set to have a breakout 2014 with multiple televised fights scheduled as well as several up and coming young fighters from the 805 area and beyond.
It’s with Janik’s recent success that he’s made a major decision affecting the future of KnuckleHeadz as well as boxing and MMA in Ventura County and beyond. Janik has decided to turn KnuckleHeadz into a non-profit organization and in doing so, make KnuckleHeadz FREE for anyone under 18 to train and take classes at. Unlike virtually any gym in the world, no matter what financial hardships a child or parent faces, they are welcome to train at KnuckleHeadz.
“It may not be the smartest financial decision”, laughs Janik. “But I know in my heart it’s the right thing to do. This is the type of place I would have loved to have had growing up. For kids to be able to train alongside world champions and to see everyone be treated with equal respect, it’s a dream come true. I am blessed to wake up every day and do what I love. I want to be the trainer that works harder and cares more about his people than anyone else does and I want to give them a place that’s just as much a gym as it is a home.”
It’s that attitude that makes Janik such a special person and KnuckleHeadz such a special place.
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