MUSCATINE, Iowa -- They are not just fighters in the ring. They're fighters in life.
Since 1971, the Muscatine Boxing Club has trained and transformed dozens of men and women of all ages and of all backgrounds.
"It's not what they look like, it's not how tall they are, how fat they are, or whatever shape or color they come in," explained Head Coach, Ron Williams. "They all come in with the same idea that they want to do better."
Ron was never a boxer himself, but more than 20 years ago his oldest son was.
"Back then, guys bled a lot more and I thought maybe that would discourage him and he would go to football, but then he said he liked it," said Ron.
Soon, Ron joined him in the gym with unique techniques and a passion to set athletes up for success.
"I was forceful, but I was fair," he explained. "Some people think success is winning. It's not, because everyone that comes in that door has to learn something whether they win or lose. It's how to compete and sometimes it's a lot easier to teach somebody how to win than it is to teach them how to lose. Once you lose and get over that factor - winning's easy."
There's been a lot of winners across the state, the country, and beyond.
"We've had people come in our door that have owned their own businesses, gone into the military, done numerous different careers, construction workers, engineers, firemen, police, and I think they all come back to the Club and know that this is a place that helped them start in their intuition of what they wanted to do," said Laura Liegois, who's on the Board of Directors for the Muscatine Boxing Club.
She added that a lot of that has to do with Ron, who she describes as the "heart of this club."
"He gives time - hours and hours and hours - to this community to make it a better place," she explained. "He cares so much that if somebody isn't coming up to the Club and if we don't see somebody within a week or so, he's contacting them saying - hey what's going on, what's happening. He makes each one of these people who join the Muscatine Boxing Club part of his family."
"I think they kind of consider me as their dad so I guess I gotta claim them," Ron laughed.
This father figure is also a strong supporter of the sport itself. Events like the Muscatine Boxing Club Fall Show in October 2017 brought in boxers from all over the Midwest. Ron said it gives his athletes something to look forward to and something to fight for.
"It's a very important part to the community, because most of the time - and I'm not saying anything bad about this sport - but a lot of kids come in here as misfits," he explained. "They're either too short for basketball, too big and round for another sport, and too slow at another one, so what we do is we take what they got and put some value to it."
For Ron, it's a lesson that lasts a lifetime and leaves a legacy.
"From what I've seen, you don't retire from here," he said. "You fade out. I used to think that I would leave in four or five years, then 15 years. Now, I've got 20-something years in, so I don't see retirement. What I see is doing like all the other better coaches. Sooner or later - we fade away."
Before he does, we want to showcase Ron Williams and the Muscatine Boxing Club as a 2018 Jefferson Awards Nominee.
The Jefferson Awards Foundation celebrates public service and the people in our communities who are changing lives. Every Wednesday in January and February, WQAD News 8 is introducing you to our 2018 Jefferson Awards Nominees. In March, we will announce our area's Finalist. That person gets to attend the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this summer and meet other Finalists from across the country.
To see who was nominated in our previous three seasons of the Jefferson Awards, click here.