Thomas Hepperle, Jr

Thomas Hepperle, Jr

USA Certified Boxing Coach

10 years experience in boxing


2017 Finalist Chicago Golden Gloves

About Coach

Hello everyone, Thomas here. Originally, I’m from Oak Park, IL. As a youth, I was pretty athletic and loved playing all the sports. My childhood home is close to the United Center. Growing up during the 80s/90s during Michael Jordan’s prime, this is where my usual choice in footwear stems from 😂 I slightly let myself go in my late teens - early twenties. But I recommitted myself to being active shortly after. After getting a degree from the Culinary Institute of Chicago and starting a career in restaurants I found being fit wasn’t only beneficial but necessary for longevity in that industry. My boxing journey began a decade ago but I’ll go into detail later. Fast forward to 2019-2020. We can all agree the coronavirus pandemic was a shock to the system. I lost my full-time job and my part-time gig as a trainer. Fortunately, I positioned myself well and I had help from good people in my life. So I was able to absorb the damage. When the dust settled I found myself in Iowa City. I have family ties here along with Cedar Rapids and Vinton. They suggested I stay here. I thought about it and it made sense. I had nothing going on in Chicago. Big city life may be appealing to most people. But I’ve been around it my whole life and honestly, I’m sick of it. So here I am trying to start a new life in Iowa City.

Turning Point

I got into boxing on a whim. On a freezing winter day in Chicago 10 years ago I decided to walk into a gym down the street from my apartment. I was always walking by and peeking in the window a little curious about what was going on in there. Cabin fever ultimately got the best of me. Little did I know what I was getting into. I was in decent shape, or so I thought. This was something else. A few weeks in I didn’t think I was gonna make it. But if nothing else I was determined to get my money’s worth from the 3-month membership. I dragged myself to class even though I didn’t feel like it. Soon I felt myself getting stronger. I loved that feeling and I was hooked. It became a major part of my life. There’s no way I would have dreamed I’d make it this far when I first started. Not many people can say they have a boxing career. Even if it’s just amateur. I’m definitely not claiming to be Roy Jones. I came up short sometimes. But I also have moments when in the ring that will be in my memory forever. This kind of training will obviously make you tough physically. But it’s the mental fortitude for me. Doing things you didn’t think you can do just pushes your mindset to a level that you can handle whatever hardships life throws at you.

Motivation & Passion

My coaching journey is something that defies convention. I’m more introverted and soft-spoken so that’s not the prototype. I got into it as a favor to Body Shot Boxing Club. They did so much for me so I thought it was right to help out when they needed someone to lead a class. I never had aspirations but I thought, why not? All the members knew me because they see me training all the time. I had zero experience and it showed. I was out of my element and I was horrible at first. Maybe no one said anything because they knew I could fight 😂 But I took it upon myself to get better. I was training alongside top amateurs, solid pros, and even world champs. I learned something from everyone I’ve practiced with and incorporated a little of each into my own method. I also had to improve as far as putting myself out and commanding a group. As an introvert that can be quite a challenge. I’m still a work in progress but coaching has helped me a great deal in that regard. I’ve adjusted here and there over the years but I think I’ve developed a strong program. During the pandemic, I was still working out every day. But I didn’t have anyone to box with. When I settled in Iowa City I needed something to do so I’m grateful to IB and Tierney for giving me a chance at Vibe. I was pretty rusty. Maybe not as bad as my very first day at Body Shot. But also not the best. I got more comfortable and really came into my own when we moved to our current location. I was fully able to put my vision of teaching boxing into action. IB and Tierney offered me the head coach position in February of 2022. Like I said I’m not really the “prototype”. I wasn’t even striving for it honestly. I was doing something I loved. But I guess it goes to show that things have a way of working out when you are true to yourself. It’s been a wild ride but I’m loving it. I’m not a boxing “lifer”. I didn’t start when I was a kid. But I’ve also taken it farther than most. So I can see it from both sides. If you want to keep it at a hobby level I understand. If you want to get more boxing-specific I can help you out there. Either way, it’s a great joy to watch people improve through consistency and hard work.

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