Zeke Ferguson wants to bring an Olympic gold medal in boxing home to North Denver. The 19-year old Berkeley native and North High alum might just have the punching pedigree to do it. “I feel like boxing is a good opportunity to put your all into it and work your butt off,” said Zeke. “You can get hurt and it shows when someone is not working hard.”
Zeke started boxing in eighth grade. His interest in the sport came as a bit of a surprise to his family, who has a history of basketball players. His father, Chris Ferguson, is the head hoops coach at Denver North High School, and his brothers were standouts on the court. Zeke played basketball and baseball his freshman year but decided to switch to boxing. “Boxing pushed me into my own lane to be able to do my own thing.”
Zeke’s decision to fight was hard on his mom. “I don’t think any mom wants to see her kid getting punched,” says his father. But mom is now at every fight, and dad, who was a flyweight in the day, taught Zeke the fundamentals in the family basement. “He knows how to keep me disciplined,” “says Zeke. I work out every day, Monday through Friday, and on the weekends I go run in the mountains. He taught me how to position my hands, feet and knees and how to use your jab. The jab is the most fundamental thing in boxing.”
All that training has paid off. Zeke graduated from his home basement to Hit Squad Boxing gym in Westminster. At 5’5” and 108 pounds he is a light flyweight but plans to move up to the 114- pound flyweight class. He spars with those in higher weight classes and has a mean left hook to the liver. His skills caught the attention of the Olympic Training Center which invited him there in just his fourth year as a fighter. “I remember being very nervous in my first fights. I couldn’t even talk. Now I’m comfortable and I’m dancing before my fights.”
Zeke wants to push his opponents to their limits. “My strengths for my weight class are my body shots,” says Zeke. “I feel like I’m strong for my weight class and I’ve done a lot of damage in my fights. I feel like my limits are a lot higher and my work ethic as well.” Dad says he’s a natural. “In a short period of time it’s amazing how good he is and the potential he has.”
Zeke already has a string of accomplishments including four national titles and a #3 ranking in his weight group from USA Boxing. He made it to the national Golden Gloves final and the 2019 Youth Olympic Boxing team. His overall goal is to go to the 2024 Olympic games in Los Angeles and then turn pro. “I feel like every great fighter who has left a mark has started at the Olympics from Muhammad Ali to Floyd Mayweather.”
Zeke aspires to work his boxing around a career in firefighting. He comes from a family of Denver firefighters. His grandpa, Richard Montoya, died in the line of duty in 2006. His father, brothers and uncle are all firefighters. First, Zeke needs to finish his degree at Metropolitan State University where he is an entrepreneurship major and Denver Public Safety Cadet.
Zeke is determined to not only be a championship fighter but a neighborhood influencer. “I want to uplift the community in North Denver and bring an Olympic Gold back to the neighborhood. It’s never been done before and that’s my goal. I’m proud of where I’m from and I want to bring that level of success back to my neighborhood.”
Vicky Collins is a freelance television producer and journalist with a diverse portfolio that includes network news, cable programming, Olympic sports, corporate and non-profit videos. Vicky has created a Facebook Community called Bucket List Community Cafe which is a digital news site for Denver’s Northside.
*Editors Note: The print edition of this article misspelled Floyd Mayweather’s name. We regret the error.