I recently met Darren “Checkmate” Maciunski at a boxing event in Trenton, NJ. He at age 47 looked like he could go back into the ring tomorrow. He runs a Boxing and MMA Striking Skills facility in Toms River, NJ.
“Darren Maciunski has gone through a lot over the years. He was going down the wrong road. BUT GOD changed his life. Right now he is a role model for those who want to go down the same path. I know he has talked to many young people and told them what happened to him and that there is a better way. Several years ago there was a young man who needed help. My son knew his father and the father was really upset not knowing what to do. I found out about this and reached out to many people, including Darren. It didn’t take long for Darren to get back to him and put him on the straight and narrow. Most of the kids he trains look up to him not only because he was an outstanding boxer but because he has overcome demons that tried to take over him. As a fighter, he was all guts. He wasn’t afraid to fight anyone,” said Henry Hascup (Head of the NJ BHOF)
Maciunski defeated former IBF super lightweight champion Buddy McGirt putting him into retirement. In his next fight defeatedthe 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Meldrick Taylor who held the IBF World super lightweight and WBA welterweight titles. They fought at the Legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. Maciunskiwas 9-2 at the Blue Horizon.
Maciunski won his first 8 fights. He improved to 12-1 by defeating world title challenger Earl “The Pearl” Hargrove, 32-5, at the Blue Horizon. He was 13-2 when he defeated Taylor, 34-3-1, and McGirt, 73-5-1, in back to back fights. He won the IBF Inter-Continental title in Switzerland. Several of his losses were to world title challengers Kevin Kelly, 24-6-3, in Australia, Evans Ashira, 14-0, in Denmark and Silvio Branco, 32-2, in Italy along with IBF and WBA super welterweight world champion Fernando Vargas, 13-0.
“I have known Darren since when we were both young fighters turning pro in the early 90’s. I eventually inherited Darren from one of my old mentors Eddie Aliano. After Eddie passed away I became Darren’s cut-man for his last few fights. Now I work cuts for his fighters. Funny, how the circle of life keeps spinning. Darren was always s tough, well- schooled fighter. He was a natural and he is one hell of a good trainer and nice guy all around,” said Joey Eye (one of today’s best cut men).
Maciunski ended his career in Toms River, NJ, defeating Leo Edwards at the Ritacco Center. He came back after over 3 years to win this fight wanting to go out a winner and he did.It improved his record to 20-8 with 7 knockouts. He never took a back seat to anyone!
KEN HISSNER: Were you a Golden Glove champion in New Jersey?
DARREN MACIUNSKI: Yes. First I won in the Novice and twice in the open class in New Jersey.
KEN HISSNER: You fought in countries like Italy, Switzerland, Denmark and Australia. Do you have any stories that lead to any defeats?
DARREN MACIUNSKI: I have a lot of crazy stories I could mention which lead up to many of my defeats. It’s for the Grace of God I’m alive with the life I have today.
KEN HISSNER: What happened in the fight with Fernando Vargas?
DARREN MACIUNSKI: I got prematurely stopped in the sixth round. But it was a very good fight up to that point.
KEN HISSNER: You were 8-1 in New Jersey and 10-3 in Pennsylvania for an 18-4 record. Did you have a favorite place to fight in either or both of those states?
DARREN MACIUNSKI: It really didn’t matter but I enjoyed fighting in my hometown Toms River in my last fight. I got to travel to Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland and Australia.
KEN HISSNER: How are things going in your gym?
DARREN MACIUNSKI: Blessed, not lucky. I own a business that I love, teaching boxing, striking skills and self-defense. I teach classes seven days a week Monday through Friday 6pm to 9pm Saturday and Sunday 11am to 1pm. I make Checkmates boxing classes fun. I teach classes age 8 and up, male and female for anybody who wants to have a good time, get the best work out, while learning a skill.
KEN HISSNER: Thanks for taking the time to answer questions.
DARREN MACIUNSKI: Thank you so much and any further questions contact me at 732-300-4080, 2161 Whitesville Rd, Toms River, NJ 08057 and www.checkmatesboxing.com