HAMMOND | Today, Marty Jakubowski will return to the place where people used to chant his name and stand in line for his autograph.
It was the glory years for local boxing and no name shone brighter than the kid from Clark who took his skills to the pinnacle of his sport.
"I was told that I boxed at the (Hammond) Civic Center 15 or 16 times," Jakubowski said. " know I never lost there and I always seemed to be able to pick my game up a notch. Those were good days to be in boxing."
Jakubowski, who got his start in boxing as a young kid working out at the Whiting Boxing Club, had a lot of good days. Three times he fought for major belts and was ranked more than once in the top 10 as a lightweight and his achievements have now put him in the Hammond Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the 2011 induction class
"It is really a thrill to be inducted into the Hammond Hall of Fame," Jakubowski said. "Boxing was good to me and I had a lot of fun and great times. It'll be nice to see a lot of my old friends there that night."
Jakubowski was a busy fighter with a record of 116-7-0 as a professional after an amateur career that spanned around 150 bouts.
"Boxing was something that I loved to do," Jakubowski said. "To be honest, I didn't know at the beginning how good I would be, but going into the (Whiting) club I found a lot of people who were dedicated to getting better. Just getting into the ring there made me a better fighter."
Whiting Boxing Club fighters, often under the guidance of gym founder Dennis Hardesty, did their tiny gym proud. Jakubowski, Gary Kirkland and Jack Callahan were among the fighters who fought for world championships.
Jakubowski fought for the WBO, WBC, and the WBA versions of the lightweight belt, but his shining moment came in July of 1994 when he defeated Anthony Boyle for the USBA lightweight title. He also many of the big names of the time, including the venerable Julio Cesar Chavez.
"Boxing was good to me," said Jakubowski, who graduated from Clark in 1987, the same year he turned professional. "Some of the things I enjoyed the most were getting into a van and traveling a long way for a fight. You get to know people well on crazy trips like that and I had some great times. It was a good time in my life."
Jakubowski, the kid from Whiting who traveled to exotic foreign locals in pursuit of his boxing dreams, credits Hardesty, promoters such as Fred Berns with assisting his career. He ended his professional career in 2005 fighting under Octavius James "One In a Million" banner.
"Dennis Hardesty is probably the best trainer this part of the state has seen," Jakubowski said. "And, Octavius (who died July 2009 at age 36) was good to me at the end of my career. All the trainers, promoters and boxers who helped me have my thanks."
This month, with his wife, brother, and many other family and friends in attendance, Jakubowski will take his place of honor among the other athletic legends that made Hammond such a vibrant sports town. Jakubowski is the head of parks in Whiting and is the father to three children.
"Life has been good to me," Jakubowski said. "I have a great wife and children and a job that I enjoy. And, boxing was so helpful in helping me achieve whatever success I have had in my life."