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Odenton boxer remembered for dedication, ‘larger-than-life’ personality

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Posted at 9:33 PM, Jun 19, 2024

ODENTON, Md. — Boxing is not a team sport. But with all the people in Isaiah Olugbemi's corner, you'd be forgiven to think it is.

Olugbemi had just returned home from Michigan. He'd just won in a national boxing tournament. But his chance at a career in the ring ended Monday night when someone shot him not long after he returned to his hometown.

A local small gym, like Odenton Fitness, is a community. Folks work out there every day and often see the same people. Gymgoers, including the friend WMAR spoke with on Wednesday night, have been reeling since that news.

"He would run in the mornings, work out with weights later in the day, and then at night he would have boxing," Jim Hook, who told WMAR he'd known Olgubemi for 4 years, recalled Wednesday.

"If he wasn't in the ring training, his son was in his arms," Hook continued.

It was at Odenton Fitness where Hook met Isaiah, seeing up close his dedication and infectious disposition.

"He had a very larger-than-life personality," said Hook. "Wherever you were in this gym, you'd know he was here. Because of his laugh. You could hear it everywhere. Very boisterous laugh. He was funny. He was just a good person to be around."

Jim attended several of Isaiah's fights, taking photos at bouts over the last few years.

"I saw him fight four times, and he won every time," Hook added. So every time I saw him, he was like, 'Hey, I got a fight. You've got to be there. You're my good luck charm.' He would have those connections with just about everybody."

Olugbemi, 27, was shot to death on Monday night in Odenton. Within a day of his murder, police arrested a 36-year-old man, Nicholas Francis Xavier Giroux, and charged him with first- and second-degree murder.

RELATED:Police say man murdered in Odenton Monday night was targeted

"Yesterday was just absolute shock, and I'm still really honestly quite... I haven't processed this yet if I'm being 100% candid with you," Hook told WMAR.

"It was pretty quiet in here last night. There weren't a lot of people. The people that were here—it wasn't a lot of work getting done. It was a lot of camaraderie and talking to people, and commiserating together. And trying to process this, because this still doesn't make sense 48 hours later," Hook continued.

Hook wants Olugbemi to be remembered for the proud father he was and for his unbeatable work ethic, which younger boxers looked up to.

"The last text I sent to him after he won the national Golden Gloves was like, 'Man, I'm so proud of you.' And I am; I'm still proud of all he accomplished. And I was just glad to know him as a person, too; I consider him a friend, and I miss him terribly."

Giroux's bail hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning in Annapolis.