An interview with former IBF super-middleweight champion boxer, Caleb Truax.
By: Maria Hileman
Photography By: Jesse Kelley
It’s not every day you get the opportunity to sit down with a world-champion boxer. Any anxiousness I may have been feeling coming into this interview quickly fizzled when I met Osseo, Minnesota, native Caleb Truax. He greeted me with a huge smile and offered me an 8 Count IPA — the beer he created in partnership with Big Lake, Minnesota’s Lupulin Brewing.
You’d never know from his humbleness and calming energy that Truax has made a career of pummeling boxers in the ring. And quite an impressive career at that. Truax shocked the world when he defeated James DeGale in London for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight title. He entered that 2017 fight as the underdog but quickly rose to stardom in the boxing world.
For Caleb, the 8 count represents the determination it takes to stand up in the face of adversity, which is something he knows a thing or two about. Truax came from humble beginnings. He was raised by a single mother who had to shuttle her three kids from place to place. Sports were Truax’s escape from a life constantly on the move. It offered him an arena to compete in and a place to make friends.
I was shocked to learn that Truax never wanted to become a professional boxer. He basically wanted to be able to pay off his student loans and create a comfortable life for his family (he shares his days with his lovely girlfriend, Michelle, and their two adorable children, Gia and Camden). He told me the average professional boxer starts fighting at age 6. Truax was 20 when he started boxing. Fighters also typically compete in around 300 amateur fights before turning pro, and he did only 35. This all ties together in his personal mantra: “Cut no corners.” Truax started late in his career, so he didn’t have the luxury to cut corners. He had to commit to putting in the work and to outthink his opponents. He had to take the hard route in order to be successful so late in the game.
Truax was in college when he began boxing. He and his buddy decided to enter a Toughman Contest at CR’s Sports Bar in Coon Rapids. For $30, anyone could get in the ring and fight. His buddy got knocked out in the first round. Truax also faced defeat that night, but he left with a sense of excitement nonetheless. Luckily, Truax’s current and only coach, Tom Halstead, was there that night and encouraged him to train at Lyke’s Boxing Gym.
A determined Truax took a bus from the University of Minnesota every day to Anoka, 1.5 hours each way, to train after class. His Lyke’s family gave him the training and support to help him become an amateur fighter. He then transitioned into professional fighting (he met Michelle during his eighth pro fight) and became a True Cinderella Man after his mesmerizing defeat of DeGale.
So why beer? Truax had to hold down a job at the start of his career to keep things afloat. He got a job at MGM liquor store as a craft beer buyer and fell in love with the craft beer industry. His partnership with Lupulin Brewing started simply enough. He’d stop by for a beer before ice fishing trips with his friends and eventually got to know the brewers and employees. Just like Truax, the guys at Lupulin don’t cut corners. They like to do things the hard way … the right way. No shortcuts. The friendship propelled Lupulin to sponsor Truax in his fights. He started hosting his after-fight parties at the brewery. So the logical next step was a beer collaboration, and the 8 Count IPA was born. And after tasting it, I’d agree it’s a knockout.
8 count: The time a boxer has to prove they are ready to rumble again after being knocked down.
It was an honor to meet Truax, a world champion and overall stand-up guy. We at Lake and Company are all rooting for him and wish him continued success. Be sure to stop by Hotel Rapids to grab a pint of 8 Count IPA. You never know, you might even run into The Champ while you’re there.
Read more of our stories in Issue 22 of Lake and Company.