Tom Yankello has been in the corner of four world champions, two world title contenders and 16 amateur world titleholders. These numbers measure his success as an elite boxing trainer.
Nonetheless, the gaudy figures he generates on the internet might be a harbinger of hope for the sport’s future.
Yankello has been working long hours to prepare six-time world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. for Saturday’s megabout against Mike Tyson. Through it all, the Mars resident has continued to operate the “World Class Boxing Channel” on YouTube and his boxing-based Instagram account out of his Ambridge gym.
This digital one-two punch is doing its part to reignite interest in a pastime that has waned in popularity for decades.
“Boxing used to be so dominant in the U.S., but like baseball, its following has declined,” Yankello said. “I want to save boxing. I want to reach a lot of people and teach it to the world.”
In a little less than two years, Yankello’s web series has attracted more than 5,628,780 views and 94,300 subscribers. In the same span, his Instagram account has accumulated more than 43,000 followers.
Both platforms feature 176 videos with titles that include “Baiting the Jab,” “The Right Uppercut for the Knockout” and, fittingly, “How to Punch Like Mike Tyson.”
Instruction is offered to fighters of all ability levels. Yankello draws satisfaction in knowing his segments can be shared, studied and rewatched in perpetuity.
“Boxing used to have a lot of good teachers, but a lot of them have died off,” he said. “I feel teaching the fundamentals of the sport has seriously declined, and there is so much bad information out there. I want people to know that teaching fundamentals are key.”
“The World Class Boxing Channel” is co-operated with former pro boxer Joe Divosevic, who initially ran it under the moniker “Fist and Fitness.”
Divosevic’s decision to make Yankello the face of the channel made sense.
In addition to Jones Jr., Yankello has been a cornerman for IBF lightweight champion Paul Spadafora, IBA super featherweight world champion Monty Meza-Clay and IBC lightweight world champion Verquan Kimbrough. He came close to helping IBF heavyweight challenger Calvin Brock and WBO cruiserweight challenger Brian Minto win world titles.
Beaver Falls welterweight Kiante Irving (7-0, 7 KOs) is Yankello’s most recent protege.
Irving touts Yankello’s free videos as elite-level instruction.
“With everything he’s achieved, YouTube and social media help people learn about Tom, and it’s connecting him to a lot of people,” Irving said. “It helps them realize that he’s one of the greatest trainers of all time.”
Kimbrough also knows Yankello’s reputation looms large. His videos have attracted interest from fighters across the globe.
“When it comes to trainers, especially in Western Pennsylvania, Tom is like a god,” he said. “Tom will get you to that next level.”
Yankello plans to help Jones Jr. take care of business Saturday. Afterward, he will refocus on some attainable long-term goals.
“I want to train multiple world champions, starting with Kiante,” Yankello said. “I also want to have the No. 1 YouTube channel for boxing.”
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