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  • Writer's pictureNick Malone

A "Jumbo" Step Forward: A New Beginning for Floyd Cummings

Storied pro boxer Frank Bruno once said that Floyd "Jumbo" Cummings hit harder than anyone he ever faced. Now, with Association House, Floyd's ready to put up a new kind of fight.

No other story in professional boxing is quite like that of Floyd Cummings. After going pro at age 29-- far later than the average boxer's prime-- he became a notorious outsider figure against some of the biggest names in the sport.

After a year of straight wins, he eventually ended the run of World Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier with a historic draw. To this day, there's debate on whether it was Frazier's fight or celebrity status that saved him from a loss.

Floyd's reputation as a hard-hitting wild card wasn't the only thing that made him stand out. His amateur career began under unusual circumstances: he was scouted while serving a prison sentence and allowed to train and compete in anticipation of his release. During his early fights, he had to return to the Stateville Correctional Center right after the results were called.

Cummings reflects: "I don't believe I was born to be a professional. I just was in a tight spot and needed to come up out of there. I worked in the gym [at Stateville] and the warden told me: if you can box like you can lift weights, I might be able to get you out of the penitentiary."

33 years after his final pro fight, and 19 years after a battle with addiction and the widely criticized "three strikes law" placed him in the justice system again, Cummings was granted a new lease on life.

In 2023, after breathing difficulties landed him in a nursing home, Association House reached out to see if he was interested in transitioning somewhere more independent. His answer was a firm yes.

Now, just under a year later, Cummings lives in a newly constructed supportive living facility in Chicago's up-and-coming Bridgeport community. In his own private space, he's found time to relax and read books by his favorite authors-- Stephen King and Dean Koontz-- and dreams of buying a pickup truck to explore on his own.

“I’m looking forward to living the rest of my life. I want to do a lot of traveling. When I was in the joint, they’d take me outside to fight-- and I’ve been to places where, I’ve been there, but I don’t know how it really is because I was there to fight. You don’t have time to socialize. I want to see those places again."

Cummings found his new home with help from Association House's Comprehensive Class Member Transition Program (CCMTP), dedicated to relocating the thousands of individuals wrongly placed in nursing homes when they are physically and mentally capable of living independently in the community. Now that he's secured a place of his own, to say that Cummings values his independence is an understatement.

"Here, you've got your own domain. You set your own rules. If I want to run through the house naked, that's what I'll do!"

Reflecting on his life as he enters a new chapter, Cummings is grateful for his journey, and optimistic about what his future might hold now that he's found the support he needed to thrive.

"It wasn't all bad. It was a seesaw ride every now and then, but hey, what can I say? My life is the type of life where you grab the bull by the horns and hope it don't throw you."

Learn more about how Association House is working to support independent living in the community here.

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