‘To know him was to love him’: Coach, manager of Baton Rouge boxer react to his death

Man shot, killed near BR nightclub was professional boxer

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Crime scene tape is still visible on North Street. Police say Baton Rouge boxer, Justin Thomas, was walking to his car from a nearby nightclub when he was shot and killed.

His coach and manger are remembering him for his kindness and involvement in the community, and are just trying to figure out why this happened.

“In this community, he’s very well known, inside the ring and out,” said Thomas’ coach and manager.

Baton Rouge boxer, Justin Thomas, trained often at Beat 2 Sleep Boxing Club on Florida Boulevard. One of his coaches, L.J. Morvant, and his manager, Derek Major, are in disbelief about his death.

“With a guy like that, when you know his personality, you have to think, this can’t be true, not like this,” said Morvant.

“I was hoping for mistaken identity or something like that, but as time went on, I realized it was real. It was true,” said Major.

Thomas competed in the super middle weight and light heavy weight divisions. He had two shots at the world title, according to his manager, and was also on the brink of making it even bigger.

“He was towards the end of his career, but he was going to make the best of it all. He had really good opportunities coming up,” said Major.

When a club closed at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3, Thomas was heading back to his car when he was shot numerous times. He died at the hospital.

“No one coach or one gym can claim Justin, but he was just one of those guys who loved boxing. He loved being in a gym. If he wasn’t coming here today, he was going to be somewhere. As long as he had his music and that bag, he was good to go,” said Morvant.

Thomas frequently helped out younger boxers.

Both his manager and coach describe him as extremely affectionate, and someone who always strived to make you feel welcome and special.

“The biggest thing, like I said, was just remembering who he was as a person. He’s the type of guy that lived a life where you don’t have to lie about him at his funeral. And he was just a good guy, and to know him was to love him. Everybody who met this guy truly loved him,” said Morvant.

Both the guys tell WAFB they've received calls from people in the boxing community across the state and country about the loss.

WFC founder and promoter Matt McGovern provided a statement following Thomas’ death.

“He was a sweet guy,” McGovern said of Thomas. “He was always welcoming, and had a big following because he was so able to connect with people.

“All of us at WFC will miss Justin, and our thoughts and hearts are with his family, his coaches, and his teammates,” said McGovern. “There are a lot of people in Baton Rouge, Houston and throughout the fight game that will be missing him.”

The Baton Rouge Police Department says it still don’t have a motive for this case and is hopeful those with information will come forward.

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