The fighting spirit of 47-year-old Greenport dad and cancer survivor Jeffrey Nockelin never gave in Friday night.
Unfortunately, his body did.
After three months of training and preparation, the father of two children finally got his chance to fight in an amateur tournament at the famous Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. But just 30 seconds into his first fight, Mr. Nockelin injured his knee by tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and was forced out of the tournament.
“As quick as it started, it was over,” Mr. Nockelin said in an interview Monday. “All that training and everything for nothing.”
Mr. Nockelin liked his chances against his opponent, but hurt his knee after stepping back to throw his first punch.
“My foot sunk in because the floor in the ring was pretty soft and my knee and body twisted,” he said. “I just couldn’t imagine it being over that quick.”
The referee noticed his injury right away, but Mr. Nockelin — hopping on one leg to shake off the pain — said he could tough it out.
When Mr. Nockelin and his opponent came together one more time, his knee gave out again and he tumbled to the mat.
That’s when the referee called off the fight.
“I know I could do so much in the ring,” Mr. Nockelin said. “I just wasn’t able to go show it.”
Mr. Nockelin had been nursing an injury in one of his knees before the fight. But it was the other knee — which had been reconstructed years ago following a similar ACL injury — that was re-injured Friday.
“There’s a reason for everything,” he said. “I’m having a hard time figuring out what the reason was for this.”
Now Mr. Nockelin, who owns a personal training gym in Greenport called the “School of Hard Nocks,” must have surgery to repair his knee again. He’s unsure how long it will take to get back on his feet.
The fight is now “unfinished business,” Mr. Nockelin said, who’s now wearing a leg brace. Part of him wants to get right back in the ring to finally show off his boxing talents.
But, for now, he’s turning his attention to post-operation recovery.
“I’m gonna come back and I’m gonna get it back to being strong and healthy again,” he said.
Most importantly, Mr. Nockelin is trying to stay positive and prove himself once again.
“I’m getting a little sick of these challenges,” he joked. “But I’ll take it on.”