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Detroit Lakes' Chris Holt dishes out some punishment to Nick Whiting of Bemidji at an outdoor boxing match at what was then The Corner Catina in July of 2004. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Final bell

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sports Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

After 23 years, 26 professional boxing fights, countless jabs and uppercuts -- Detroit Lakes' Chris Holt is stepping out of the squared circle for good.

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Holt is officially retiring from his pro boxing career and he's going out on his terms, finishing with a final record of 16-9-1 with nine knockouts.

"I just felt it was time," Holt said of his decision to retire. "I will miss entertaining the crowd the most, though. I started to enjoy entertaining people fighting -- in a controlled environment.

"I was always an aggressive and exciting fighter and there was no backing down in fights, even in the fights I lost."

Holt's fighting career brought him all over the country -- and world, for that matter.

He broke into the professional ranks after a stellar Golden Gloves career in which he netted two Upper Midwest championships and two Minnesota State boxing titles in 150 total amateur fights.

His good friend and boxing mentor, Marcus Rhode, helped Holt cut his teeth in the pro ring, which began in Mahnomen at Shooting Star Casino as a 27-year-old.

It was soon after that Holt wasn't just boxing on undercards, he was fighting for gold.

Holt slowly climbed the ranks and started getting a reputation as an aggressive and hard-hitting boxer.

His style attracted good crowds, especially at his home ring at Shooting Star -- the venue where he started and ended his career.

The DL fighter was a perfect 5-0 at Shooting Star, including one of his best fights of his career, which ultimately, was his last.

His split decision over J.J. Corn capped an electric fight between the two and it's the one Holt credits as being his best.

"That one was probably my biggest win," Holt said of his win over Corn. "It was a war and I'm happy it came in front of my friends and family."

Holt's biggest fight came in front of a national crowd when he fought Olympic gold winner Andre Ward in San Jose, Calif.

The fight was broadcasted pay per view, as Ward took the fight by TKO.

Holt wasn't going to be denied a title during his pro reign, though.

He captured the Minnesota Middleweight Championship belt in 2004 and held it through 2005, when he was defeated by Butch Hajicek in Fargo in a thrilling main card bout.

A fight for the IBO Intercontinental title brought Holt to Denmark, where it was televised on pay per view Europe.

"That was a totally different atmosphere with around 3,000 fans watching (in the arena)," Holt said.

With boxing, also came some damage.

A few years ago, Holt was in a brawl with former world champion Kenny Ellis. A hard straight right hand by Ellis shattered Holt's nose, one of the times he got hit hardest.

"The ref stopped the fight after that punch and one of the trainers just pulled (my nose) back in place," Holt said.

The injury Holt suffered was finally fixed a couple of weeks ago, when doctors grafted some bone and cartilage from his skull to his nose. It was a four and a half surgery.

It wasn't necessarily fighting for titles which motivated Holt -- it was entertaining the crowd which pushed him.

"I just went out there and let it all hang out," Holt said.

"But now I am 100-percent sure my boxing days are done. I'm glad I can walk out on my own terms and I can't wait to move onto my next chapter of life."

That chapter will include spending more time with his seven-year-old daughter Codie, as well as working as a trainer for the Reservation Tribal Community in Mahnomen.

But Holt will maintain a presence in the sport of boxing -- just teaching it, not fighting in the ring.

He runs the Lakes Area Boxing Club in DL, which trains young boxers for Golden Gloves competition.

Holt is a registered Golden Gloves referee, as well.

"I'm just walking away from the fighting part, I will enjoy training other boxers," Holt said.

Boxing gave the DL native something he enjoyed throughout life, starting at the age of 12.

It satisfied his thirst for competition and it kept him motivated to be a workout warrior, which keyed his success.

"My training was huge," said the 35-year-old Holt said. "In every fight, I was going to be in top shape. As I grew older, I became wiser as a fighter, I was more strategic in the ring.

"I feel I can still compete with guys 10 years younger than me, but I just have to put in more time training. That's one thing I won't miss, cutting weight and always having to stay in shape."

So there will be no more body shots, knockouts, giving and suffering broken noses or black and blue eyes.

It was a career he can look back on and be proud that he left it all inside that pro boxing ring.

"I have no regrets," Holt concluded. "I had a great time."

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