Local Jiu-Jitsu gym owner turns Olympic dream into her life’s work

Local Sports

JOPLIN. Mo. — Amber Jones is a fighter. Sure, you can measure that in how she performs on the mat, but she’s a fighter in that her love for JiuJitsu can never be broken. When her biggest dream didn’t come to fruition she found a way to turn that dream of reaching the Olympics into her life’s work.

“It’s intense,” Jones said. “You have to dedicate one hundred percent of your life to the sport.”

Jones graduated from Joplin High School and has been involved with Judo since 2011 when she went on to the University of Kansas following a scholarship for the United States Marine Corp. She carries quite an experienced background as she is also currently serving in the Missouri National Guard.

She’s the very definition of what it means to be dedicated. She once quit her job in Memphis and lived on people’s couches all to pursue the highest point in sport. She’s traveled far and wide across the world from Sweden to Brazil to make a name for herself. A chance at the top. An opportunity to show that she was built for this.

“You don’t see Judo players on the Wheaties box,” Jones joked. “So we always have to just fork out a ton of money and go into tons of debt to be able to make it to these tournaments. And I had some funding support, Missouri helped a couple things, and I had some people that donated money.”

“But just going all in and having that commitment to go, ‘I’m going to do it, one hundred percent, that’s it.'”

A black belt holder, two-time national bronze and World Masters Championship silver medalist, Jones once climbed as high as third in the national Judo rankings. But a bad knee injury derailed her plans of reaching the Olympics. And just like that, it became a matter of ‘what’s next?’

The commitment never left. Once the thrower now turned instructor in the place where she first stepped foot on the mat. Jones runs her own gym in her hometown and the dream is still there. It’s just a matter of helping others reach theirs.

“It’s a phenomenal sport,” Jones said. “It’s a lifelong sports. It’s kind of hard to play softball the rest of your life.”

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