He was born in Diana, West Virginia, the son of a elementary school teacher and a Baptist pastor. He was my cousin John’s best friend, both were four years older than me so I was always the tagalong. Even before he and John shipped off to West Virginia University, out into the world to become accomplished and successful, they were the kind of guys I wanted to be. My cousin would go on to become an endodontist with his own successful practice, his best friend a Hollywood actor, screenwriter, and director. They were just two Webster County boys from families no better off than anybody else around town. Their courage was infectious. They were dreamers. And that’s the thing about hanging around dreamers.
I was just about to enter my first year of graduate school at Marshall University when he made his network television debut. I can’t quite explain it but that was the point in my life when I truly started believing in my dream of becoming a writer. If he could make it, I could make it. And now here we are. One of us in California and the other in New York. “We can’t straddle the boat and the dock with our two feet,” he once told me. “Sometimes we just need to see someone jump in the boat and go down the river. That’s all I did,” he added. True words. Perhaps even truer for kids from economically downtrodden Appalachian towns like ours.
You’ve seen him on the big screen in films such as “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Law Abiding Citizen.” He’s the star of the terrifying horror franchise “The Collection.” You know him from popular television series such as “Criminal Minds,” “The Walking Dead,” and USA Network’s recent breakout hit “Shooter.” He is the writer and director of independent films such as “The Hunted” and the upcoming opioid-epidemic drama “Back Fork.” Folks around my way simply know him as Josh. In anticipation for the release of “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym,” I decided to check in with my longtime friend, Webster County, West Virginia’s hometown movie star, Josh Stewart.
The opening scene in “12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym” takes place at Simon’s Gym in Morgantown, West Virginia. I hear you spent some time boxing at Simon’s Gym during your days at West Virginia University. Care to share a few memories from Morgantown’s boxing dungeon?
Rumor has it that you’ve also spent some time training at the slightly more famous Wild Card Gym in Los Angles, California (where legendary trainer Freddie Roach works with world champion boxers such as Manny Pacquiao). What brought you to Wild Card? Tell us about the experience.
You had just joined the cast of NBC’s Third Watch when my father officially opened the doors to Lo’s Gym. If there had been a Lo’s Gym in Webster County when you were coming up, what are the chances that you’d have been in that ring working the mitts with my father?
My motivation for writing this book was to show the world what life is like for young men in our neck of the woods (Webster County, West Virginia). I hear that you recently shot a film in the area. Tell us about your upcoming “Back Fork” project.
Now for the million dollar question. I’m going to need you to put on your director’s cap for this one. If we turn this book into a movie, who should be cast to play Mike “Lo” Snyder?
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