Tony didn’t choose to be an underdog.
Privilege and entitlement weren’t an option for him, not since his great grandfather, who was born in Poland fled his war-torn home and immigrated to the United States. His great grandfather worked his way from the gritty streets of Chicago, to a few farms in Wisconsin before settling in northeast Minneapolis.
Tony and his family lived in a trailer park in North Branch until his parents divorced and separated when he was five years old.
Then the trailer park wasn’t an option anymore.
With the last name Grygelko and two older sisters, Tony was conditioned to be tough, and he came home with his first bloody lip from a fight when he was 5 years old.
Young Tony wasn’t the best athlete, and he wasn’t the biggest puncher. But he discovered something about himself: Deep in him was a spirit that refused to accept defeat, a tenacity others simply couldn’t match. He prided himself on being a “grinder,” utilizing his always exceptional physical conditioning and mental toughness to wear an opponent down.
He thrived as a wrestler, and he joined the respected program at Augsburg University. But a broken elbow derailed his career. He then concentrated his efforts on boxing, eventually becoming the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves champion. After turning pro, Tony racked up a 5-2 record before he broke his arm and elbow landing a left hook in a fight. Multiple surgeries resulted with him needing 15 screws and a plate inserted to heal him — and his fighting career was deemed over.
Though his dreams in the sport ended prematurely, Tony learned he had a nose for identifying talent in fighters and the methodical mindset to help them develop and advance in their career. Former boxing heavyweight contender Scott Ledoux recognized Tony’s hustle and resourcefulness, and he called upon him to help organize a boxing card in Minnesota.
He founded Seconds Out Promotions in 2005, and he worked with local fighters such as Anthony Bonsante and Matt Vanda to put together some of the state’s most successful boxing events ever.
Around that time, he also contracted his first boxer as a promoter, a late entrant into the sport.
His name was Caleb Truax.
Fight by fight, Tony developed the former baseball and football player into a boxer known for his athleticism, versatility and intelligence. “Tony has always come through in a big way for me,” Caleb says. “He was really good at finding the right opponents for me.”
Tony recognized opportunities Caleb couldn’t even see.
Within one year, Caleb lost to top contenders Daniel Jacobs and Anthony Dirrell. So he was reluctant when Tony told him about another high-profile opponent. James DeGale was an Olympic champion, a fast-rising star in the super middleweight division.
“To be honest, I was a little bit weary, because he was considered the best guy in the division at the time,” Caleb says. “I was leery of taking it, because I didn’t feel that great the previous fight.”
Tony, though, insisted Caleb matched up well with DeGale — then Caleb shocked the world!
Caleb battered DeGale in his hometown of London and earned a majority draw, winning the IBF super middleweight championship.
“He's been there from Day 1,” Caleb says. “Tony has always stepped up, and he always goes above and beyond to make things happen for me. He always has my best interests at heart and that’s rare in boxing.”
Tony is married to Katie Lyke, one of the daughters of Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Ron Lyke. Katie and Tony have two children, Jack and Ava, and live in Circle Pines.
As Caleb’s profile has grown, so has Minnesota’s — and Tony’s played a critical part.
"He’s done more for the Minnesota boxing market than anyone else, especially over the last 10 years,” says Luis DeCubas, a legendary promoter who has worked with 22 world champions. "He’s very good at what he does, being as young as he is.”
Tony has preferred to work in the background, putting his boxers in the spotlight before himself. But the time has come for him to step out of the shadows.
That is why Seconds Out Promotions is now Tony G Presents.
Integrity — Tony abides by the highest standards of professional behavior and ethics. “It’s hard to find guys like him in the boxing world,” legendary promoter Luis DeCubas says, “where his word is his bond.”
Hard work — Tony simply will not be outworked. He pounds the pavement to sell tickets to shows, and he works with an assortment of boxing luminaries. “In a boxing world full of wannabes and hangers-on, Tony is a guy actually getting the work done for his fighters,” says Jay Deas, the trainer for heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. “He’s not a big, flashy guy who will tell you everything and deliver nothing, like a lot of guys. He’s the real deal.”
Mindset — Tony can see the big-picture, overseeing the development of fighters and their careers. But he also has an insider’s view, as an ex-fighter himself. “He’s the perfect guy to be with,” DeCubas says. “He’s a fighter, so he knows what it takes to get up every morning and train and get hit. But at the same time, he’s young, got energy, well-connected in the boxing world and knows how to get boxers to the top.”
They Said It
Joe Quiambao, founder Split-T Management: “Tony is a very smart man, and he’s a big guy in this boxing world. Tony is a true professional. He says what he’s going to do, and does what he says.”
Luis DeCubas, legendary boxing promoter: “He is, without a doubt, the top promoter in the Midwest. He’s young, he’s got energy, and he’s well-connected in the boxing world and knows all the players. He knows how to get boxers to the top.”
Jay Deas, trainer for heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder: “He’s not a big, flashy guy who will tell you everything and deliver nothing, like a lot of guys. He’s the real deal. There’s a lot better talkers in the world than me and Tony. But who can actually get things done on a realistic level, Tony is the guy. I can see why guys get turned on by guys who talk a big game. Tony is maybe too modest, but he can do a lot more for people than the big talkers can. In a boxing world full of wannabes and hangers-on, Tony is a guy actually getting the work done for his fighters.”