Allan Jones Donates 1 Million To Build Wrestling Facilities

By Sandra Rowland | May 23, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
Cleveland Businessman Allan Jones' passion for the sport of wrestling has resulted in contributions of more than $1 million to city and county school systems to finance the construction of high school wrestling facilities. Ground was broken Monday (May 21) for a modern $896,000 wrestling facility on the Cleveland High School campus, Jones alma mater. Earlier, Jones contributed more than $100,000 toward the building of a wrestling facility at Bradley Central High School. He joined other donors and county school officials recently for groundbreaking. Jones' contribution of $896,000 to Cleveland City schools marks the largest contribution given by an individual to the city system. The City and County donations exceed $1 million. Jones was joined Monday by family members who helped him break ground for the facility. His mother, Mrs. Virginia S. Jones, his wife, Janie, daughters Courtney and Abby and sons Will and Bailey were on hand for the groundbreaking. Sisters, Amy Banks and Anne Jones also joined the family. Chase Construction and TWH Architects are in charge of building and design. The building will be called the Jones Wrestling Center and the inside arena will be named in honor of Jones' father, the late William A. (Bill) Jones. Completion is expected in September in time for the first day of wrestling practice October 1st, 2001. In a letter to Dr. Rick Denning, Jones said he is making the contribution because of what the sport of wrestling has meant to him since his teen years at CHS. "I have a strong passion for wrestling," said Jones. "To me, it is not just a sport. Unlike team sports such as football, basketball and baseball, wrestling is an individual achievement sport. Two wrestlers take to the mat and only one walks off the victor. It takes determination, discipline and character to come out ahead in this sport. I have seen it first hand as a driving force in building character and discipline in my former classmates who are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and government leaders today," he said. Jones gives much credit to Duane Shriver, one of his former coaches, "who taught his wrestlers much more than the sport of wrestling. He valued it as a sport to build character and discipline in preparation for life. I truly appreciate what he has meant to me over the years - and much of it started on the wrestling mat." Jones said he will honor his dad, the late Bill Jones, with the building of this facility. "My Dad never missed one of my wrestling matches. He was a busy man, but he always managed to get to my matches." Jones was instrumental in beginning a Kids Wrestling Club in 1990. Today, young wrestlers who began the sport in the club are walking off the mat as state champions in high school. "We are seeing our first Kids Club wrestlers competing and winning," Jones said. "He delights in tracing the history of the sport of wrestling in this community, going back to the days at CHS when it was a new sport and then following it through today when both Cleveland and Bradley Central High School are producing state champions. Jones financed the beginning of Kids Club and today his sons Will and Bailey are wrestling enthusiasts. Though Jones is a CHS graduate, he has also been instrumental in both schools, helping finance wrestlers to wrestling camps. "I can recall the early days of wrestling at Cleveland High when our program was struggling, then in 1972 it began building momentum. Then in 1981, Coach Schriver led CHS to its first state championship. Both Bradley and Cleveland has since held numerous state championships. I think Cleveland is positioned to overtake Chattanooga as the wresting strong hold of the state. And with this new facility, it is my hope it will help them achieve that goal." Jones wrestled in the early days of CHS wrestling, being voted outstanding wrestler in 1971, most valuable wrestler in 1972 and runner-up at 155 lbs in 1972. His love of the sport and support of high school wrestling programs has not wavered since those teenage years. Jones says he is committed to wrestling "at all levels." He frequently travels to wrestling events in other states and has on occasion hosted the Olympic wrestling athletes in Cleveland, treating them to rides down the Ocoee River. "I am proud that the wrestling facility is being developed at my alma mater. I am confident that it will impact many lives in a positive way, just as this sport has impacted my own life." In addition to the wrestling donations, Jones has committed more than $50,000 to plant trees on area school campuses and city streets. This Spring, more than 300 trees were planted on each city and county school campus. The trees are authentic trees from the American Forest of Historic & Famous Trees and are direct descendants of trees planted in the 1800s by the late John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Jones has financed the planting of thousand of trees in this community over the years, including the trees surrounding the Bradley County Courthouse, trees lining Centenary Avenue and soon he will provide trees to help line streets around Lee University campus.