Cleveland businessman Allan Jones is being rewarded for his extensive financial contributions to varied athletic activities from the youth to college levels.
The founder and CEO of Check Into Cash has been named winner of the Fred Gregg Jr. Award given by the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame for significant contributions to sports.
Jones will be presented the award at the organization's annual banquet Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Tickets cost $35 and are available by calling 875-9282.
"This is the most prestigious award given by the Hall of Fame, and we feel Allan Jones is a most worthy recipient," said John Farr, chairman of the GCSHF board.
Jones will be one of seven award winners honored along with 22 inductees.
In 2001 he was the sole provider of the funds to build the Cleveland High School wrestling center, which was later named for his father, the late W.A. Jones. Allan Jones contributed nearly $900,000 to the project.
He wrestled at Cleveland High in the early 1970s, was most outstanding wrestler at the school in 1971 and most valuable in 1972. He was runner-up in the state wrestling tournament at 155 pounds in 1972. His son, Bailey, won the 160-pound state title in 2010.
Jones started the Cleveland-Bradley Kids Wrestling Club in 1990, and he gave $30,000 to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum in Iowa.
He donated $100,000 to the Bradley Central High School wrestling facility. Since 2000, Bradley and Cleveland have won 10 state championships.
"I couldn't be more proud that out of all the wrestling teams in Tennessee, our little town has finished first and second for the last five years," Jones said.
He has established many successful businesses in the past thirty-plus years. He has earned Cleveland's most prestigious business honor, the M.C. Headrick Free Enterprise Award, and is a member of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
He has been celebrated nationally and statewide for his business expertise. But his proudest accomplishment is his son's winning a state wrestling title.
"After he won, he was hugging everybody -- coaches, cheerleaders, teammates -- and he was coming toward me and I was expecting a big hug when he leaped into my arms," Jones said. "I was so proud of him, but I was totally not expecting him to jump. I ended up having back surgery, but because I had been with him and helped coach him for six years, in my mind, it was my best achievement."
The aquatic center at the University of Tennessee, a building toward which he contributed $4 million, is named in his honor.
He established a program in which high school graduates of Bradley, Cleveland and Walker may attend Cleveland State Community College, and he funded a project that planted trees at every school in Bradley County.
He also provided the funding for the renovation of Cleveland's downtown historic district and the capital for the building of the Virgil F. Carmichael addition to the public library.
Other honorees at the Feb. 27 banquet include Female Athlete of the Year Kristen Vredeveld of Baylor School, Male Athlete of the Year Joel Bradford of UTC, lifetime achievement winners Tommy Layne and Rita Fanning and Morgan-Morris award recipients David Barger and the late Kainen Boring.
Inductees include Frank Burke and Larry Simcox (baseball), Regina Kirk and Ed Odom (basketball), John Disterdick (boxing), Bill Emendorfer and Herman Weaver (football), Mickey McCamish (golf), Marsha Goodwin and Toby Silberman (officials/administration), Nancy Turner Powell and Ken Windsor (softball), Derold Millsaps (special category), Mark McCarter (sports media), Scott Ferguson and Jimi Flowers (swimming), Turner Howard and Scott Webb (tennis), Bill McMahan and Virgil Roberson (track and field) and Kenny Hill and Steve Logsdon (wrestling).