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Sunday, May 19, 2024
Former UW-Madison basketball player Trent Jackson (left) founded ROUGH Sportswear in 2009, and the company will host his second annual ROUGH run April 10.

Former UW-Madison basketball player Trent Jackson (left) founded ROUGH Sportswear in 2009, and the company will host his second annual ROUGH run April 10.

Former UW basketball player gives back to Madison community

Trent Jackson has stayed constantly involved with the UW-Madison community since he first arrived on campus in the fall of 1985. He has been a teacher, an entrepreneur and a board member and director of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, but his first role was as a student athlete on the men’s basketball team.

Jackson played 99 games over the course of four seasons, and when he finished his career in 1989 he was the third-leading scorer in UW-Madison basketball history. His athletic eligibility ended in 1989, and Jackson began playing abroad.

Between international seasons, he returned to Madison in the summers to take classes and inch towards his credit total needed to graduate, finally earning his degree in 1994.

Following his basketball career, Jackson spent a brief period in Miami, Fla., where he worked as a substitute teacher before returning to Madison in 1998 as a full-time teacher. During the next decade, he earned his MBA and worked for the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County in several different roles.

After these positions, he started working on an athletic clothing company called ROUGH Sportswear. He founded the company in the spring of 2009, and it grew quickly, earning its big break in 2012 when it sponsored boxer Daniel Ponce De León in a fight that was viewed by more than 20 million people. 

Following the fight, he has received offers to purchase ROUGH for more than $1 million from several companies, including Adidas.

Though the company became almost immediately lucrative, Jackson said ROUGH has stayed true to the meaning of its name, as it is an acronym for “reach out, you get help” and “reach out, you give help.”

He said since the founding of the company a priority has been to give back.

“If there is anything that ROUGH is about, it’s second chances,” Jackson said.

In the past four years, ROUGH has given more than $50,000 of unrestricted donations to numerous local charities in Madison, including the Dane County Rape Crisis Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County.

ROUGH Sportswear will hold their second annual 5k run-and-walk to raise money for Porchlight Homeless Solutions. Last year the event raised roughly $2,000, and Jackson said he hopes to raise about three times that amount this year at the April 10 event.

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Jackson encouraged everyone to attend the event, even those who dread the idea of exercising.

“If you can’t spend 30 minutes suffering a little bit, either walking or running, then [you should] think about those who live in those elements,” Jackson said. 

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