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Real Retirement: This accidental influencer became a role model with middle-aged dad advice

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Joe Buckner has two passions: boxing and being a role model for young boys and men who may not have a dad.

He started on social media almost by accident, posting now and then on TikTok as @joebuckner. About a year ago, Buckner said he became more “intentional” about his posts and began talking to young men about life and life lessons.

“‘What your dad should have taught you’ really took off,” Buckner, 47, said. “I’m a person who grew up without a dad but had positive male role models. We’re all uniquely qualified to talk to who we once were.”

“As a dad and a granddad, there’s people I wanted to serve. How to balance a checkbook, how to shave your face — what a dad around would find time to do. I really wanted to reach out to young men,” Buckner said. 

His audience is 85% male, with the biggest group being 18 to 35-year-olds. 

Buckner, 47, also owns three boxing gyms in Colorado, which he sees as another way to serve as a role model.

Read: This retiree traveled solo to Bali, Iceland and Patagonia — ‘Women can live vibrant, full lives after 50’

“Boxing is as much as what is going on between your two ears as anything. I can help a lot of people through boxing and fitness,” Buckner said.

How did you get into this world of being an influencer? 

I sort of fell into it, my following grew organically on TikTok and then Instagram from me posting consistent, valuable content

Why do you do this? 

I am trying to share information that I wished I had when I was a young man with no father.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be an NFL Football player and a filmmaker

What age did you used to think was “old?” What do you think now? 

40. Now, 80

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it? 

I have no bucket list. I do all of the things that I want to do in this life.

Who was your role model(s) growing up? 

Dick Dunn, Earlie Thomas, Martin Luther King Jr, Raymond Hale, Malcolm X

What’s the best thing about middle age? 

I would say the best thing is having a better understanding of life and developing more empathy as I age.

What’s the worst? 

I can’t do a lot of the things physically that I used to be able to do and my eyes aren’t as strong.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about midlife? 

That you are old and boring and life is over.

How do you want to die? In your sleep or cliff-diving or ….? 

I don’t want to die. Legends never die.

What’s your biggest vice or bad habit? 

Eating sugar.

Where’s your happy place in the world? 

Anywhere that my family and friends are.

Best advice you’ve ever received – and who gave it to you? 

The one thing that no one can ever take from you is your ability to choose. So every day you get to choose the life that you want to live.

What’s the best and worst thing you’ve ever done with money?

Best thing is anytime I’ve used money to help someone out. Worst thing was making an $8,000 down payment on a car that I didn’t need. 

(This interview was edited for space and style.)

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