An Exclusive Interview With Jack Hillier
By Henry Walter
Cyclone Promotions’ rising star Jack Hillier moved to 3-0 (1 KO) last Saturday with a technical knockout win over Kamil Jaworek. Shorty after the fight I caught up with Jack to discuss his amateur background and his current progression in the professional ranks.
Henry: Hi Jack, thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions.
What made you want to start boxing and how old were you when you first competed?
Jack: I originally started boxing for fitness at the age of 10. I started primarily to help strengthen up as I was a keen footballer at the time. However I loved the sport and started competing alongside playing football, having my first fight at the age of 11. Eventually I quit football so I could put all of my time and focus into boxing.
H: Can you tell us a bit about your amateur background? Which club did you box for and how many fights did you have?
J: I started off boxing for Milbank ABC before moving to Titchfield ABC. However it wasn’t until moving to Southampton ABC, at the age of 14, that I began taking it seriously and finding success thanks to the hard work put in by the coaches Gary White and Kenny smart among others. I boxed for them for the rest of my amateur career having 62 fights in total.
I was also lucky enough to be part of the England talent pathway programme and the Great Britain emerging talent programme. I boxed for GB in various tournaments such as the Junior World Championships and the Sven Lange Memorial tournament where I won gold and best youth boxer.
In my final couple of seasons as a senior boxer my aim was to win the senior ABA’s and at the age of 18 I made it to the semis before losing to the winner, I was then selected to box for England in the senior tri-nations, the next year at the age of 19 I made it to the final where I lost in a close 3-2 split decision in a fight which me and my coaches felt I had won.
H: During your amateur career you won the Junior ABA’s and later claimed a silver medal in the GB Championships. Can you tell us about your experiences during those tournaments and what it meant to you to do so well?
J: I believe it set me up well for the pro’s as boxing at a high level as an amateur prepares you for the big fights as a pro as its something you’ve already been through, fighting under pressure in a big tournament or boxing abroad. It allows you to deal with the pressure of all your friends and family being there to support you and you can just focus on your boxing and not let that have an effect.
H: How did you come to turn pro and was it something you always planned on doing?
J: Turning pro was always an aspiration of mine however I would say I never planned on turning professional until the age of around 23. I decided to turn professional with a push from my amateur coach Gary White who felt it was right for me to turn over.
H: You’ve made a very positive start to your pro career, how have you found the transition from amateur to pro?
J: I found the transition challenging at first but I’ve worked hard to make those adjustments and slow things down. I found the biggest difference is the mentality, about always being in safe correct positions to throw your shots and not getting caught with anything clean, whereas when I was amateur its always to counter every shot and land as much as possible as they’re is only 3 rounds.
H: You’re managed by legendary former world champion Barry McGuigan. How does it feel to have the backing of such a highly regarded figure in British boxing and does Barry ever give you advice and guidance in training?
J: It’s great if I’m honest, Barry has been there and done it, so he has a vast amount of knowledge about what it takes to succeed in the boxing game. He gives me advice here and there and watches the sparring and training and tells me about how I can improve and what I need to do more of, which is tremendous to have so I am just trying to soak up as much of that knowledge as possible to help me improve as a fighter.
H: Who gave you the hardest fight amateur or pro?
J: I would say it would have to be either Peter McGrail or my now stablemate and Commonwealth champion Lee McGregor.
H: What has been your best boxing experience thus far?
J: I would say my best boxing experience would be my professional debut. Making your entrance and hearing the crowd is an amazing feeling. I boxed in Bournemouth which is close to my hometown of Southampton, so I had a lot of support there, also boxing in the small 8oz gloves with no boxing vest, just experiencing what its like to be a professional.
H: Thanks again Jack. All the best for your next fight!