Jordan Latimer: From Adversity To The Comeback
By Henry Walter
Jordan Latimer speaks out on the highs and the lows of boxing and what it’s like to come back from adversity.
Once undefeated and touted to go far, Jordan Latimer’s career was spectacularly derailed when he suffered a brutal first round loss at the hands of the far heavier, former amateur Commonwealth medallist, John Docherty.
The fight and the nature of the finish, a hard uppercut that ended the fight in the opening seconds of the first round, ensured that Latimer suddenly received all the wrong kinds of publicity and attention.
Latimer suffered injuries that stayed with him for a long time after the fight. Following these injuries, which he candidly discusses here, coupled with the hugely unfair criticism he received, most men would have simply walked away from sport altogether.
A talented athlete, Latimer demonstrated an inner warrior mentality and refused to turn his back on either boxing, or his other love, running.
I asked Latimer what first attracted to him to boxing as a child.
“I first started boxing around six years of age in Wythenshawe where I’m from. Jimmy Egan’s boxing Club was my first gym. My uncle Joe Gallagher used to briefly take me there with my cousin.
“I soon moved to Ireland at the age of eight. At first, I only began boxing so I could stick up for myself as I was getting bullied in school. As you can imagine as a young lad in that part of Ireland with a British accent, I had no choice but to learn boxing.”
Boxing quickly became a huge part of Latimer’s life and he enjoyed much success during his amateur career, winning nineteen of his twenty-three fights and capturing an array of titles.
“I started my amateur career in County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland at Ballinacarrow Boxing Club. I boxed under the very well-known Stephen and Allan Reynolds and Kevin Mullen. I won the local School Boy Championships, the Donegal Open and Connaught Championships in the youths. I was very well looked after. I always show a huge amount of respect for Sligo. I was always very proud to fly the flag for my adopted home, Ireland.”
The pro’s beckoned and for Latimer the decision to turn over was an easy one.
“I always wanted to turn pro that was what ultimately I was training towards from about thirteen years old. I moved back to England in 2015 at the age of seventeen and started training under John Murray for about twelve months before my debut. For me it was a dream come true to have my favourite fighter of all-time training me.
“Another huge motivation for me was to also be able to promote suicide prevention and mental health awareness as much as I could in memory of my father. I’m more than happy to take big fights in future to help me achieve that.”
As a full-time university student, Latimer struggled to juggle the rigors of training to be a professional fighter whilst making sure he had enough time to study.
“It’s virtually impossible to train as a pro whilst in full-time education and trying to balance work and training at same time. This was especially difficult in the north-east as pro boxing is virtually non-existent up here. It’s tough even for amateurs.”
Latimer’s pro debut was against Norfolk’s Duane Green, who was already a veteran of some thirty-one fights.
“He (Green) was actually a last-minute replacement fighter. I was originally supposed to have Robert Studinski. I got Duane on a few days notice. I knew that after turning pro at eighteen I would be facing predominantly more experienced fighters and would have to learn on the job. I was pleased to get the win.”
Having gone 2-0 fairly comfortably in his opening two fights, Latimer took the aforementioned extremely tough, late notice fight with Commonwealth Games medallist John Docherty. Docherty landed a hard uppercut within seconds of the fight starting and the punch had a massive effect.
“If I could go back in time and redecide if I should take it or not, I would still take the fight one hundred times over. I never wanted to end my career with ifs or buts. I always wanted the best possible fights, every fighter better than the next. Win or lose.
“At the time I had been at university about six weeks and been pretty heavy with alcohol and had been going out very dehydrated. I was about a stone and half under my usual weight. I thought I was going to walk through him. I wasn’t in the gym with John either at that time.
“I was also going through a lot of personal things in my life regarding my father and was not happy with my management etc. I learned my lesson, to train for a fight.”
The fallout from the defeat was big. The fight had been televised on Sky Sports and as it had ended in the opening seconds, it attracted unwanted attention from more casual fans who were quick to post derogatory comments about Latimer on social media sites.
The unwanted attention from the KO defeat didn’t end there. Latimer even received taunts from fellow students.
“At the beginning I’m not going lie it was very tough to come to terms with. I had lost my undefeated record. I think for any teenager it would hurt.
“I needed a break from it (boxing) to get my thinking straight, get over the loss and push forward when time was right again. I had a concussion from the fight and I still don’t remember the whole month of October 2018.
“I got a lot of abuse on social media and people at university passing judgement. I found it incredibly tough to deal with in the beginning as I felt embarrassed as no one had ever dealt with me in that fashion before. I guess either way if you’re winning or losing, you’re going to take abuse in boxing, it comes with the territory. People don’t realise the sacrifices a boxer has made throughout their life and the hard work it takes to get to that level, it is what it is.
“It was a very tough ending to 2018. I was very depressed and withdrew into myself, however, I eventually came through it a better athlete.”
Latimer spent time in hospital after the fight, suffering a concussion along with ear and facial injuries. The journey back to full mental and physical health took time but Latimer was determined to rebuild.
“I actually started athletics training straight away to give myself something new to focus on. I guess to fill the void I ended up pretty talented at it as my father Michael was a runner for Sale Harriers, with whom I’m currently running for along with my university in Sunderland.
“I’ve also been training on and off in a boxing gym while also sparring. It takes a lot to comeback but it’s best to do it quietly and surprise the people who doubted you.”
Latimer has trained extensively with former European lightweight champion John Murray and Murray has had a big impact on his career.
“Growing up I watched all of John’s fights and my style became aggressive like his which is what I prefer. I hated the typical amateur boxer style, it just bored me. I always fought in a pro style, I think that limited how far I could go in the amateurs but I never cared about winning much then, only in the pros.
“I was quite fortunate to be able to train and meet with John as a teenager, while he was training for his British and European title fights as of course his coach Joe Gallagher is my mother’s brother, my uncle. John is my all-time favourite fighter and when he said he’d train me that was the pinnacle of my career! He’s the Father Figure/Uncle I never had.
“I see John as my own family and will always consider him the closest thing I have to a dad. He’s been there when I’ve been at my lowest and he really cares. I still train with John. Something people don’t know because I’ve kept it quiet.
“I renewed my BBBOFC (British Boxing Board of Control) licence in September so I’m looking for a comeback in the new year. I’m hoping to fight in January or February at welterweight or light-middle. It’s because of John that I’m back, he’s given me all the confidence and Support and wants me to return to the ring.”
I asked Latimer to recall his fondest boxing memory.
“It would have to be when I was about twelve back in 2010. I got to train and meet with John and Joe Murray, Matthew Macklin, Tony Jefferies and Paul Smith in Manchester. That was my most memorable moment of my amateur days!”
Latimer has experienced a lot in his short career. I wondered what his advice would be for young amateur fighters who might be looking to turn pro.
“My advice would have to be make sure you surround yourself with people who care about you and have your full interests at heart. Don’t turn pro too fast, get as much experience as possible and don’t listen to people who try bring you down.”
An athlete with multiple talents, Latimer is also an experienced runner. I spoke to him about his achievements in athletics and his latest venture, a sponsored Marathon where he will be raising money for Timperley Amateur Boxing Club.
“My main disciplines in athletics are the 5k, 10k and Cross Country. I compete for First Claim Sale Harriers and Second claim Sunderland Harriers, while also competing for my university in regional National events and Championship events. I will soon be upping my distances to half marathon, marathon and ultra in a few years once I graduate.
“For me the Manchester marathon is one I wanna do for my father in a sub three-hour time. I’ll be doing it to help raise funds for Timperly Amateur Boxing Club as they are looking to build a new gym. They are of my former amateur clubs.”
Defeats in a sport such as boxing are the ultimate test of character and Latimer is passing that test very well.