Jamie Stewart: From A Troubled Past To A Life In Boxing
Jamie Stewart has faced many problems in his life, many were self-inflicted, fighting an unbeaten puncher at three days notice, to him is nothing.
Florian Marku the recent heavily-hyped Matchroom signing had a big reputation and the London-based Albanian had been calling out the likes of Conor Benn, Stewart answered the late call to take the fight on the Joshua-Pulev undercard. Unfancied, unknown a fighter very much in the away corner, expected to provide some resistance before falling to the required narrative.
But Stewart had other ideas, he took the fight when others declined and survived an early knockdown to come out of the Matchroom bubble with a draw against the favoured welterweight prospect Marku.
The score surprised many, and Marku bitterly raised his displeasure about it, the first blemish on his professional resume. But Stewart doesn’t agree that there was any robbery or controversy about the decision:
“I think I outboxed him, I know I went down in the 2nd round, but I hit him with more punches than he hit me. Marku wasn’t happy about it because he is expecting to knock everyone out.”
With all the heat about the scoring and the hype that is around Marku, a rematch seems a natural:
“I want one, I think he wants one but his manager doesn’t.”
What was lost in the discussion over the verdict was the performance of Stewart. No amateur background, limited White-Collar experience and only two previous professional contests, the short-notice call up it was in many ways, a remarkable performance from the underdog.
Stewart had already shown in his previous fight earlier this year that he was not to be taken lightly. Once again in the away corner, Stewart caused a minor upset by beating the previously unbeaten middleweight prospect Michael Hennessy Jr on points, and that win hinted at bigger things to come.
The Stoke-on-Trent fighter has turned his life around after a troubled start. Arrested for the first time at 13 for criminal damage, after being sent to prison for the first time when he was 18, eight times subsequently he received a custodial sentence, his life seemingly drifting away. His life of crime included convictions for assault, burglary and theft, Stewart seemed on the road to nowhere, trapped in a downward spiral with no end or hope in sight. There were thoughts of changing but caught up in that world a way out is not easy:
“I just didn’t know how to, I was trying to be something and someone I wasn’t.”
Stewart had smoked cannabis from an early age, but he later got addicted to ‘monkey dust’ a relatively new man-made drug, a designer drug to some. Highly addictive, it causes hallucinations and paranoia, and is incredibly hard to rid the body of:
“I was going through some hard times in my life and it was just around at the time. It was hard getting off it, not a lot of people do.”
It became a dangerous habit with the obvious consequences and his mother shopped him to the police for smashing up her house, something Stewart hadn’t done, in a desperate cry for help for her son. The initial anger subsided and Stewart realised why it was done:
“I wasn’t happy at the time but after I was. I didn’t like how I was making my family feel.”
It was unconventional, Stewart found himself locked up once again, but it came from a place of love, and it worked. Stewart hadn’t thought about what his behaviour was doing to his family, he got clean and found boxing. Stewart had the obligatory fights in the pub, he needed an outlet for his anger and energy. His brother suggested he go to the gym, and Stewart took an instant liking to his new world, almost straight away his life had turned that corner.
A similar story has been told a million times, but it never loses the importance. What ever the past, there is always a future, a way out. Boxing has long given that hope, Stewart is the latest to embrace it, the sport has undoubtedly saved him.
From his troubled past, Stewart now has real hope for the future. The win over Hennessy and the draw against Marku have offered glimpses of real potential. Stewart thinks he is capable of winning a Midlands or even an English title, from what we have seen so far, that could be only the start of what he could achieve in boxing.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing