Tommy Jacobs: “I just want to fight people ranked above me with decent records and to push myself as fast as I can.”
By Will Lott
After six long years of waiting for his parole to expire, Essex born Tommy Jacobs has finally received his professional licence from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and is set to make his middleweight debut on the 24th July.
An unusual childhood is a common theme amongst boxers and this is certainly no different for Tommy Jacobs who spent much of his childhood moving around the country.
“My dad was always in and out of prison and instead of my Dad going to court and facing up to what had happened, we’d move somewhere else in the country until it finally caught up with him. Our whole childhood was spent moving around everywhere.”
However, in what could be perhaps deemed fate it was during one of his many moves Tommy’s brother found the local gym.
“We were living in Scotland when my big brother started boxing at Peterhead amateur boxing club. We finally moved down to Harwich in Essex, round the corner from where I was born. My brother wanted to find a local boxing club. Walked through the doors at Harwich Boxing club back in 1998, 10 years old and never looked back. That’s been my life ever since.”
Tommy fell in love with the sport and would go on to have a successful amateur career.
“I think I severely underachieved, mainly due to my parents being useless and not giving us any sort of backing or help with anything really. I had 60 odd bouts, I won 4 national titles, representing England numerous times and I was captain of the England team as well.”
In 2009, just as Jacobs was looking down various avenues of turning pro, he was arrested, convicted of Grievous Bodily Harm and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He would go on to serve half of his sentence in prison and the other half on parole.
“Gym life in prison is basically all there is. You have your various educational things that you do but everyone gets the opportunity to go the gym a couple of times a week. I was training regularly and because everyone knew that I was a boxer, they’d let me come over and do extra bits.”
On March 13th 2015, Jacobs was released from prison and immediately signed with Stephen Goodwin with the intent of turning pro. However, he was turned away and told he must complete his sentence before he would be allowed a licence with the BBBofC.
“Being on licence you’re not allowed to leave the country so I wasn’t allowed to box on a foreign licence. I found the MBC, the Motor Boxing Commission and I signed up with them and I had my first bout with them which went on to Boxrec. I had my second bout with them which also went on to Boxrec but then they lost their Boxrec status so they changed their name and became BIBA, British & Irish Boxing Authority.”
Jacobs would go on to have multiple fights and win titles under many different professional organisations including the German company BDF through Alan Minter and the Queensbury Boxing League.
Jacobs would also go on to win the World Boxing Foundation European title. A title held by the likes of boxing icons Roy Jones Jr and James Toney.
“I won that fight winning their title and won the WBF international as well which the likes of Hector Camacho has won. I had one of my last fights against Nathan Decastro which was for the WBF and WBU super-middleweight world titles. I was winning the fight by a country mile, eight rounds in I’d won every round and he fell out the ring and he couldn’t continue. They turned round and declared it a no contest.”
Although the standard of the shows were sometimes mixed at best, and Jacobs felt he was cheated more than once, each of his opponents were legitimate active fighters with records on Boxrec for the public to see.
“I spent an arm and a leg promoting massive shows and walking away without a penny for the love of the sport so the shows could be like a real show.”
Finally on March 13th 2021, Jacobs’s conviction expired and he was free to re-apply for a licence.
“Whilst I’ve been waiting, I’ve had times thinking will I ever get my licence. I thought so many times shall I just knock this on the head and go and get a 9 to 5 but it’s not me. I’m a boxer through and through.”
Since December 2020, he has been training down at Hoddesdon Gym and had already signed on with Mo Prior.
“I had a few different managers contact me about turning pro with them but I’d already made my mind up to go with Mo. He seemed to me, the only trust worthy person I’ve met on that side of things in the sport. Some of the managers that contacted me will have thought this kid has got a story, a documentary coming out and a good amateur career, he’ll be able to sell tickets. When I spoke to Mo, I told him my plan.”
Now Jacobs can focus solely on hitting the ground running on what will be his “second debut” on 24th July when he faces Theophilus Tetteh, a former opponent of Anthony Fowler.
“I don’t want to fight any journeymen or a negative record. I just want to fight people ranked above me with decent records and to push myself as fast as I can. I’m chucking myself in at the deep end. I want three fights in the next three months, Lee Valley on 24th July, then York Hall on 21st August and 21st September. I want to get a better opponent every time and try to push for some sort of title before the year is out and if I stay injury free I see no reason why I can’t do that.”
With a lengthy conviction to his name, Jacobs will always have people saying they can’t support him or that he may not deserve the opportunity. To them he says:
“People only know what they’ve read on Google or in the newspapers. No one actually knows the full story about what happened and how. I’ve got no need to explain it to them and no need to change others opinions of me. The good I do far outweighs the bad. If people want to judge me on something I did when I was a kid, so be it.”
Outside the ring, Jacobs is recognised for the fantastic charity work he does.
“I’ve raised tens of thousands of pounds for charity. I do so much good in my community that goes under the radar. I run all female white collar boxing shows raising money for various causes. A lot of the time our shows are for cancer patients. We’ve sent people to America for treatment. Every year, I buy £500 worth of presents and head down to the local children’s ward for Christmas.”
For those who aren’t familiar with Tommy Jacobs, he is hoping to release a documentary about his life later this year.
“A few years ago a little film crew who normally work on MMA were in the same gym and recognised me. We got chatting and they listened to my story and thought it makes for a fantastic film. For the last three years or so they’ve been following me, interviewing various people, watching me box and train. It is going into film festivals later this year and looking to get it on hopefully Netflix or Amazon Prime.
“It is a rags to riches story. One minute you’re captain of the England team, then you’re at the lowest of the low in prison for years and now things have come round full circle. The name of it is Sweet T, the polarising life story of Tommy Jacobs. It is going to be a very good and informative watch. You will find out what happened and it will change a few peoples’ opinions.”
With Tommy aiming high so early in his career, his should be an exciting one to follow.