Jake Andrews: ‘I want to win a world title for my dad as a thank you for all he ever did for me’
By Louis Devereux
Salford is a small city in the North West of England that has long been punching above its weight in terms of the celebrities, superstars and icons it manages to produce.
From Paul Scholes to Joy Division, there is a long history of success, and there may be a new Salford born star on the way to joining them.
‘Jumbo’ Jake Andrews is a hugely popular professional boxer who is currently 1-0, after a dominant decision victory in June this year, having what appeared to be the whole of Salford cheering him on.
Reflecting upon his debut, it was evident that Jumbo felt it all went to plan, and it was clear to see the passion reflected in his voice when he talked me through it all.
‘I think it went really well, yeah. I had a great time! I enjoyed the experience, the ring walk, the entrance music, all of it. I embraced everything that was going on and I loved all the home support from Salford and surrounding areas. Yeah, I’ll admit there are probably a few things I could have done differently in the ring, but that’s hindsight isn’t it.
‘I should have focussed more on my boxing than trying too hard and getting caught up in a tear up, but that comes with experience and I’ll learn how to control that as I progress. I appreciated and adored every moment of my debut, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.’
Ring walk music is a huge part of a pro debut, and Jumbo came out to ‘Dirty Old Town’, which is a monumental and hugely significant song for anyone that was born or raised in Salford.
‘It’s THE Salford anthem. It’s literally a love poem about Salford and everyone that’s from there will know it, and I like to think that it brings us all together. I hold it very close to my heart because I love Salford to bits, we are all salt of the earth people and I’m glad people sung along and embraced it like I was expecting them to.
‘My next fight is on the 2nd of October at Oldham Leisure Centre, so I’m hoping my fans (or my ‘herd’ as I like to call them) will come and support me for that fight too. Originally it was set for August 21st, but it’s been put on hold till October. I had to readjust my training, but now I’m back in the gym ready for my second fight and another win.’
Jake is far more popular than most boxers just one fight into their career- he once had over 400 people turn up to watch one of his amateur fights, for example. Naturally I was curious as to how he had accumulated such a fanbase so early on, and when I asked what he thought the reasoning behind this was, he explained to me that it was down to a number of reasons.
‘It’s probably mostly down to personality in all honesty, because I always find a way to help people. Whether that be helping people with their mental health, or helping people in general I love giving back because that is what makes me happy in this world. I’d say I’m quite a popular guy because of my character and it just shows, doesn’t it, that the world is better when we all just get behind each other. I’m also a doorman which means I’ve got to know loads of people in and around Salford.
‘I’ve been doing the doors since I was about 18, and I think it has really helped me with my maturity and life experience. Not only that, but it means I’m around drunk people all the time and it makes me realise that I don’t want to drink- it’s been about 6 years since I’ve had a drink, and I’m obviously sober looking at these drunk people doing really funny but really stupid stuff and I’m just thinking ‘what the hell are you doing!?’
‘It sounds weird to say but it’s like a big family doing the doors, everyone gets on great. I understand there’s those stereotypical doormen who are huge, and try and start fights on a power trip, but I don’t like any of that. Me and my mates, we are all pleasant, nice people and I think that’s why we get on with the public and why people tend to like us.’
Jake turned over to the professional ranks after accumulating an amateur record of 22-3, which would be a brilliant professional record, let alone an amateur one (where a boxer would be pleased if he were to be winning two thirds of his bouts).
I asked Jake to tell me a bit more about his amateur career, and what differences he expected to find between amateur and professional boxing. When I asked him this, he laughed, and joked that it was like trying to explain the differences between ‘playing football and being a lorry driver.’
Though this may be a slight exaggeration, the point still stands, and Jumbo went on to explain and point out some of the many differences he’d have to get used to, as well as telling me why he made the decision to turn professional when he did.
‘When you’re a professional boxer, your main priority is to bring entertainment. You prepare and train differently, and your style needs to adapt. It’s not about pitter pattering anymore, you need to plant your feet, get your shots off and do it in an effective manner. Not only that, but you have to think about selling tickets, you need to find a manager, and it’s just very different.
‘The problem with amateur boxing that I found, was that I had so many bouts where people were pulling out and cancelling last minute, and this was the main reason I turned pro when I did. My last amateur fight had 10 people pull out before I found an opponent, and it was just mentally and emotionally draining. I’ve always taken this sport 100% seriously, and I sacrificed spending time with my mates and my Mrs to train, so it was just frustrating to be told a fight wasn’t happening for such and such a reason. My record was 22-3, and all the losses were in championships so they were valuable losses, and I learnt a lot from all of them.’
Jumbo will be hoping to build off his impressive amateur career and turn it into success in the pro ranks, and he certainly pulled no punches when talking me through his ambitions for the future. He also spoke to me about his dad, and how he thinks of his dad as motivation- tragically, Jake’s father committed suicide just a few years ago, and one of the last conversations the two of them had was that he wanted to see Jake succeed in his boxing career, which has obviously stuck with him ever since.
‘I want to build a legacy and create a moment in time where I can say ‘I’m the best’. I don’t do it for money, I do it for myself and the people around me. I want to raise awareness on things like mental health, and I want to have an impact on people.
‘I would love to build that legacy fighting for belts: European, Commonwealth and all that, and I want to win a World Title for my Dad as a thank you for all he ever did for me. He used to take me to the gym and help me with it all, and he always said he’d love to see me with a title around my waist having those big nights, and that’s the biggest motivation anyone could ever have.
‘If ever I wake up and I don’t want to train, I just think of my dad and I force myself to get up. I can promise you now that somehow, one day, I will win a world title. If I have to fight until I’m 50 then I’ll do it, just because I want to hold that World Title high in the air for my Dad.’
Though he may now be a professional fighter talking about winning world titles, this was not always the case. Jake was once just a chubby little kid (hence ‘Jumbo’) getting bullied at school, and I was fascinated to learn how and why he managed to make such a drastic lifestyle change, and what it was that got him into boxing in the first place.
‘I got bullied in school and I got excluded for fighting in year 9, but I was getting bullied because I was fat. My dad took me down to the boxing gym and at first it was just to lose weight but I was really enjoying it, and coming from Salford you need to know how to handle yourself! I stuck with it, and here I am now, a professional athlete.
‘When I was younger, I always looked up to and was inspired by Mike Tyson. He was small for a heavyweight but he could bang like mad and I loved the way he was a true entertainer. As I got older, I was more interested in him from a motivational point rather than his style; for example, like I copied him going for a run at 4am because I thought that’s what I had to do to be a fighter. Eventually I started looking at other boxers like Sugar Ray Robinson, Ray Leonard, Duran, and Hearns; all the old school fighters.’
There are two questions that I like to ask anyone I interview, regardless of who they are- the first is who they would choose to fight given the option of any boxer, past or present. The second, the question I end every interview with, is how they would like to be remembered.
‘I think I’d choose Andre Ward. I’d just love to share the ring with him and experience that, and have a good crack at him! In terms of fighters today, I’d choose Canelo. I study him so much, and I love everything that he does. I sit down on Youtube revising this sport, seeing the technique behind a fighter, analysing the fighters completely and I would love to do that with Canelo when I was actually in the ring with him.
‘You never know as well, If I keep taking little steps, I could end up, one day, against him in real life- turning your idols into rivals and all that.
‘As for how I’d like to be remembered, I want everyone to look back on me as the guy that gave a lot to the sport; I want to be the guy that everyone loves. I want to be that guy who held his head high and could honestly say he gave 1000% to the sport he loves. My worst fear is that I turn into the old man in the pub who tells everyone about all the amazing things he might have achieved if he’d worked a bit harder, so I will give this sport my all- and that’s how I’d like to be recognised and remembered.’