I didn’t really have a long Pro-filling amateur career, but It covers some important points so I’ll give the short and sweet side of things.
I started boxing on my 16th birthday. I walked into Ruislip Boxing Club where I picked up a skipping rope and instantly fell in love with boxing.I trained and developed my boxing skills under Terry and Derick for the first year. I had three amateur fights and won all three. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ruislip and met some great people who I speak to till this day. However, I moved away from the club at 17 to Hooks Boxing Gym and trained under Steve Newland.
Before the season started when I went on holiday, I remember having my first panic attack. Because I was already quite fearful of flying - when the pilot misjudged the landing and was experiencing difficulty with the plane, it triggered my anxiety. This snowballed into bad anxiety/depression where returning to boxing was difficult. I would find it difficult to train and ended up losing two more fights. My mental health became really bad from the ages 17-23 to the point where I was only able to eat shepherd’s pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I was paralyzed with fear and anxiety.
But, things changed when I met this girl when I was working as a dog groomer. I will call her Clair, I don’t think she would want her real name used. When you meet someone you really like, you want to change for the better for them – you want to be the best version of yourself for this woman. I remember hysterically crying when I was with Clair, and when she asked me what was wrong, I told her everything: how I hated my job and how I wished that I persevered with boxing. I replied with the upmost optimism and simply said, “Jack! You can do anything with your life if you want to, if you love boxing it’s not to late to try again”.
I remember going to the gym the next day, for the first time in 6 years knowing that someone supported me and had confidence in me to follow my dreams. 2 weeks later, I was back at my Boy Hood Club Ruislip and was welcomed with hugs and kissed by Terry and Derick. My Second run as an amateur was an enjoyable one. I had 5 fights, winning 3 of them and picked up a little North West London Under 7 Bouts Novice Championship.
Towards the end of my second run as an amateur, I got in contact with an Old Hooka buddy (now retired pro) called Luke Robinson, he was telling me about how he’s turning pro and having his first pro fight soon and asked me if I would like to come down and watch him. I went down to watch him at York hall (which is like my Second home now) and I remember loving the atmosphere and environment of it all. Luke stopped the guy in the first round. After seeing that, the thought of turning pro was in my head and at the age of 24 I turned over. I love being a pro fighter. I just enjoyed the whole ride and journey of it all : to meeting all the celebrities and my idols, to training and actually fighting at York hall as a pro, the women (and there’s been a lot), to going in to clubs and using the chat up line “hey I’m Jack and I’m a pro fighter”. Boxing has changed my life.
Let me drive in and talk about how the last 4 years turned out for me. I walked into State Of Mind Boxing Gym and met a man called Barry o’Connell, an Ex-Royal Marine (if you’ve ever been to the gym you can see the royal marine flag above the ring). Barry had me sold on himself and the gym within about 10 minutes.
I’ll always remember him asking me if I wanted a coffee as he was going to Costa and I replied “no thank you mate”. He turned around and punched me in the stomach and said “have a coffee” to which I responded “I’ll have a tea please”. He came back with a tea but no sugar and since I have a sweet tooth and usually have 3 sugars in my drink.. I just remember pretending to drink it and throwing it in the first bin I saw. Long story short, I ended up training under State Of Mind with Barry and I also signed with Steve Goodwin and quite quickly had my first fight lined up to take place in November 2016.
I was learning a lot of new stuff about boxing like how you don’t fight at the weight you’re at, how you cut down in size to gain advantages and so on. I had always fought at 57kg and was told I could most likely make 50kg. My first fight was made at 50kg but couldn’t find an opponent and got moved up to 52kg (8.1 stone superfly weight) which is the weight I still fight at now. It was at this time I learnt how hard it was to sell tickets in boxing, I’ve never been a ticket seller and to be honest I don’t think I ever will (but time will tell I guess) I remember Barry told me he wanted me to pull out of the fight as he didn’t feel like he had put in enough time with me training wise to be ready for the fight but at this time in my eyes it was already to late to pull out, I was on point with my weight and I had already sold 40 tickets and didn’t want to let anyone down and not be able to get their tickets sales for the next fight. At this time my anxiety was still really bad and I remember Barry had arrange for me and the lads to go and have an away spar, even though I had been in boxing for around three years at this point I had never had an away spar and I remember when we got to the gym I started to panic as I had never been in this situation before and when I was sparring I had a Panic attack, I didn’t tell anyone I just got on with it and after the spar was over and took a pretty good beating, I just went outside and finished off my panic attack aloud. On the way home I remember that was the first time I thought about quitting boxing as I didn’t think I had what it took to be a pro fighter. It’s was more of the same going into my first pro fight, I was sparing and it was followed quickly by a panic attack, but facing all these troubles I still got in great physical condition, I was ripped to shards and to this day it was probably the best I’ve looked body wise. So the big day had arrive and let me talk you through how fight day normally goes for me. I walk up early and have breakfast and after that I get changed pack my bag and unpack it like two times just to make sure I haven’t forgot anything. I head off down to state of mine where the Saturday Circuit is taking place and Barry will be there talking shit and cracking his usual fight night jokes, I’ll jump on the scales check my weight and head down to York hall. When I arrive at York hall I’ll say hello to Steve (my promoter) and one of my favourite men in boxing Kevin campion (Steve’s right hand man) I’ll take a sit and watch the ring and Arena get set up. Showily some of the Goodwins boxers will start making their way in and you’ll start chatting to one another and seeing how you are all feeling and so on, Steve with call you into a room and you’ll sort out your ticket money and have a little laugh with him, next you’ll go stripe off and check your weight and shortly after you’ll go see the doctor, after that you’ll make your way down too the cafe across the road and stuff your face before the fight, you’ll go back to York hall sit down and watch the crowd make their way in and watch some boxing, your trainer will tap you on the shoulder and say “jack let’s go back and start getting warmed up” you’ll go back stage start getting wrapped up and hitting the pads, shortly after the best whip in boxing David evans will come and say “jack your up mate it’s show time” and that’s a typical fight night (well for me anyway) I remember being in the changing room for the fight and Barry telling me to lock myself in the toilet and have a Second to cool down. I mean I thought I was alright my anxiety was in check and everything but Barry saw different. At this time I used to watch a lot of wrestling and I have always looked up to a wrestler called c.m punk and he always use to shout “IM THE BEST IN THE WORLD” before making his way to the ring. So I dyed my hair red, had a pink and gold fit kit with ‘best in the world’ on the back of it. I made my way down to the ring coming out to ‘shonlock - transform’ (which was a song I found watching a Bernard Hopkins training video) my debut was against Sergey Tasimov who didn’t have a winning record but at the time had around 76 fights and had been fighting all over the world. To this day I still thought I did enough to win the fight but the ref scored it 37-40 to him. I was devastated and shortly after a man from IFL tv asked if I wanted to be interviewed, I said yes, I’ve always faced any loss in life like a man never ran and hid away from it and plus I’ve always loved a camera. He was asking me about the night and I remember saying “even though l lost it was still a dream come true and one of the best experiences of my life”. After that I went hone with Clair and she told me not to worry and I’ll still be a champion one day. An to this day at that moment in time I still really believe she was the only person who ever thought that. A little funny story for you. After my debut I was getting loads of adds on Facebook from boxers, pro coach’s and just some General boxing fans. It got to the point where I was getting around 100 likes a day which I thought was really odd, if you don’t know how Facebook works, the more adds you get the higher you go up on the list and the more people see your name. So I was getting all these adds and accepting them all thinking they was all boxing fans and when I was posting photos of me after training and with my shirt off I kept getting loads of messages like “oh so fit, looking cute, oh so hot” from men and I was like ‘what is going on here? Turns out all the adds I was accept where all from gay men and now I have a big gay following on Facebook which is pretty funny I think. About a week had gone by and I text Barry saying I wasn’t sure if I wanted to box anymore, the next day he sat me down with some of the lads and he got them to give me an opinion on why I shouldn’t quit and I remember it was the words on John O’Donell ( former Southern area, English and Commonwealth champion) who said “ quitting is for losers” I just remember that always stuck out and was Lodge in my brain for a long time and if it wasn’t for him saying that I most likely would of packed it in. It’s also funny as on the day I made my debut anther fight made his debut who also lost called Lee Spencer and he never fought again after that, he was most likely in the same place as me but he never had a John O’Donald in his training camp, I could of ended up the same way looking back on it. I carried on training and a couple weeks later I had a fight lined up in March and we was having a gym meeting. In the meeting Barry told me he didn’t have time to train me anymore and asked if I would mind training with Brian Gee (Barry’s Second in the corner and cuts men) I said yes and this is when mine an brains career started. I had my first spar back with a lad called Jules Phillips (who funny enough also lost his debut) no matter what happens Jules will always hold a place in my heart as if it wasn’t for him I really believe my career would of just folded. I remember he gave me a good beating on my first spar back and I remember thinking ‘fuck this man, I’m making big changes’ and I remember after that I just trained like a demon from then on and me and Jules kept on sparring and sparring and we both kept on improving and improving and our friendship also grow. Jules went down the route of a journeymen, which I always thought was a shame as I thought he could of been a champion and I continued as a prospect. A week before I was meant to fight my opponent pulled out and I got matched with a fighter called Georgi Georgiev, who at that time was coming off, of a KO win to prospect Sam Cantwell (son to nick cantwell former world title Challenger) and a draw to a stablemate of mine Ramesh Ahmadi (who he also dropped) he was known to be pretty dangerous and a pretty big puncher after what happened on my debut it was a massive risk as if I lost that was it, it would of been bye, bye boxing. But I never wanted to be one of them fighters who didn’t take risks and ran away from people, it was given to me and I took it with out a Second thought. Around this time I heard all this rubbish from my stale mate saying that they thought I was going to get knocked out and how they thought my career was over. I’ve never been one to care what people think or care about their opinion so it was like water off a ducks back to me. I remember speaking to Barry during this camp and he told me this he said “jack when you first came to the gym, I’ll be honest I didn’t think you was all that as a boxer and some of the lads told me that if I trained you people will think I’ll train anyone. But I told them I don’t care because I can see this lad really wants it and I believe he’ll fight for a title one day before all of you lot” that really lit a fire with in me as I really wanted to prove all these lads wrong. So the big day was here again and the same per fight ritual took place Barry’s was cracking shit jokes as usual and so on. It’s was a funny one my Second professional fight because I remember walking to the ring and thinking to my self ‘that’s it, I’m going to get knocked out and my career will be over’ that’s the first time I’ve ever thought that going into the ring and the only time. But I don’t know what happen but the second the bell went I just schooled the kid and took some big shots and that was the first time I realise 1, that I had a good chin and 2, I was built for this sport. I remember coming out of the ring and guess who was the first people to congratulate me? It was the same people that told Barry not to give me a chance and the same people who was saying I was going to get knocked out. (It’s funny how people’s opinion can change so fast) shortly after I experience the nicest and happiest moment of my life, I remember walking out of my changing room over to my family looking down out the floor feeling really proud of myself and I looked out and through the crowd in York hall I see my girlfriend Clair running over to me with open arms and she jump into mine, started to cry and said “I’m so proud of you” thinking of that moment always makes me emotional and it always strakes me as a Moment in the movies where the couple are like “ha we did it babe” it’s a moment I think I’ll hold dearly to me till the day I die. It was around this time my anxiety started to get a lot better and I was really finding my feet in life, I had my first full time job in a couple of years and I was happy in my job, I had Clair, I had my boxing. things where looking up going in to my third professional fight and life was good. A week before my third pro fight my opponent pulled out again and I told Steve I wanted Sergey Tasimov again in a rematch, Steve got the fight made and I remember Barry telling me he didn’t want me to take the fight as he thought it was to much of a risk, he felt how I had got myself into a good place and if I lost it, it would be all over for me. Me being me I didn’t care I wanted to avenge the loss and set the record straight and move on. So the day had come and I remember thinking to myself on the day ‘how far I had come since my debut with the guy who came to the ring with red hair and best in the world on his shorts’ I remember this fight I let Clair come back stage with me and this big fella looked over at us and said “if you don’t mind me asking but who are you to him” (to Clair) and I remember thinking ‘surly this guys not going to try hit on my girlfriend right before my fight, I’m gonna have to lay this guy out’ turns out he just wanted to ask Clair if she got nervous before I had my fights as he was a fighter and how his girlfriend hated him fighting, it’s also turns out that, that man was Joshua Buatsi so me laying him out wouldn’t of went to well. But the rematch was on and looking back on it I made it closer than it had to be. Before the announcer had announced the decision I remember running up to the corner of the ring and jumping on the ropes and I missed juded the jump, slipped an feel on the floor and the whole Arena started laughing and I ended up winning the fight 39-38 the ref had scored it to me. I remember being so happy I started crying and the doc asked if I was alright in the ring as he doesn’t normally get this reaction from fights (that will always be a funny moment) that’s was a good night. After that I remember a lot had changed in my life, I started going out a lot with the lads from the gym and I started drinking which I had never done in my life before. I remember at this point I felt like I may have gotten a bit to big for my boots and started to become abit full of myself, I kinda thought I was gods gift and remember I was getting abit of attention from woman at this point and started becoming pretty unfaithful, Clair found out and gave me more chances than I deserved, way more to be honest with you and myself. Towards the end of that year me and Clair split up. You know at the time it’s funny as I thought it was what I wanted and I could go and run around and mess about like I wanted to, but looking back on it, it’s one of the biggest regrets of my life. I look back on it with real bitterness and disappointment in myself. As times gone on and I’ve grown up I came to realise how I was an idiot, but time heals all wounds as they say and I’ve move on now, she’s still the only woman I’ve ever loved and this my be wrong but I always compare others to her and none have yet. At this point it was 2018 now which was definitely the best year of my life and my boxing career, I had 4 fights that year which was more then both the other years pit together and fought for two titles. It was around this time I kind of found the party boy lifestyle and so on, partying and seeing a lot of girls, coming into my fourth fight. In my fourth fight I came up again a man called Gary reeve who just knocked out Reiss Taylor (the smallest boxer in Britain at 4 foot 11in) it was at this point in my career it just seemed like all the odds were always against me, but as time had showed when the odds where against me the better I preformed and I went on to have the best Performance of my career at that point. So now At this point in my career I was 3-1 and I wanted to start pushing on, as ticket sales were becoming really hard I always struggled and a lot of time I put my own money into making fights happen, I’ve never told anyone this before but one time I put a grand of my own money into a boxing fight just to make it happen. Some my says that’s crazy but when you love boxing as much as I do and it’s all you wanted to do in life and you’re living your dream what’s a grand? Coming on to my five fight Steve (my promoter) I have always felt he had a real soft spot for me as I had always down what he asked of me, turn my whole career around after a loss, i was a real character and never turned down a Challenge when it was given to me. Steve got me a title fight in my 5th pro fight I fought for the International challenge belt and he also let me headline York hall and made me the poster boy for the show and how many people in their life and say they’ve done that? That meant so much for me as I was just some little shit flyweight (as people liked to call me) who lost his debut and couldn’t sell a ticket for love or money, so for Steve to do that for me was the nicest thing I think anyone has ever done for me. Funny enough again my opponent pulled out and I was faced with an old foe in Georgi Georgiev in an 8 round title fight, it was funny as I went straight to an 4 rounder to a 8 rounder which was a big step up. As the year of 2018 was the year that kept on giving to me I found my self in an interview with sky sports news, yep you read that right me little jack Hughes on the big sky sports news. I remember it was the first ever interview I had done where I was truly nervous, but as I’ve always been one for the cameras when it was lights, camera, action you wouldn’t of been able to tell there was any nerves there at all, that was a great moment in my life. I remember in the build up to that fight I got a love for tattoos and I got the state of mind gym logo tattooed on me, people to this day still make fun of me for the tattoo and I never really understand it as, it was where I state my pro journey, the place that gave me a chance and the place that helped me get over my anxiety. So I never saw the funny side of it and plus people get football badges tattooed on them and people never say a word about it so what’s wrong with my gyms logo the place I have nothing but love for? I don’t know but anyway I digress. The big day had arrived and it really was my big day as I was the main-event everyone was pretty much there to see me and it was the first time I had ever sold 100 tickets for a fight. The fight happen, I scored my first ever knock down (and celebrated like I won the World Cup) I went on to win the fight on points on my big day and shorty after another great moment happened in my life. I remember walking out and my cousin mark (he’s the reason I got into all this punk shit) he saw me and told me to jump on his shoulders and ran me into the bar as everyone started singing “oh Jack the Ripper” (the ripper was an old boxing nickname) and as you guess the tears came out in me again, that was a very Proud moment for me. In the build up to my sixth professional fight I was told that if I win I will get a shot at the Southern area title. We had an apartment in mind called Sam cantwell (who was mention earlier on in the story) the stage seemed pretty much set as we both fought on the same show he put out a big statement stopping Georgi Andonov and I put about a strong Performance winning ever round against Steven Maguire. So as I said before it seemed like the stage was set for me and Sam two fight for the title but when my promoter Steve went to make the fight we was told that Sam didn’t want to fight me we was both pretty shocked at the news but I put forward a name to Steve who was the man who we did end up fighting called Rickey little. I trained extremely hard for the fight, I suffered a cut in training which we had to keep on the low in case the fight got pulled. I ended up only sparring 3 times in the build up to that fight which for a 10 round title fight was not ideal and it was most likely my down fall. I went on to sell 100 tickets again for the fight and me and Ricky little put on a small hall classic to this day people still talk to me about the fight, we just went at it and traded leather for 10 rounds it was none stop from start to finish, I gassed out from the 6 round I felt I was ahead in the fight at that point but after that Ricky started to take over and ended up winning on points the ref scored it 94-96 to little. After that 2019 was a weird year for me. I haven’t spoke about it in this story so far as I haven’t wanted to go into to much depth about it as I’m back training at state of mind now, but I feel out with my coach Brian Gee and a couple of other lads at the gym. My first time around at state of mind I didn’t feel like I got treat as fair as some of the other lads in the gym, I was made to train on my own and other things I won’t go into but yeah me and Brian had a really bad falling out and despite their being good times with me and him and our group of lads in the gym did have, I’ve just always found it hard to believe there was ever real love there or if we was ever really friends, like I know him and the lads where my friends but was I ever really theirs? Ones day hopefully I’ll be able to talk more about it but for now that’s another story for another time. So I moved gyms to new kings and I trained with Rob lloyd-Taylor. I’ve always kinda of been disappointed with my time at new kings as it was around this time I started to lose the love for boxing as I had lost my friends and the gym I loved and where I was training on my own all the time it had kind of taken it all out of me. It’s seem like more and more kept i’m unfolding on me in 2019 as my nan passed away in March and I had a girlfriend at the time who feel pregnant and she told me we was going to have a family together and behind my back had an abortion without my blessing, when it rains it’s pours as the say. I remember calling up rob not long before the fight and telling him I don’t want to fight anymore, Rob took me out the next day with his kids and spoke to me about a lot of things and introduced me to a man called Carl, Carl is an interesting man who had a freak accident rocking on a chair slipped hit his head and is now in a wheel chair, it was my meeting with Carl that changed a lot for me. He’s just an interesting man and speaks so openly and seems to be so positive for what’s his been through. He told me “don’t throw away the chances You have because you could end up in a fucking wheel chair like me” he told me. After that day my mind set had changed and I ended up fighting at 58kg (mostly because I wasn’t training properly for most of the build up to the fight) I beat Stefan Slavchev in a 6 rounder won ever round and people told me it’s the best they have seen me box so far. After that Rob told me to join him on a holiday to Jamaica. Now if you remember how my anxiety started in the first place you’ll know who much of a big deal this was for me and I hadn’t been on a plane since that day it was around 11 years. So I went to Jamaica with Rob and a couple of lads from the gym and it was a real eye opener for me with a lot of things, it changed me as a person and I have some great memory’s from the holiday. I’ll never really be able to thank Rob for everything he did for me in my short time we shared together but I just hope he knows how grateful I am and how much he helped me grow as a person. After the holiday I was told that i would be fighting Ricky little in a rematch in September I trained extremely hard for the fight and as it got closer I got a called from Steve saying that the fight will be moved to November. It gave me more time to train and I felt like it was my down fall in the end as I over did it in the training. I got to the point where getting up leaving my house to walk to the train station which is an 8 minute walk from my house and I was just absolutely exhausted from it and I carried on sparring 10 rounds and I was just looking awful. But a week out from the fight and I was told it was called off, my friend had brought a coach for me and my family to go up there and he was never able to get his money back, I was gutted as I wanted the fight to happen so bad but in hindsight it was a blessing in disguise as I was in a bad way and I would of lost that fight. I just felt like after everything that had happen that this was going to be my last big push in boxing, After that the fight got move to December I carried on training but it just wasn’t the same anymore I just had lost all motivation. I called up Rob one day and told him I didn’t want to fight anymore and thanked him for everything and officially announced my retirement in January 2020. As we all know lock down happen in March and this ended up being a really good thing for me. Being alone with my thoughts really helped me grown as a person and really helped my mental health. During that time I had no ambitions to get back into boxing again but one day in lockdown got a call from mr Goodwin himself asking me if I would like to appear on one of his boxing interviews on his Instagram he was doing during lockdown I said “yes”. I had my interview and it was pretty entertaining if I do say so myself (I’ve always been abit of a character) it was at that moment in time boxing started to creep back into my mind again. So after the first lockdown when we was aloud out again I went to go and see Rob to start training again. He told me that he was moving the gym to Hillingdon and with my work schedule I just couldn’t commit to the times Rob wanted me to do. So lo and behold I went to see an old friend mr Barry o’Connell (from state of mind) we had a good chat and spoke about a lot of things and I asked him if it would be ok if I could come and train back down at the gym and he said “yes” a lot of people told me at the time that it was a bad idea to go back there after everything but after the time away where I grew as an person and Barry grow I knew in my heart what was right. So as I was training down at state of mind again Barry sat me down and told me with my schedule and his schedule it was hard to get training in and he introduced me to a man called Adam (my current coach) and said he was bring in Adam so I can get more training as he won’t always be around as are schedules don’t always link up. it’s funny looking back on it at the time I told Barry it was ok as long as he was the main coach. But me and Adam kind of clicked from the started he just kind of got my weird character which many people don’t and the more and more time, and the more and more me an Adam trained and the more our relationship started to grow I only wanted to train with Adam. Adam had never had any boxing training experience before, but he use to be a bodybuilder and in his time in body building he learnt a lot about how the body works and has taught me some interesting stuff about how the body works and so on, on top of that he has great boxing knowledge. This was also the first time I had done any strength work in my pro career and Adam worked out a 12 week plan for us to follow to build my strength up and to give you an insight on the progress, the first week I could only deadlift 70kg and in week 12 I ended up deadlifting 135kg now remember I fight at 52kg and I walk around at 60kg so I was deadlifting way over double my weight. In this time I fought about what I wanted from boxing and I’ve realise I’ve wanted to Embark on a nee Journey to break boundaries on what is acceptable for men in and out side of sports. I started listening to people like Mgk and yungblud who have somewhat broke boundaries of their own and have a very similar punkie style to myself. I have a pretty funky dress sense, I paint my nails (I’ve always got some mad design on them), I’m covered in tattoos, I’m always changing hair. I’m just different to most and I’ve always been very out their and I wanted people to see this and know that it’s ok to be different. which I find a lot of people struggle with people who are different and being them selfs out of fear that people won’t accept them. So this time around I wanted to do my thing and embark on this new journey. I wanted to be the first pro boxer in history to fight with painted nails and to wear lipstick in the ring. Which will happen on my come back fight (when ever that will be in 2021). My boxing license has been renewed, I’ve passed my eye test and medical and all that’s left to go is my brain scan which I shouldn’t have any problem passing. My 4 years in boxing so far have been great and there is going to be much, much more to come. With this new journey I’m embarking on and Adam by my side I feel like the sky is the limit. I want the rematch with Ricky little and I’m sure I’ll get it, I believe I’m good enough to win a Southern area and an English title, maybe even a Commonwealth if matched well. I wanted to fight at the 02 one day and show case this whole new side of me in 2021 and 2021 will be a massive year for me and for small hall boxing.
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