A young Loughgall boxer claimed his first title at the weekend and insists the best is yet to come.
Jack Anderson, who just turned 19, travelled to Liverpool in his third ever bout, defeating Manchester’s Liam Fitzmaurice, claiming the Celtic super-lightweight title in the process.
Jack is no stranger to combat sport, lacing the gloves up since he was 12, however, his focus has only recently turned to boxing.
Kickboxing was always Jack’s combat sport of choice, but having become inactive over lockdown – the pandemic really hindered sport – the teenager found himself at a crossroads.
Only for his cousin-turned-coach Yousef Jaafar, it may have been an altogether different story for the youngster who hails from a sporting family. Younger brother Sam (17) has recently joined Premier League newcomers Luton Town FC.
“I was up at my nanny’s when Yousef told me he had started coaching – Pheno Boxing – and that’s when he invited me to join him; I’ve been with him ever since,” Jack explained.
Jack has been training every day for the last 10 months and three fights in the youngster hopes to, one day, eke out a career in the professional ranks. The early signs are promising but he’s someone who intends to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
“These have all been hard fights; you’re basically operating at a semi-professional level. The event in Liverpool had fighters from all across the UK, some from as far away as Poland.
“The experience of the event was just mind-blowing. Just seeing the crowd and the amount of people who came over with me, as well as all the people back home wishing me well; it was overwhelming – amazing!”
The experience and the valuable five rounds will stand Jack in good stead as he continues his progression.
“It was a really tough fight. The first four rounds it was very close; it was sitting at a draw until the last round, which was basically best man wins going into the fifth and final round. I gave it my all and thankfully that was enough to get the decision which I was delighted with.”
As younger brother Sam hopes to make it in the professional game, Jack too is inspired by his sibling’s achievements – a friendly rivalry that will push them both on to greater things.
“We’re all football fans; my brother he’s playing for Luton,” said Jack. “Me and Sam are both real sporty; it’s who can do better – we’re always pushing each other.
“Hopefully I can turn professional in a few years but it’s part of a bigger journey. I’ll hopefully have another few fights this year, keep perfecting my craft.
“For now, I’m training every day, both in and out of the gym, it’s a mixed training regime.”
Jack has set his sights on achieving a lot but it’s fair to say dedication and hard work will not be an issue, but just like anyone in sport, he has a dream.
“Out of everywhere I’d love to fight – I’d love to fight in America – but ultimately the future goal is to have a title fight on the football pitch at Loughgall. You can’t beat home and there would be nothing like putting on a show at Lakeview.”