By Boxing Bob Newman
We’ve all seen it before, the offspring of a famous boxer trying to follow in their dad’s footsteps: Ronald Hearns, James McGirt Jr., Hector “Machito” Camacho, Marvis Frazier. Heck even the daughters have tried their hands, or fists, at the game: Laila Ali, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde, Freeda Foreman, Irichelle Duran. The newest generation of progeny to lace of the gloves in the hope to capture some of the glory that once belonged to their famous dad comes in the form of not one, but two young pugilists-Julius and John Jackson, sons of Julian “The Hawk” Jackson. On January 30th on their home turf of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, the two former Olympic representatives at the 2008 Beijing games will step through the ropes as professionals for the first time, each with their dad in their corner. It will be a night of many firsts, including the new U.S. Virgin Islands Boxing Commission, and the debut of 340 Promotions, headed up by super agent/matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz and Lesley Comissiong.Fightnews caught up with “The Hawk” the hear what he had to say about his sons, big time boxing coming back to his home land and more….
Julian, it’s been about four years since we last talked at your gym. I had a chance to watch your sons John and Julius on television at the Beijing Olympics and now they’re turning pro.
I remember, believe me I remember! What a small world and now things have come full circle.
When we talked back in 2005, you had hopes of boxing one day returning to the island and now four long years later, it’s here with your boys on the bill. Tell us a little bit about your feelings of both being the coach of the USVI boxing team and two of your sons representing the islands in the Olympic games.
You know back when I was representing the Virgin Island in the Pan American games, we didn’t get to go to the 1980 Olympics because of Carter’s boycott. It was a big letdown. My heart, all my energy was geared toward the Olympics and then BOOM, the door was shut. That’s when I turned pro after that. Now I’m retired, I’m the trainer for the Virgin Islands and my two sons qualified. On paper they were not supposed to qualify. But because of the discipline, the hard work and dedication, it paid off and they did qualify. I was so grateful. The experience it self was like, I’m basically going to the Olympics, in my sons’ shadow!
Back when I first met, you, I didn’t know anything about your kids, but a lot of fighters don’t want their kids to follow in their footsteps in the ring. What was your thought on that?
You know, my first boy, Julian Jr., tried boxing. He was tremendous, he was lightning fast. His main goal was to be in the communications industry. He said, ‘Dad, I don’t think boxing is going to be my forte’ or my career.’ I told him I understood and I backed him 100% in his choice. Right now he’s at the top of what he’s doing. He’s a technician and he’s doing tremendous. He loves it and that’s what it’s all about you know? My other two sons, John and Julius showed interest, John especially being the youngest of the three. I told them if they decide to turn pro, I’m with them 100%. My second oldest is Julius Jackson and he has a lot of interest in cooking! He just graduated from a culinary school in Miami. He’s known as the “Fighting Chef,” (laughter in the background). My thing is for them to follow their dreams, their goals. Just because I was a three time world champion, doesn’t mean that they have to follow in my footsteps. Now Julius can become a renowned cook! He worked hard, made it to the Olympics and now he wants to turn pro. John- all he wants to do is box. He also made it to the Olympics and now he’s entering his first professional fight. So it’s all good and I’m really excited about what’s happening here in St. Thomas. It’s not just my boys. We have a lot of boys working with us that I believe will definitely make a mark on boxing.
Four years ago, you were training a heavyweight Stacy Frazier who had signed with Don King and there were big hopes that didn’t happen. I know you were optimistic about boxing returning to the USVI, but now that it’s really happening, you’ve got to be over the moon.
You know, it’s all about making history. I think this will blow the roof off the top. I really believe that we have so many people from the promoters who are working with us, to the fighters like my sons, I have a nephew, I have a kid from Aruba, and I think this will be one of the best promotions in the Caribbean if not the world.
Sampson Lewkowicz is very optimistic about the possibility of St. Thomas and the USVI becoming a major player in boxing. I believe your name has a lot to do with that.
Everybody is all excited about what’s happening here. I’m trying not to get my hopes up too high, but it’s just instinct, you know it’s a natural feeling. Oh my goodness! We want boxing to return not just to the Virgin Islands, but to the Caribbean. We have St. Croix, St. John, St. Maarten, Aruba, Puerto Rico. We have the whole Caribbean! We don’t need to be selfish. We can move it around and withing a short time, have some of our guys fighting for a minor title.
With the scoring in the Olympics and the boxing styles that are employed to have any chance of success in the amateur game, it’s hard to gauge their true styles and strengths. Can you give us some indication of those? Also, what about the obvious comparisons to you their father who was a devastating puncher?
Oh Boy! You can look at both of them right off the bat and see that they have different styles. Julius is tall, lanky. He uses a lot of jabs, movement, combinations. He’s not a knockout artist. He’s more of a technician. Julius is a guy who will pivot, jab, move, dance, he will throw combinations. He can take a punch too. John on the other hand, is a counter puncher. He can hit hard as well. He always wants to get off shots, he always wants to connect. Of all the boys working with me, John is the one who has the hardest punch. His power even surprises me. I think he will be the one who will follow in my footsteps as far as knockout ratio is concerned. You can see the differences in each of them. I have to train them differently, I can’t train them the same way. I really enjoy the opportunity to work with these guys.
At any point from the first day they ever donned gloves until now, did you ever find yourself having the conversation with them about not trying to be like you, with all the knockouts?
Yes. I told them, “Listen, don’t allow yourself to be put under pressure by anybody or by yourselves. Most of my fights ended in three rounds. I was a knockout artist if you want to look at it that way. That doesn’t mean you have to be one. That doesn’t mean you have to knock everyone out. You go out there and do your best to win. If the knockout comes, great. But don’t put pressure on yourselves to be like me. You’re not me, your not like me. Be who you are. Be John and be Julius.” I think they understand that. I think by me being close with them and sharing this with them, it will alleviate a lot of the pressure that will come from the outside.
At this stage of young career, it’s hard to know anything about your fighters’ opponents. Have you had any say in the picking of their opponents?
We are working with good a matchmaker and I think that is key. The main thing is that the guy doesn’t have too much experience and we have an exciting night. Because my boys don’t have any pro experience, our opponents don’t know anything about us either. Those guys will train harder knowing they’re going to go up against an Olympian. We have guys who feel they have a lot to offer and that’s why I believe it’s gonna be a fantastic show. Boxing in paradise! You know St. Thomas was very popular here in St. Thomas. When I was an amateur, we had guys fighting and training here, champions like Roberto Duran, Carlos “Sugar” DeLeon and lots of the champs from Puerto Rico. It died out, but it’s BACK now!
Julian, it’s been a pleasure and it’ll be great to meet up with you again and see your boys turn pro!
Believe me, you’re gonna enjoy every minute of it. All we can do is try and make it work. We also appreciate your input being the largest boxing network on the ‘net! Thanks so much!