Gentleman Jack: Badou Jack interview
Luke G. Williams
Photos: Top to bottom: Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Christian Petersen/Getty Images; Badou Jack Foundation
Former two-weight world champion Badou Jack talks to Luke G. Williams about his life in and out of the ring, and his move into boxing promotion...
Swedish born, Las Vegas-based light heavyweight Badou Jack is known by the nickname 'The Ripper', but the "Gentleman' sobriquet attached to the likes of Gene Tunney and Jim Corbett in days gone by would probably be a more appropriate moniker for the scrupulously polite 35-year-old whose warrior heart in the ring is complemented by his out of the ring kindness, humility and humanitarianism.
Last year Jack launched ‘The Badou Jack Foundation’, along with his business partner the world kick-boxing champion Amer Abdallah. The foundation's express aim is to help malnourished and underprivileged children in the most deprived parts of the globe.
'It's going great," Jack says. "We're still working with Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan. We're going to do some work in Gambia soon. Everything's going well. I have an education centre for kids in Jordan too in a Palestinian refugee camp. That work is going great."
Jack argues that it is his duty to use the fame and wealth accrued from his highly successful boxing career to benefit those less fortunate than himself. It's a mission he sees himself continuing long after he hangs up his gloves.
"Definitely, I'm definitely going to continue with it. It's not about profit, except from God. I want to help as much as I can and I think more people should use their fame for such reasons."
Now Jack is adding a further string to his bow by moving into boxing promotion, with his new venture, Badou Jack Promotions and Events LLC, presenting its inaugural event 'Knockout Night at Five' at the Five Palms Jumeriah Hotel in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on Friday 3 May.
"We're still finalising all the names but cruiserweight Viddal Riley [2-0, 2 KOs] is going to be the main event," Jack tells Boxing Monthly of the bill which will also feature some kickboxing bouts.
"He's a UK fighter and prospect who has a huge social media following, he trained KSI, one of the biggest Youtubers in the world [for his fights against Joe Weller and Logan Paul]. He can fight too. He's a good kid.
"Viddal is fighting a tough opponent for his third fight. His name's Mo Ali, he's 12-1 with 12 KOs. It's a pretty tough fight for his third fight but we believe in him. He's got a lot of talent and I'm looking forward to that fight."
The 21-year-old Riley had an impressive amateur background, representing West Ham ABC, while also winning myriad junior titles, including the junior English and British titles and participating in the 2014 Youth Olympics. Now based in Las Vegas and trained by Jeff Mayweather, he has a large social media following, which will help build the profile of Jack's debut promotional offering.
"KSI will be there and Amir Khan and some other special guests," Jack reveals. "A lot of celebrities from Dubai will be there as well. It will be a huge event."
Major boxing events have periodically been linked with the UAE since the first ever pro boxing event in the country way back in 1997, when Chris Eubank Sr knocked out Colombian Camilo Alarcon at the Aviation Tennis Club in Dubai.
However, boxing has never really gained a stranglehold in either the UAE or the Middle East and aside from the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final between George Groves and Callum Smith last year, which took place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the region's potential as a boxing hotspot has largely gone untapped.
Jack is confident he can change this.
"I believe so," he says. "I'm a Muslim and in a Muslim country I think that helps a bit. We need to start slowly. In the past people have talked about Manny Pacquiao or Amir Khan fighting in the Middle East, but I think you need to build things up gradually and then push on from there. Maybe one day I might fight in the Middle East if I'm still active.
"All the glitz and glamour is there in Dubai. It's like Las Vegas on steroids! It's very beautiful, there's a lot of money and rich people on vacation or who live there. I think Dubai is the place to be.
"As with my own boxing career we will take one show at a time and see where we go. But we definitely want to expand to different countries eventually, maybe one day we'll do a show in the UK or Sweden, but right now all the focus is on 3 May and Dubai - after that we're gonna expand and have some fun."
Jack then explained how fans worldwide will be able to view the event. "It will be on fite.tv. We're going to stream it there. Right now it's $6.99 to pre-order. That's not very expensive, so we're hoping lots of people will tune in."
Among the other boxers on the bill will be the talented 29-year-old Swedish light heavyweight Oscar Ahlin (17-2, 15 KOs).
"He's a very skilful and talented young guy," Jack says of Ahlin. "He's been like a little brother to me ever since he was a kid of maybe 14 or 15. I've been sparring him since he was young. He was my sparring partner when I fought George Groves I think. He's a good kid, he's like family to me so I wanted him on the card. I want to show people that Sweden has some exciting fighters not just me. We've tried to mix it up with all kinds of nationalities on the bill."
We then turn our attention to Jack's own career, specifically his unanimous decision loss to Marcus Browne in January when he suffered a horrific cut to his forehead which significantly hampered him.
"It was unfortunate. I shouldn't have lost to a guy like that. But the cut happened, and we also had some issues the day of the fight after the weigh-in but no excuses. It happened. The cut is healing pretty well right now. I'm hoping to be back in August or September. We'll see if we can get a rematch or a fight with someone else. I'm not sure right now but we'll see what happens.
"I've faced six world champions back to back plus Marcus Browne, a top undefeated prospect, so yeah, I've had some tough fights and opponents but I haven't taken much punishment apart from that cut. So maybe I'll have a tune-up fight next. It might be time for that! We'll see."
Pre-Order ‘Knockout Night’ and save 30% for a LIMITED TIME here…https://www.fite.tv/watch/knockout-night/2oiw3/
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