Danny Jacobs eyeing spot in 2008 Olympics

By Socrates Palmer Jr


Danny Jacobs eyeing spot in 2008 Olympics

U.S. Olympic Trials Preview - Part 4

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials draw was set on Sunday night in Houston, Texas. Forty-four quarterfinal bouts will be contested in Monday’s opening day of action. The winners will then advance to the second round of winners’ bracket action. One of the favorites in this week long tournament is middleweight Daniel Jacobs, one of the best amateur boxers in the country and a legitimate chance for a medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. The aspiring Olympian took timeout to chat with Boxingtalk, as he prepares to take another step in quest of making his dreams a reality.

“I’m not a statistic, I grew up in a tough neighborhood and I saw a lot of stuff happen around me and I know people that did the wrong thing, but that was never me. I grew up with my mom, my grandmother and my aunt lived next door to us. I was lucky enough to have a lot of love and support around me growing up. My grandmother is a Jehovah's witness and she don’t play that. I was never a follower growing up, and I was always my own person. I consider myself a mentally strong person also,” said Jacobs.

The one time Jacobs followed peer pressure it was in a positive direction. It would turn out to be one of the best decisions he ever made. “I went with a few friends of mine to the gym one day and I remember hitting the bag and it was like love at first sight. I just loved everything about it, the smell of the gym, the sounds of the speed bag. I knew that this was it for me, that I had found a new home,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs’ “new home” was actually across the street from where he lived in the Howard Houses, located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. In this city housing project, Jacobs grew up along with his two other siblings under the watchful and strict guidance of his mother and grandmother. Jacobs credits his strong family upbringing with keeping him on the right path. In what is too stereotypical, many inner city African-American youths succumb to the “glamour” of the streets.  Jacobs is certainly not one of them.

Despite growing up in a household of all women, Jacobs had strong male figures in his life as a youth. Jacobs' father was divorced from his mother when he was 3 years old, but was always present in Jacobs' life, and will make the trip from Virginia to see his son compete in the trials this week. Two other men who have helped cultivate Jacobs’ skills are Victor Roundtree and Andre Rozier. Roundtree has been with Jacobs since he first laced up the gloves as a 15-year-old youth. Also in the mix is the recently added former world champion and arguably the greatest American amateur boxer ever, Mark Breland.

“I’ve got a strong team behind me and they all bring something to the table. They bring experience and they know me as a fighter and as a person. I’ve trained very hard for this moment and I’m ready to see the fruits of my labor pay out this week,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs who’s amateur resume includes a record of 130 wins with only 5 defeats, is considered a favorite in almost any tournament he enters. In the past three years, he has won several amateur tournaments. In 2006 he was the middleweight National Champion. In 2005, he was crowned the National PAL Champion, in that same year he won the National Golden Gloves Championship for the second time, duplicating his feat from 2004.
“The 2004 national open class tournament win was very special to me, not only because it was the first time I won it, but also it was on NBC. It was the biggest stage I had ever been on and plus, Winky Wright did the commentating for NBC and he spoke well of me, so that is something that I’ll always remember,” said Jacobs.

Regardless of his accomplishments Jacobs says that this is the biggest tournament he has ever been. The 20 year old has spent the last three weeks in Texas to get himself acclimated to the weather in the Lone Star State. This strategy is something that Jacobs did not utilize when he suffered his last defeat. One of the most anticipated match-ups in the field will be when Jacobs meets Shawn Porter this evening. Fellow Olympian hopeful Porter of Ohio denied the Brooklynite this year National championships. Porter defeated Jacobs by the scores of 26-21 in the quarterfinals of the 2007 U.S. Championships. Jacob’s attest this loss to the Mile High Altitude in Colorado.

“Not too take anything away from Shawn he’s good but my biggest mistake was outside of the ring. I trained in Florida instead of Colorado and I really took the high altitude for granted. I was just out of gas and was tired in about the 3rd round. I give him credit, but when I’m on we are not even on the same level. No one is and this week everyone will see what I mean. The outcome will be different this time, no ifs and ands about it,” stated Jacobs.

Can you really blame Jacobs for his confidence? On Monday night it will be the fifth meeting between the two young men, and Jacobs as of today holds a 3-1 edge in their encounters. Jacobs says that along with this being the biggest tournament he has been in, he is relishing the fact that he is on the cusp of realizing his Olympic dreams. Jacobs said growing up he really did not follow amateur boxing, but that when he got his first taste of traveling and competing for USA Boxing, that he was enamored with the whole Olympic feel instantly.

“My goal and my dream has always been to win a Gold Medal for the U.S. Being around the spirit and unity of the Olympics is pretty amazing,” said Jacobs. 

Jacobs is looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Brownsville, native Riddick Bowe, who represented the United States in the 1988, Olympic Games. Bowe was also the last New York City native to make the U.S. Olympic team.


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