Have you ever held yourself back from doing something because you felt like you didn’t fit in and you wouldn’t be accepted? For most of us we can probably date this back to the schoolyard and unfortunately for a lot of us, into adulthood.
It isn’t always easy to find your tribe, especially when by definition, a tribe is bound by social, cultural, economic, religious and even blood ties. So let’s just imagine that you’re a young gay kid growing up in a small coastal town in New Zealand. You know you’re different but you are drawn to a sport that traditionally is perceived not to be accepting of gay participants.
You want to be a Boxer (insert gasp here!) and it takes you years and years before you strike up the courage to even set foot inside a boxing ring. But when you finally do, your world is turned upside down, in the best possible way.
Absolutely nothing gets us more excited than people who don’t let misconceptions and prejudices hold them back from pursuing their dreams and ambitions. And Shaun Jacobs, our M8 of May excites us a lot!
He is that young kid that not only wanted to break barriers but wants to create a safe space for like minded LGBTQI+ community members and their allies who want to put on a pair of gloves and fight for their right to left hook, right hook!
We are in love with this legend and here’s Shaun’s inspiring story.
NAME: Shaun Jacobs
CURRENT POSITION: Boxer – Boxing Coach @ The Sydney Hookers
WHERE IS YOUR HOME TEAM: Gizzy (Gisborne) New Zealand
WHAT’S YOUR GAME PLAN: The game plan is to grow the sport of boxing in the gay community. I am one of the very few openly gay males in amateur boxing, and when I spoke to other LGBTQI+ members about the sport, it was almost like a novelty. A taboo was still perceived around boxing for our community, and it is one of the last sports that this still exists in. I’ve had numerous conversations with members and allies of our community, all their response were more or less the same, ‘wow you’re a gay boxer’ or I’ve always wanted to do boxing, but I haven’t found somewhere that I could do it feeling safe.
So I started The Sydney Hookers to provide a safe space for the LGBTQI+ and our allies to get involved in the sport of boxing and learn the skills, techniques and joy boxing gives people including getting into the ring! The Sydney Hookers is currently the Southern Hemisphere’s only LGBTQI+ Boxing club.
WHAT’S YOUR STRATEGY TO ACHIEVE IT: Just to get the word out that we are here and that anyone, of any fitness level, or any age should come down and hit a bag and do one of our classes to get the true boxing experiences!
We are in the process of opening ‘The Brisbane Hookers’ and ‘The Melbourne Hookers’ to try and reach as many members of the LGBTQI+ community in Australia.
LIST 1 OR 2 ‘GOLD MEDAL’ MOMENTS IN YOUR LIFE: My number one ‘gold medal’ moment was stepping in the ring for the first time to fight my first amateur fight! I spent all my life wanting to get in the ring, and in 2020 I finally got the guts to set foot inside a boxing gym, Corporate Fighter, (after about 5 attempts to even enter the building). Once I walked in, I found my tribe there. I spent months of training with other first-time boxers and had my first fight, which was a charity fight night event which helped to raise money for Beyond Blue.
The second gold medal moment was starting ‘The Hookers’ boxing club and our first class being a sell-out. Seeing members of my community doing and enjoying the sport for the first time, reminded me of when I fell in love with boxing for the first time. They were able to experience the love of the sport that I have, and it’s all because of ‘The Hookers’. I didn’t realise until it happened, how much it would mean to me and my community.
And my personal current goal is to compete and take out the win at the gay world boxing championships that are being held here in Sydney in 2023 at the same time as World Pride. My coaches and I are currently putting together my training schedule which will start ramping up in the next few months with a lot more sparring, a few more lead up fights and of course the boxer's best friend...hours of skipping!
WHO ARE YOUR CHAMPIONS: I have a few champions!
Being the baby of the family, I’m a mama’s boy. My sister and mum made a massive impact in my life. I’m known to be gentle and softly spoken (the complete opposite of me in the ring). I also tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, because of the characteristics they have instilled in me, for which I am grateful.
My friends are a close second, they have championed me through the ups and downs of my life and have been there through the darkest moments of my mental health journey and I am thankful to have them in my life.
Lastly, my two personal boxing coaches. Ciara and Dwayne, they are like chalk and cheese with 50 years of boxing experience between them. They come at my training with differing approaches. Wayne’s old-school approach has taught me the skills he has gained through his 50 years in the industry. Ciara is the one who puts the fight in me to get into the ring and pumps me with the confidence to do this sport competitively. These two have kept me grounded in the sport, focused and on track. They were big supporters of me opening ‘The Hookers’ and gave me the push that I needed to do so.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES AN EVERYDAY CHAMPION:
Anyone who has had the lowest of the lows yet still manages to get themself up and out to face the world. I know how hard that is, so when I see members of our community struggling with mental health but still pushing on, it makes me more motivated in my life.
WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO: My favourite song also contains my motto I live by – I get knocked down, but I get up again, you are never gonna keep me down. – Chumbawamba