Sunderland’s Tony Jeffries admitted that winning a bronze medal at the Olympics was the pinnacle of his career, but since then he’s gone on to have a successful career as a model, actor, gym owner and personal trainer – not to mention an undefeated professional boxing career.
‘The Mighty Mackam’ explained that he went on an eight year training programme to prepare himself for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to achieve his goal of winning a medal
“My biggest goal was to win the 2008 Olympic games , I got put on an eight year training program at the age of 16 in the year 2000, it was amazing feeling to qualify for the games and then to bring a medal back, and even though it wasn’t a gold it was still amazing.
“My toughest opponent was the guy that beat me in the semis, Kenny Egan from Ireland, he was a strong southpaw and very clever,” Jeffries added.
Tony Jeffries credits his Grandad as the person who inspired him to start boxing and his uncle William Young “Billy” Bryce was the boxer who he looked up too when he was growing up.
“Ever since I learned to walk my grandad had me throwing punches on his hands. His son, my uncle was a pro boxer, when I was 10 my dad took me to the gym and that was it,” Jeffries said.
On the back of his success at the Olympics, Jeffries signed a professional contract with boxing promoter Frank Maloney in January 2009.
“After the Olympics my choices were either stay amateur for the 2012 Olympics, or turn pro for a big bag of cash, you know what I did, it was an easy decision.”
After impressing in Beijing, Jeffries won BBC North East Sports Personality of the Year and Legend of the North Award.
He said: “That was amazing feeling. I just got back from the Olympics and never realized how big an Olympic medal was and the impact that came with it. This started to make it sink in.”
After receiving these awards others followed, including being made an Ambassador for the City of Sunderland.
“It’s great to be a City of Sunderland ambassador. I’ve been promoting the city for many years in many different ways so it was great to get the “Key” for the city,” he added.
The former professional boxer enjoyed an undefeated professional career before a recurring hand problem forced Jeffries to have hand surgery in 2012. Unfortunately for the Sunderland man, he waited to be able to train again but it never fully healed and he was forced to retire.
Jeffries explained: “It was very hard to retire as I had done this since the age of 10 and I had nothing to fall back on.”
One consolation, however, was the undefeated record he retired with: “It was huge. Even though I only had 10 fights it still sounds good to tell people that now.”
Jeffries acknowledged the thing that he misses most about boxing is “The feeling when you win, and being in the spot light” however ‘Jaffa’ admitted one thing he doesn’t miss is making the weight for a fight.
“It was the lifestyle of thinking about your nutrition 24/7, thinking about every single thing that goes into your mouth. I love food so since I retired I’ve more than made up for the years I missed it.”
Since retiring Jeffries has tried his hand at a few different things including, modelling for Levi’s, acting in ‘The Blacklist’ and appearing in a couple of Skylar Grey songs.
“It’s crazy, I’m a huge optimist and if I see a small opportunity I will grab it with both hands. I always talk about how big it is to network and how far it goes, it’s not something I try to do, it’s something that just happens because of the person I am.”
In 2013 Jeffries opened Box N Burn gym in Santa Monica and it was voted the number one gym in LA.
“My daily routine these days involves a little training, but more working with staff and others that work in the company.
“There is way more to owning a gym in California than meets the eye. Since being in the US I’ve trained a hand full of people like Chris Hemsworth, Travis Barker, Tim Tebow and a few more. They all have amazing work ethic like professional athletes, and this is why they are successful because they work hard.”
While at his gym, Jeffries started to train UFC Fighter Brendan Schuab and Jeffries admitted that it was a completely different challenge from training boxers.
“It is a huge difference, you have to worry about kicks, take downs and a lot more than just standing up boxing. I loved the challenge and loved to work with so many great people in that MMA world, Brendan is now one of my best friends.”