Jamie Speight: A Lesson with the In-Ring Teacher

by Michael Walsh

Jamie Speight has had about three boxing careers crammed into the span of his very eventful journey in the sport which is still ongoing. He tells a fascinating story of going from an up-and-coming contender to a championship fighter to an in-ring teacher who is now eyeing up a career as a coach when he eventually hangs up his gloves.

Rarely have I heard such gratitude from someone for what the sport of boxing has given to them, met with meaningful action behind that sentiment to give back to the sport and guide the young talent trying the make their way in it.

Humble Beginnings

Jamie’s actual introduction to the sport ironically came from a negative place but one quite familiar with other fighters. While his initial impression of boxing stemmed from watching it with his dad, obsessing over the brilliance of Mike Tyson, Jamie found his way to the boxing gym as a means of self-defence.

“I had been getting bullied at school from when I had started by the same group of kids. It had gone on right through my early school life from about five until seven years old. I’d been complaining at home about it, my mum and dad had gone into the school to talk about it and nothing had been done.

“My dad told me ‘I’m taking him the gym and he’s learning how to defend himself, simple.’ I was a bit of a wuss to be honest. So that was it, I went to the gym at seven years old. It was a bit daunting at first because it was something I had never been accustomed to other than watching on TV.

“I picked it up and by the time I had my first fight at 11, I had grown in confidence and a bit of self-esteem. I believed I could look after myself and I remember going back to secondary school when I was 12 and bumping into these kids who had bullied me. I gave three of them a right walloping and got sent home from school.”

A career in the Royal Marines?

After having a productive amateur career which included junior ABA finals, semi-finals and bouts against the likes of Tommy Langford and Sam Maxwell, Jamie found himself at a crossroads in life at the age of 15 when he left school on ‘study leave’.

“As soon as I left on study leave, I didn’t touch a book, pen or pencil. I went out and got myself a set of spanners and was out scaffolding with my dad at the age of 15. In my head, going into further education didn’t always mean you had a good job.”

After growing bored with his first venture in the working world, Jamie decided to explore other avenues. “I didn’t think about turning pro, I looked to the Army and things like that. I decided that if I’m going to go to the Army I want to be with the best so I went with the Royal Marines.

‘I was in Royal Marine recruitment training and I got as far as week 23 but I had been in touch with people in boxing and I had got an offer to turn professional. After spending a few weeks thinking about it and speaking to the lads in my team they said: ‘follow your dream, you’ll regret it if you don’t.’ That’s what I did. I pulled out of marine training. I came home and started training.”

Pro career off to a flyer

I reminded Jaime that his professional career had got off to a perfect start; winning his first eight contests but he was quick to tell me that his sharp start may not have been all that it seemed.

“The thing I’ve learnt with professional boxing is that nine times out of ten, you are not told the truth. As a young aspiring pro, you want to believe all the good you hear and you do, you believe it until the end of the earth.

“That’s why now I’ve sent away for my training license so I can pass on what I’ve learnt, make sure young fighters aren’t left in the dark and know how hard this game is. It’s no good me lying to you and saying you can be world champion, you’ll earn millions and its easy because you can’t. There’s only a handful who do that.

“But it was amazing, I was 8-0 and beating everyone easily with a good amateur style. I was still converting from that amateur style to that pro-style. I wasn’t really an inside fighter.

A career-changing fight with Josh Warrington

“I just did the same as when I left the Royal Marines, we have one shot at this, let’s try it.”