The latest edition of Gym Visits saw yours truly make the short journey across the River Tyne to the West End of Newcastle, to visit Jobes’ Gym. We have been familiar with the work of Matt Jobes for a while now without actually making his acquaintance, in particular him being in the corner of Sam Best.
Matt is a well-known and equally well respected figure in the North East and is doing his part to increase the profile of boxing here, not just his own fighters. When we found the gym, tucked just off a main road, we were greeted by Matt and several of his team. One of whom, Keith McDonald, is largely responsible for the burgeoning relationship with Black Flash Promotions (Headed by the Black Flash himself, Pat Barrett). This partnership is certainly one to watch out for in 2017. Keith is a coach at the gym and his relationship goes back to their respective amateur experiences. He used to run a boxing gym in Alnwick and took his boxers to spar in Manchester, with those training under Brian Hughes. They included a young Pat Barrett, making his way as an amateur. Speaking to him for a few minutes was enough to know he has vast boxing experience and is extremely knowledgeable about the sport.
Due to a delay (having an actual day job away from British Boxing Blog and some hellish traffic) we missed most of the hustle and bustle associated with a boxing gym. Matt assured us that had we managed to get there on time, we would have witnessed many of the classes offered to youths in the area and several other locals who pay to use the facilities and get something resembling the experience of being a boxer. This is an offering that we have seen in most of the gyms we’ve visited, however speaking to Matt Jobes there is a warm sincerity to how he sees his role at his gym. He spoke like a father to most of the young men he works with, really taking an interest in their well-being and behaviour outside of the gym.
Unlike several gyms, there wasn’t a sole focus on the professional side of the sport but also the recreational side of the sport. That said, we did witness first hand one young amateur, Tommy, who Matt has high hopes for in the paid ranks, eventually. I will never tire of seeing boxers work the pads or spar. In this instance the teenager worked the pads with his dad while Matt sang his praises. From my untrained eye, he combined movement and spite well to leave his old man struggling to take his shots. The only one unimpressed was Tommy himself who was “always hard himself” according to the trainers. A trait that may help him on his way to professional honours.
Since we visited the gym, Sam Best has lost his undefeated record with a shock defeat to the tough Pole Krzysztof Golec on a recent show held at Newcastle Racecourse. At 23, Best is certainly young enough to bounce back and had only recently returned to the ring after a sustained period of inactivity. Regardless of his previous result, Sam will continue to improve with more regular action and is still a talent to watch, going forward.
We were gutted to have missed that show, which also featured Jone TK’s first pro loss, as it promised action and delivered by all accounts. In a perverse twist of fate, this sort of local show (where local boxers don’t have things their own way) could potentially attract more fans to the sport which is the aim of Jobes Gym and Black Flash pooling resources. Pat’s nephew Zelfa featured on the bill moving to 14-0 and having that calibre of fighter box in the area can only be a good thing. The link between the North East and North West may not seem like the most logical, in terms of building local support, however it makes perfect sense in bringing talented boxers into the area. Not only for sparring, as has taken place, but also to showcase their skills to a new audience. We are biased here, but North East boxing fans are generally knowledgeable about the sweet science (some of us are anyway) and will appreciate skill regardless of where a boxer hails from. And from the boxers’ point of view, they get a great opportunity to build their reputation on a larger scale than they would normally be afforded.
We would like to offer a huge thanks to Matt and his team for welcoming us into the gym and sharing their visions and ideas for boxing. Like many others we have spoken to, Matt’s enthusiasm for the sport extends beyond a job and becomes his life. We could easily have stayed and chatted about boxing (as well as listening to tales from his own youth. One in particular ended up with him partying with Madness after a chance encounter at Eldon Square) with him for many more hours than we already did.