By Thomas Lyons of TheFightBusiness.WordPress.com
Tottenham based fighter Jeffrey Ofori (5-0) insists he is close to securing a Southern Area title shot this year. The undefeated Ofori opens up on how boxing gave him focus and ambition to be the best version of himself. Born in Hackney, but raised in the Borough of Tottenham from the age of 7, the 28-year old talks to me about the success he’s had on the amateur scene and making the transition to the professional ranks.
His next fight will be on the British Warriors Promotion at the Woodside Leisure Centre, Watford, where he’ll be looking to move to 6-0 this Saturday. As part of a big night of boxing, some of the best local talents will be on display, including Jez Smith (9-0-1, 4 KOs) and the return of Super-middleweight Danny ‘The Real Deal’ Shannon after a three-year layoff.
Firstly, I asked Jeffrey to describe the amateur days and how he was introduced to boxing. He replied, ” I went to an all-boys secondary school and grew up on a council estate so to be ‘hard’ as we would say was a must. I was 19 and at an all-time low, not knowing what to do with my life.” Elaborating on his previous experience in the sport, Ofori explained how he ‘had done a little training when [he] was 13/14.’ In fact ‘my next door neighbour was into boxing and suggested I get into it to help me gain focus back in my life.’
Before turning professional, Ofori had built himself an impressive pedigree in the amateurs, with 36 fights, 2 GB assessments, boxed for London twice and competed nationally representing his country. However, arguably his greatest achievement was winning the Haringey Box Cup and a collection of amateur titles has brought him to where he is today.
Boxing has given Jeffrey a sense of direction and purpose to his life, but sometimes a lot of the deprived boroughs in inner London get stereotyped for the wrong reasons, where young people go down the wrong path and are sidetracked by the growing culture of gangs, violence and drugs. I asked Jeffrey whether boxing gave him the discipline to escape that lifestyle and whether there was a moment he thought he would be dragged into this cycle?
He responded, “I wouldn’t say I was involved in serious crime but I am no angel. Fortunately for me, I have an older brother so I saw where that life leads you. I can confidently say it is not the life for me. It is enticing because as a young man with so much energy to burn it does provide you with that adrenaline rush. I am very grateful for the help of my family and friends and managed to direct this energy to box. A special thank you goes to my wife. I love and owe a lot to her. Ultimately, boxing fulfils me.”
Thirdly, what are your ambitions for 2018? Have you set your sights on the Southern Area title, before moving up the professional ladder?
“I want the Southern Area title in 2018. I will get this belt by any means necessary. I am ready for whatever. Come one come all. We are here for it all. We take no prisoners, No retreat no surrender.”
Getting the opportunity to fight on small hall shows at the mecca of boxing, York Hall in your first five professional bouts and now part of a huge stable on the British Warriors promotion this weekend, how has the platform given you the exposure you need?
“Fighting on small hall shows at York Hall for me is fantastic. To everyone else it may be a small hall but when I step out this everything to me. I will be on a Watford bill with British Warriors and it’s a different venue but I have the same attitude. ‘This is my life, this is everything.’ ‘These shows have given me the exposure within the boxing world but I’m only really known amongst the dedicated boxing fans.”
You currently campaign between Super-Featherweight and Lightweight, moving down ever so slightly to 130lbs. Which weight category do you feel more comfortable at in order to see the best of Jeffrey Ofori?
“I feel comfortable at both weights because there are only 2kgs between light and super-featherweight. I’ll continue at super feather until I can no longer make the weight. I can guarantee that at whatever weight I’m at, it will be a problem for my opponent. I’ve been trying to get the AJ fight but he wants 50mil lool.’
Focusing on the domestic scene, we saw James Tennyson defeat Martin J Ward to win the European and Commonwealth titles on the Bellew-Haye II card. How far do you see yourself targeting the British title and getting the big fights that will elevate your career?
“I’m all in mate. My motto is ‘big risk takers only deal with high stakes.’ All or nothing, if it was up to me personally I want those fights now but I will listen to my team coach Bevis and manager Mark Prior. I know they have my best interests at heart at this moment in time. However, I am in this game of legacy so sooner or later when the opportunity does come knocking I will kick that door down or die trying.”
Furthermore, two of the best pound for pound stars shared the ring last Saturday night, Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko. The fight ended with a sickening body shot picked by Lomachenko in the tenth round with Linares sent to the canvas.
Did you manage to watch the fight and how impressed were you with Lomachenko moving up in weight in just twelve fights to face a world class operator in Linares?
“Yeah was a great fight. Would like to see a second fight in fact. Lomachenko is a great strategist but that fight showed he is still human and I believe someone with my style and hunger will be a very big problem for him. Just saying that’s all. Well done to Linares. Another top quality fighter who gave Lomachenko his first taste of the canvas and I can give him another taste if he’s up for it.”
With the recent knife crime epidemic in London, should the boxing community be doing more to create awareness of local gyms and get more young people involved and off the streets?
“I certainly think the boxing community should. My amateur gym was literally a 20-minute walk from my secondary school but not once did I see them in school promoting boxing. Like I said earlier a lot of these young people have a lot of energy positively so it becomes negative. I’m definitely up for helping out the younger generation and am in talks with a school in Tottenham to set up an after-school boxing programme for the kids.”
Finally, what can the public expect on Saturday at the Woodside Leisure Centre? Do you know much about the opponent? Will you be looking to make a statement as you climb to 6-0?
“This Saturday at the Woodside. ‘This is everything’ like I said before. A mate of mine Londonivygram (check him out on Instagram) made my intro song for this fight so I’m going to be revved up. On Saturday at the Woodside, this is not a boxing bout you will see, ‘THIS IS MY LIFE, THIS IS EVERYTHING.”
Jeffrey would like to give a special mention to his coach Bevis Allen, manager Mark Prior and British Warriors and Rooney’s Boxing Gym (London Bridge) where he trains out of.
To all my sponsors KingTeam, SQUAT FACE, 121 BOXING, thanks a million and love always.
Cheers King J.
Best of luck to Jeffrey on Saturday night and for all his future endeavours inside and outside of the ring.
To follow Jeffrey’s career, check him out on Twitter @JF3Ofori