Jimmy Kelly Jr. is preparing for a big year, with two fights locked in in the early months of 2021 for the one-time world title challenger.
Kelly turned pro young, emerging out of the heralded Jimmy Egan’s gym in this native Wythenshawe, Manchester. Egan’s gym has played host to countless great fighters with the most notable being Tyson Fury, a fighter who has openly campaigned to raise awareness for mental health.
Kelly discussed the importance of career planning and support in boxing and how it’s a necessity for a fighter to have a solid support structure.
The multi-time international champion said, “It’s imperative in boxing that you have a support structure. I have a fantastic one in Arnie Farnell, JMB Management, Team Havoc, people with real global experience in the business and boxing world but most importantly I have a loving and supportive family but I’m lucky, not all fighters have this and they go down the wrong routes that can have fatal consequences. It’s very sad to see.
“Mental health plays a massive part in any boxers career. If a fighter is a strong mentality he can go all the way, but it’s after a loss or a downturn in their career like what’s happened at the moment. Nobody is earning at all for the most part, and it’s demoralizing. There’s nobody really to offer advice away from family. Some managers barely communicate with their boxers, which I understand it’s a business, but somebody has to look out for the well being of fighters more so in my opinion.
“A lot of fighters just get paid, go out, and enjoy the money and the lifestyle. I don’t drink or party myself, I have two kids and a fiancé and they’re my priority away from boxing but I’m lucky. Even with those, I’ve seen fighters fall away mentally during and after their careers, and I think going forward there needs to be an established body to help boxers during and after their career with the likes of health and well-being services, insurance, and pension planning for life after boxing. There’s nothing in boxing right now for this and it needs to happen.
“I’ve seen so many fighters fall by the wayside because they have no support network. Boxers can be used as objects. When they’re use is done, there’s nobody there for them. There’s a saying about checking who’s calling you after you lose and it’s true. There needs to be an affiliation of some form between boxers, such as a union, to create a proper support structure for boxers during and after their career.”
Kelly heads in to a big 2021, with a move to middleweight being the start of a making up for lost time period. The Wythenshawe man elaborated, “I’ve got a real global team in place with JMB Management and Andre Rozier’s Team Havoc looking out for me and they’re working hard to make doors open for me and plan correct routes for my career now and in the future. I’m very grateful for this backing as it’s not a given in boxing.
“I’ve seen Eubank Jr. has signed with Team Sauerland and I discussed the idea of that fight down the line. I have to get back into contention but my mindset right now is that this is a done thing already based on the good plans we have in place. If the Sauerland’s want to do an event with Eubank Jr in the UK against a world level opponent, I’m game.
“My eyes are on another crack at the world title. So Eubank Jr or someone like Demetrius Andrade who is always struggling for opponents I’d be happy to come in and fight given the opportunity. I think Andrade is outstanding but he doesn’t seem to fight much so I’ll when I’m back in the ratings I’d be happy to change that fact.”