Any person that boxes at a high level must show serious commitment but Jake Tucker takes that idea to a whole new level.
The Ulster middleweight boxes this week for Ireland at the European Youth (U18) Championships in Bulgaria and few will have matched his preparations.
Tucker spent six months in Liverpool this year, dilligently training ahead of his third underage continental championships and is aiming to bring a medal back home from Sofia.
Searching for the missing ingredient, the then-17-year-old has spent a chunk of time living and breathing boxing at the famous Salisbury ABC on Merseyside and now feels ready to make a big impression ahead of his arrival to the adult ranks.
“I was living in Liverpool, I’d only come home for three days a month,” Tucker explained to Irish-Boxing.com before he flew out to Eastern Europe.
“I went away to Liverpool for a while to get some sparring because there was very little happening for me over here. I got six months sparring with pros twice, maybe three times, a week.”
A perhaps daunting experience for a teenage, Tucker is now thankful for his time at ‘The Solly’, during which he won the Haringey Box Cup.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener, I saw what I had to do,” he continued.
“It was hard but it was good – there was zero distraction, I just slept and trained, pure boxing. Whenever I was in the gym I was in with the best in England, all the pros, it was great.”
“In Ireland I’d be training in the club with two or three other boxers, it was good like, but it’s not the same as the feeling you’d get training with 50 other boxers who are all at national level, where it’s real competitive. You had loads of people to push you on whereas, at home, you’re sort of going through the motions.”
“I got in with a few of the pros and I didn’t do bad against them at all so I know in a couple of years I can get to that level.”
“It was brilliant preparation and it means I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been.”
An eight-time Irish underage champion, Emerald’s Tucker has been on the international stage before and details how “I captained the Schoolboys team and was vice-captain of the Juniors. I was beat on split decisions [at the European Championships].
“Hopefully I get a decent draw this year and bring home gold, that’s what I’m aiming for anyway.”
Of course, Tucker is the younger brother, by 18 months, of Kane – who is set to represent Ireland at light heavyweight in the Elite World Championships in Russia in a few weeks time.
Similar in weight but different in style, there is a potential headache on the horizon.
While all focus for Jake is on this week and next in Sofia, his time in the headguard will soon be at an end and he will join his brother in the Elite ranks.
A bit further down the road then there could be the proposition of both vying for the #1 spot in the country.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Tucker outlines how “there’s the Seniors [Intermediates], hopefully I’ll enter them, win them, and then it’s on to the Elites with Kane.”
“I’d be more of a backfoot or mid-range boxer whereas Kane would be on the front foot as an aggressor. I’d probably be the more technical boxer whereas Kane overpowers his opponents.”
“We’ll have to find a way to work it because I’m sitting at 75kg at the minute, I’m not struggling, I’m quite happy, but obviously I’ve still a few kilos to put on because I’m not quite a man yet. We’ll both be at 81kg so we’ll have to see what happens.”
While they have shared the ring in training countless times, a competitive meeting is not on the cards
“I don’t think our da’ would let us!” laughs Tucker
Tucker and the 17 other members of Ireland’s Youth squad learnt their fates at the official draw in Sofia this afternoon – the results of which will be shared when made available.
Boxing begins tomorrow and will run until September 10th