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New Smigga in town

‘I don’t know what it is. When I get in the ring, I become an animal; I just want to hurt people. It sounds bad doesn’t it?’ While the young Jamie ‘Smigga’ Smith was only half serious, the fire in his eyes was there for me to see.
Born and raised on the tough streets of Glasgow, an eleven year old Smith was talked into the gym by a long term family friend. ‘I started going to the gym with a pal who was a rising amateur at the time, and I just fell in love with it. Back then I really enjoyed the social aspect of boxing. I met a lot of good people when I first started going and I realised this is what I wanted.’

While ‘Smigga’ had been keen on a career in boxing, he was to let himself down in the amateur ranks. ‘I didn’t have a long amateur background’ Smith said. ‘I had 32 fights over a long period of time, winning 25. But I used to get involved in silly stuff that put me off the radar. When I was 15 I started drinking. I spent two years out of boxing completely and came back when I was 17 which meant I lost a lot of progression. When I started up again I got into some more trouble and it put me out of boxing for five months. I told everyone it was an eye problem, but really I had legal issues. But they are all resolved now. I got my head straight, come down to London, and I’m going to give this a real go. I have new friends, a new gym and a new coach. I just needed to start again.’

Smith, still only 19, has seemingly put his troubled past behind him and is ready to take up the sport professionally. ‘I’ve been speaking to certain managers and promoters, and I’m looking to announce something in the next couple of weeks. I have my interview with the board this week to sort out my medical, and after that we’ll come out with a big announcement. If all goes well, I’m looking to have my first fight at the end of January or the start of February. I can’t wait.’

‘Right now, I’m concentrating on changing my style. You see, amateur boxing and professional boxing is a different sport altogether. People don’t realise the difference. The only similarity is that you punch people in the face, but you do that in MMA. The gym I was training in back in Scotland was solely an amateur gym which taught me the two-step style which I had to follow. But that won’t work in the pro game. It really is as different as football and rugby.’

When Jamie Smith came down to London, he had no clue as to which direction he wanted to go. ‘When I first came down here I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I went to the TKO gym and trained under Derek Grainger and Brain Lawrence, but I didn’t feel that connection. Don’t get me wrong, I have the upmost respect for them, both as people and as trainers, but I felt like just a regular boxer there, not THE boxer. I was afraid I might full under the radar again.’
Smith’s search was to come to an end after he found Ben Doughty on YouTube. ‘I saw a couple of clips of Ben and he really impressed me. I rang him and asked if we could meet for a pads session and we just clicked. He is a student of the game and I rate him as the best trainer in London. The chemistry I felt was unbelievable. I’ve never felt that before. I feel it’s a bit like Adam Booth and David Haye. I’ve only known him for three weeks, but I already trust him with my life. I see him as a father figure already. I know it sounds silly, but it’s true.’ Smith has already seen a change in his fighting style since working with Doughty. ‘The first time I was with Ben I sparred with Darren Hamilton, and he just beat me up. I had two black eyes and really did a number on me. But I’ve sparred about 20 rounds with him now and we’ve become good friends. Lately, with my change in style, I’ve been holding my own, and that’s all down to Ben.’

Doughty is equally exited about the prospect of working with Jamie. ‘I’ve worked with a handful of boxers over the last three years since I got my licence, but the majority have been in their late 20s and have already developed their own style so their potential is limited. Jamie, on the other hand, has plenty of time to develop. He has a good amateur record and his very keen. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt that fighter-trainer relationship which is so important. He contacted me some months ago on YouTube but fell off my radar shortly after. But since working with him I’ve seen first hand how dedicated he is. The amount he has progressed over the last three weeks has been astonishing.’

While now based in London, the young prospect remains a proud Scotsman. ‘I get very patriotic about Paul Appleby and Ricky Burns. I look up to Ricky Burns as he has a similar story to me. He didn’t have an amazing amateur record, he turned pro young, and he went from being beaten up in a British Title fight to being a world champion. But coming to London is the best move I have ever made. I’m making friends every day and I’m fully focused, training 6 times week.’

Smigga has his sights set on attacking the Light Welterweight division. ‘As an amateur I used to box at 64 kilos, but I had to kill myself to make weight. I used to have to sit in the sauna with a sweat suit on and towels around me. But that was down to the way I was living and I’ve got that all sorted now. I have a diet worked out, and it looks like I’ll be boxing at Light Welter, but it can change. I still have time.’

Smith does seem focused, and continues making all the right noises. ‘I want to have 5 fights next year, but I don’t want to be put in easy. Obviously I don’t want to box Frankie Gavin on my debut, but I want to learn my trade with hard fights. I won’t learn anything from facing guys who won’t come to win. In two years time I’d like to be challenging for the minor titles like the Southern Area, Scottish, or British Masters, and within four years I’d love to be British Champion, and I’ll only be 23 then, and that’s still young in boxing terms.’

While a British title fight seems a long way off at the moment, Jamie Smith remains a young and hungry boxer who is still developing his skills. His relationship with Ben Doughty is blossoming nicely, and with a managerial announcement imminent, it is an exciting time for the young Scotsman.

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