By Oliver McManus @OliverGMcManus
An imposing figure, tattooed quite literally head from toe, Jack Ewbank comes into the paid code at a relatively late stage in his career. Now in his late 20s, the Ashford man, Ewbank has had a limited amateur career and actually hails most of his background from the fashion industry.
Having made a successful debut last September against, a feisty, Sam Omidi, Ewbank eager to push on and establish his presence as a threat across the domestic divisions. I caught up with Jack who, incidentally, trains a mere mile away from me to discuss his background and future ambitions. We started off by establishing his journey to date,
“My uncle (Peter) was a professional fighter and had a few fights out in Los Angeles when he was living there. I looked up to him, he was a hero of mine as a child, so the family name being Ewbank and my middle name being Dempsey didn’t leave with me much choice! I didn’t start until I was about fifteen but it’s always been in the blood. It’s always been a dream of mine to turn professional but, as I got older, I never knew if it was going to happen but the boys in the gym (Martin McDonagh and Bradley Haxell) were making those movements with MTK and the opportunity presented itself so I leapt at it.”
Aged 21, Ewbank ventured over to Australia – staying for three years – and the experience is one he credits with making him the fighter he is today.
“It was incredible, I actually bumped into my old trainer the other day and he was telling me that I was a real angry fighter before Australia, I’d fight with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. When I went to Australia I lived out of a farm for a while and I was training Italian called Mario Demarco – an Italian ex-pro – and he taught me how to relax. I ended up being a backfoot fighter and that’s the way I am now so it was a wonderful experience.
I think I was (angry) growing up, not loads, but at school I’d have issues and I did hold a lot of anger but I grew out of that eventually.”
Now under the stewardship of Billy Rumble, himself a former professional, the Ashford fighter has found a team around him that, he says, will push him on to greater heights –
“It’s not just Billy but being with Martin and Bradley, we’re all developing at the same time, our camps are roughly the same time. We’re all in the same boat, all nervous, we all keep each other hungry, we pick each other up and it’s such a strong team that, actually, I think not a lot of other guys have. Of course gyms are strong but we’re all learning together and that’s unique, I feel.”
Having made the decision to turn professional last year, Ewbank made his debut on September 21st at the Brentwood Centre in a show that featured his two gym-mates, McDonagh and Haxell. Reflecting on the night Ewbank told me it surpassed all expectations.
I’m getting Biggie and Tupac’s face
“It was so much more than I was predicting, it was the most incredible feeling. I’m probably more nervous in the build up to my second fight but it was amazing. I did 200 tickets – one of the most on the show – and the noise they made, made it unforgettable. With tickets it was a bit hit and miss in terms of expectation but I post quite a bit on social media, I’d never actually invited anyone to my amateur fights, so there was quite a buzz around my debut.”
“Sam is a game fighter and he won his next fight (against Saif Cheema) and then I went to watch him fight Josh Paine and he took him to the wire, a real close fight, so in retrospect it shows that I did quite well. Even if he is a journeyman, he bought it and it was a good test for me to start off my career. Obviously when someone comes forward it brings growth as a fighter and brings out the better in you, I find anyone.”
Before picking up the phone to give Jack a ring I had decided to re-watch his debut and throughout I found myself looking at his tattooed torso – not a sentence I ever thought I’d say – but, as the light-welterweight duly put me in my place, they have no meaning!
“None of them have a meaning, other than my best friend’s face but that was a joke. I turn up on the day and just decided then and there. There’s loads of space left, I look at myself and I think of new spaces where to put them, so I’ve got one in two weeks and I’m getting Biggie and Tupac’s face, quite small. It must be a bit daunting seeing me across the ring, ‘for fucks sake, I’m fighting the guy with the fucking tattoos everywhere’.”
Indelible ink aside, what primarily caught the eye was the fleeting footwork of Ewbank – a refreshing style to see in newly-turned professional boxers and one, he believes, could be the difference between himself and other prospects;
“I’m quite reserved as a fighter unless I really do get tied up in a war and I do have a very big heart, I can dig deep if need me. If it’s going my way, as I hope they will do, I like to dictate the pace and be quite reserved, I really do like the counter-punch so I’ll play it like a chess game and just keep moving. For me I think staying calm brings out the best in me. Every spar I’m having, though, I learn something completely new about myself. That said it all goes out the window come the actual fight and you fight on natural instinct which, throughout the amateurs and my one pro fight, I’ve found the adrenaline makes me even more laid back!”.
With that first fight nicely dealt with, Ewbank insists he won’t be resting on his laurels and will want to get out as often as possible over the course of 2019.
It all goes out the window come the actual fight
“Ideally I want another five fights this year, I would want more but I don’t want to be too busy and then not be able to sell the tickets. It’s a fine line so I’ll probably end up going every 2-3 months. I need to grab this with both horns, if I’m not going to do it now then I’ll just regret it. It really has upped my game, just the pro mentality, so I’m raring to go.
I think this year is going to be preparation for titles, I’ll be looking at the Southern Area in 2020. I’m happy to be honest about that, I’m not saying I’m going to win world titles and all that but I want to get good performances under my belt and target titles in 2020.”
It’s that last sentence from Jack that I thought was particularly interesting, he’s admitting there is a realistic limitation – those were his words not mine, by the way – to where he can go but he’s going to take every opportunity to maximize his potential. What would measure up as success, then?
“I’ve got two answers to that, mate, because I’m happy that I’ve turned professional and I’m getting into the mix. Five years ago, that would have been success. But I’m here now so what’s my next target for success? British title, I’d say, that would be phenomenal.”