We have reached that time of year when people turn their attention to what lies ahead. As the calendar is about to turn many of us plan to make changes or set new goals for the upcoming 12 months. That theme runs through the upcoming interview.
It is fortunate then that the subject of this piece has recently made significant changes with a view to having even more success in 2018. Jamel Herring (@JamelHerring on Twitter) has switched trainers and decided to move into a new weight division.
This piece focuses on those decisions that Jamel has made as well as touching on his experiences as a US Marine and a high achieving amateur boxer. It makes for interesting reading.
Before getting started I want to take this opportunity to wish all NY FIGHTS readers a Happy New Year. All the best for 2018. Enjoy the interview!
CM: Hi Jamel, just going to jump right in with this one. You recently announced a change of trainer, moving from Mike Stafford to Brian McIntyre. What kind of factors were you weighing up before making the change?
JH: Changing trainers wasn't easy, especially since I've been with Mike Stafford for the past five years. It wasn't an easy choice but I felt it was necessary. Mike isn't a bad trainer, and he's got a good heart but there were times where I felt I wasn't getting the proper attention and at times I felt Mike's hands were full elsewhere so I had to do what was best not only for me but my career as well.
CM: As a US Marine you were twice deployed to Iraq. I have to ask if boxing in your youth helped while you were involved in that and likewise if your Marine Corps experience benefits you in the heat of a professional fight?
JH: I can honestly say they both worked hand in hand. During my 2nd deployment I remember my unit bringing in a punching bag and gloves so I could relieve stress in my spare time. My Marine Corps experience on the other hand still plays a huge factor in my career. I believe I have the mental edge in the majority of my fights mainly due to the fact I've been through so much worse as a Marine. When things get rough inside the ring I always think back to my time in the desert and just push right through it.
CM: I'm led to believe you are a member of the Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame. Congratulations. How much does this honour mean to you and your family?
JH: That honour means a lot! I mean to get mentioned with guys like Ken Norton and Leon Spinks, both who've defeated the greatest of all time Ali, is a huge honour!
CM: You were an accomplished amateur – representing America at the 2012 Olympics. Can you tell us about any particular highlights from your amateur days? Also how does the amateur dynamic of being part of a team differ from boxing as a pro which, I imagine, is a much more individual pursuit?
JH: I think my major highlight in the amateurs besides qualifying for the Olympic Games was actually winning the Olympic trials. A few months prior to the trials I had just lost to Semajay Thomas in the US National Championships so I wasn't a huge favourite to win the trials. Matter of fact I actually wasn't expected to get out of the first round but I surprised everyone by beating guys like Mike Reed and Pedro Sosa twice. I ended up winning the 2012 US National Championships the following year but I feel that the trials were my biggest accomplishment.
Now as for the dynamic of being on the Olympic team differing to being a pro – I'd have to say like you mentioned it is the team vs. individual aspect. Yes, you're in the ring by yourself but it's much different when you don't have your team-mates through camp pushing and motivating you along the way. As a pro you're your own boss and have to find the motivation yourself. Luckily for me I still speak with each and every one of my team-mates from time to time till this day.
CM: You have fought as a lightweight since you turned pro in 2012 but I read that you are now working to move down 5lbs and campaign at super-featherweight. What steps are you taking in order to do this and how do you see boxing at 130lbs as being better for your career?
JH: Dieting! That's the first major step because truth be told, I've never dieted as a pro yet. I just made weight easily but at the same time I never blew up 30 pounds between fights. Right now I'm walking round at 144lbs but Brian has a nutritionist on board where I'll have the proper diet while staying strong. We'll always have a strength and conditioning coach on hand as well so I think I should be fine. There have been time where I was eating the day of the weigh in just to get on the scales around 134lbs because I'd burn off so much weight just waiting for the weigh in to start. I also believe super-featherweight is a good move since it's picking up a lot of action.
CM: Simple one here but something I've been wondering about recently. What kind of thoughts are running through your head in the moments before the opening bell to a fight?
JH: The thoughts that have been running in my mind before the opening bell have always been – fight smart, get past this man and your chances at a world title will get closer.
CM: Finally, you have made changes career-wise so just as we are beginning 2018 can you speak about your specific plans and goals for the upcoming year.
JH: I just want to jump back in the ring as soon as possible and stay more active. I have a team who are trying to place me in the best position to make that happen so all I need to focus on is training and carrying myself as a disciplined fighter. I look forward to 2018, and with my new team I know great things will come.