Getting over that hump isn’t easy. This thought came to mind when chatting with Malcolm Jones, a 16-3 super middleweight, from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Yeah…If it were, there’d be no market for self help books, manuals, memes, sites and programs to better yourself.
So, I won’t call Malcolm Jones a “prospect” or “contender,” not yet.
Going to keep it real and say that the jury is out on this kid.
Correction, 31 year old man.
Sorry; I say kid because I’m older than Jones, and the older I get, it seems, my definition of “kid” morphs into fallacious territory.
He’s not a kid, he’s a man who has real world problems, issues, challenges, like all of us—and he’s trying to contend with those, while making his way in this violent and unforgiving vocational space, prize fighting.
But, as I talked to Malcolm Jones, newly signed to Reyes Boxing Promotions, I realized that my use of “kid” to refer to Jones wasn’t totally off base.
Because I realized he’s like me and you, he was to one degree or another impacted by his upbringing, what happened to him as a little one left marks. Positive and yeah, negative.
Jones kept it pretty real as he told me about his hopes and dreams and yes, challenges to getting over that proverbial fucking hump, which so many of us can relate to.
“I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana,” Malcolm Jones told me. “A lot of people have a certain area they represent in the city. Indianapolis is my home. I represent the whole city.”
Jones: “Both my mother and father are living. I have the luxury of being able to call and speak with them both daily. My father and I have not always had the best of relationships. He spent 10 years in prison and still abandoned his children when he came home. As I’ve grown older, we have made attempts to try and patch our relationship us. I used to watch Floyd Mayweather fight with his father on HBO 24/7 and I could relate because that was me and my father!”
More than “pretty” real, Jones is smart to get this stuff out of his head, so he can better react to it all.
Time Honored Story In Boxing Realm–Great Fighters Often Come From Homes Where Single Moms Shone
Many of you reading this are hardcores, you watch boxing on ESPN, and know that analyst Mark Kriegel, an established author, likes to focus on father-son relationships within the pugilism sphere.
I thought of that as Malcolm Jones told me about his mom, Louise Jones, and how she held shit together.
If Kriegel is persistent about finding that narrative angle in his stories, then maybe I’m of the same sort but with mothers.
Yeah, I’ve picked up on a massively consistent theme in boxing, and life as a whole—so many moms holding the shit together, juggling flaming chainsaws like a master, without that many support pillars to lean on.
“My mother has always been there for me and my two brothers,” Malcolm Jones continued. “She raised us alone and I watched her work hard to provide and raise us. Watching that as a young man, I wanted to put myself in a position to help her when I was very young. Not only was I too young at the time to get a job, though, but I had a bad temper.
“I was a real angry kid and I stayed getting into trouble for either my mouth or me putting my hands on someone. My father tells me I was a mean baby growing up.”
Mean Baby Grows Up
Many of us don’t realize it at the time, only later, looking back, how we’ve held ourselves back in life, because of fear. Of the future..of what might transpire…of possibly failing and maybe failing again, and maybe not getting over that stiff challenge.
Be it a vocational hurdle, or maybe within an intimate relationship, fear, I’ve found, often introduces itself, and impacts my decision making.
And how I process the fear, and whether I let it ground me before takeoff, plenty of that comes from my early days, and how I dealt with challenges.
We all adapt to circumstances.
We all proceed with life in a fashion meant to keep ourselves alive and well. But what if I was brought up in a house where mom was juggling jobs and making ends meet, and wasn’t getting help from a partner? Or the partner was locked up?
There probably was too much time when I was left to my own devices, had to figure it out on my own, because mom was at work, and dad was in jail.
Life is hard, even with parental figures who help you find your path.
And without that instruction? Plenty of us flounder at times…
So yeah, I could relate to Malcolm Jones, to a degree, when he relayed what his home life looked like back in the day.
My Father Went To Prison
“My father went to prison when I was three years old, so there aren’t a lot of memories we shared,” the fighter continued. “At least none I can remember.”
But he adapted.
He went a time honored route, actually, and found a place where the ragged people go, and and feel welcomed, the ring.
“Boxing was something I always wanted to do,” Jones says. “We just didn’t have extra money for me to join a gym.
“It was a sport I felt I could dominate and I could fight in the street. My hands were always good and I have heart.
“I used to daydream in school about all the schools in Indiana having a big fight tournament and I ended up winning and then going to fight the champs from other states. School fighting, not organized fights. We would have half days at school and all the cool kids would come to my home after school and we would box out back. I was good at it.”
More from Jones: “One day this guy saw me back there boxing this big dude and I was putting paws on him. He talked to me for a bit about boxing at a gym and made it sound like I could make some money fast. That sounded good to me because I wanted to help my mother.
“So at 14 years old, my mother took me to Riverside Boxing Gym and I started boxing and surprisingly it didn’t cost a dime to join the boxing team. This changed my life!”
I know, you’ve heard that story before, right? Well, it bears repeating, because it’s not easy to find places and people to welcome you if you are not a mover/shaker.
Boxing Gym Looked Raggedy
“When I first walked into the boxing gym it looked raggedy and smelled bad,” Malcolm Jones shared. “I’ve now grown to love that smell. That smell brings back memories of people I will never see again, laugh with or train with. That smell is a smell I will never forget. The feeling I had made me feel like I was in the right place.
He continued: “This is one of the first real experiences I was around real men. The coach that showed me the basics kept saying ‘This dude here is a natural! Look how he throws his punches.'
Malcolm Jones says he went 54-6 as an amateur, winning state Golden Gloves eight times. He got cut at an Olympic qualifier for the 2016 Olympics when fighters wore no headgear, and had to exit the tourney.
He turned pro in 2015; what does he consider his toughest pro fight to date, and why?
“My toughest pro fight was Fidel Hernandez,” he answered, referencing an August 10, 2019 bout.
“This fight was the beginning of my boxing career going downhill. My personal life was taking a turn that I almost didn’t come back from. My boxing team was not a team anymore, and I feel like that was the wrong time to fight anyone, let alone a fighter (27 fight veteran) with his experience and desire to win.”
Real talk here. Boxrec says it, Jones is 1-2 in his last three. What’s up with that?
“I’m 1-2 in my last 3 fights. All 3 fights, I finally came to grips with one major lesson. Don’t fight when I am not mentally and physically ready. I’m the type of fighter that welcomes any challenge regardless. After my last fight, which I was victorious, I told myself I need to get my mind right before I fight again.”
What was going on? A custody matter, he says.
Malcolm Jones says that he had no contact with his youngest child for two years, and he’s had to battle to get time with his child.
Sounds like a bleak time.
No Prison, Yes To Having A Chance To Fight Up the Ladder
“I was facing prison time,” Jones admits, “and this took my mental focus away from boxing. So the last three fights I fought with heart. There wasn’t too much more to learn from that. Now that I’m not in prison and I have my child back in my life, I won the battles that I was fighting outside the ring…and those should have been the only battles fought after fighting Fidel Hernandez.”
Are there specific goals Malcolm Jones is now aiming for, now that he’s emerged from a dark spell?
“I want to be a great fighter that's mentioned when my weight class is mentioned,” he says. “So the fights that can make that happen is what I want. I’m from Indianapolis, Indiana. We are just dreaming here when it comes to this boxing dream of ours. So to make fights with top 10 fighters is definitely the direction I am looking to go! I'm a big fish in a small pond and winning fights like that will put my city on notice!”
My Three Cents: Here's the PS.
I'm deciding to label Malcolm Jones a “contender.”
He's proven that to be the case, getting to this point.