JENSEN Irving has cited his four-year-old son, Lennox, as the key inspiration behind the former cannabis user wanting to turn his life around and forge a career in professional boxing.
Swindon’s Irving is set to make his professional debut on the Neilson Boxing-promoted Fight Town 1 event on April 27 at the Oasis Leisure Centre, less than three years after hitting rock bottom and opting for a drastic change to his lifestyle.
Jobless and regularly smoking marijuana, Irving admits he was doing nothing worthwhile before turning to boxing to alleviate his frustrations and gain control of his life.
And after having a son shortly into his fledgling fight career, the 29-year-old says baby Lennox was a significant factor in his drive to make something of himself as seeing his child grow up to not respect him was one of Irving’s worst fears.
He said: “I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I was lazy and had no drive. I was smoking weed and I didn’t have a job. I got into boxing after Lennox was born and it changed my life around.
“When he was around two-years old, he didn’t really understand what I was doing, but then I realised in the future, he is going to know what I’ve been up to and I’ve been wasting my life away, so he’s not going to respect me.
“I thought that if I can do this and change my life around and be a professional boxer, he can be proud of me, look up to me and know that anything is possible if you do it in the right way.
“It’s a great feeling to be making my way in professional boxing and it makes me feel proud. It’s nice to have the support of others – my family and friends are all getting behind me – and especially my partner Nikki Cowling, who has supported us both financially and mentally throughout everything.”
Now on the straight and narrow, Irving has ambitious plans to become a professional boxing champion as he aims to make his son proud and inspire others who may be in a similar position.
Never far from his thoughts nowadays, Irving recalled something his son had said to him after leaving Fitzpatrick’s Ferndale Road gym one day.
“The other day, I asked my son what he wants to be when he grows up and he said a boxer, like me,” said Irving.
“In the same week, as we were leaving the gym, Paddy said to my son, Lennox, if he’s anything like me, he would be a very good boxer.
“Both of those comments really spur me on that little bit more.
“Within the next five years, I hope and expect to be winning a Southern area title, an English title and maybe even on to a British title. From there, I want to venture out internationally.
“I believe I can go quite far, I believe I can do quite well, and even if I don’t get to as far as I believe, I will have definitely achieved enough within myself to know I’ve done something worthwhile and not just sat around with my old friends doing what I used to do.
“I’ll have changed my life around and had a positive effect on the community and on everybody else.”