From a Brownsville Police Athletic League gym to the bright lights of Barclays Center, Daniel Jacobs has crafted a classic boxing tale and added his name to the long list of Brooklyn boxing legends.
The world middleweight champion has marked some of his most significant professional milestones right in his home borough, and Brooklyn’s reputation as a cradle of champions is a point of pride. As is his standing as the face of BROOKLYN BOXING, the flourishing boxing platform for Barclays Center. Jacobs will train and compete in branded gear and make public appearances on behalf of BROOKLYN BOXING.
“When you think of boxing it’s hard not to think of Brooklyn and the history and the culture which produced so many champions,” said Jacobs. “Just to be a part of that legacy, it feels really good to associate my name with BROOKLYN BOXING.”
To reach these heights, Jacobs has conquered the kind of adversity few have overcome. In his first shot at a world title in July 2010, Jacobs suffered his only professional loss the same week his grandmother died of cancer. Less than a year later, Jacobs was himself diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer.
Just 17 months later, he was back in the ring. In 2014, he became a world champion at Barclays Center.
“Daniel is a true inspiration to Brooklyn, the boxing community and beyond,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. “His story captures what BROOKLYN BOXING is all about — courage, toughness and perseverance. We are proud to have Daniel represent the BROOKLYN BOXING brand globally. Wherever he goes, BROOKLYN BOXING will go.”
From his first days in that PAL gym, Jacobs fell in love with the sport. He was taken in by the intensity of the Golden Gloves on his first visit to watch the tournament, still too young to enter. Eventually, Jacobs went on to become a four-time New York Golden Gloves champion.
His fast-rising pro career had Jacobs fighting for a world title at just 23 years old. But just days after his grandmother Cordelia Jacobs died of cancer, Jacobs was stopped in the fifth round.
“That was a pretty dark time in my life,” said Jacobs. “I suffered my first loss. It was the biggest stage that I was ever on in my life. There was so much pressure.”
Greater challenges were coming.
In the spring of 2011, Jacobs began to suffer from weakness in his left leg. A tumor had wrapped itself around his spine.
“The symptoms were evident,” said Jacobs. “It was me not being able to walk.”
He underwent surgery and two dozen radiation treatments. Doctors told him he would never box again, maybe not realizing a return to the ring was exactly what was driving Jacobs through his ordeal.
“As soon as I was able to walk I went to the boxing gym,” said Jacobs. “They told me that I was crazy.
“They advised me that I would never be able to do this again. That was my motivation to prove everybody wrong.”
Just 17 months after his diagnosis, Jacobs returned to the ring to defeat Josh Luteran by TKO. It was Oct. 20, 2012, the premiere boxing card at Barclays Center, merging the start of new eras for Jacobs and boxing in Brooklyn.
With his return from cancer and the opportunity to fight on a major stage in his hometown, Jacobs called it one of the most intense emotional nights of his life.
“Through that whole ordeal,” said Jacobs, “it’s hard not to be a better person and come 100 percent with everything you do and everything you are.”
On Aug. 8, 2014, Jacobs knocked out Jarrod Fletcher in the fifth round to claim the WBA world championship title at Barclays Center. He’s made four title defenses, two of them at Barclays Center, including a ferocious first-round TKO of his friend and fellow Brooklynite Peter Quillin back in December.
That was Jacobs’ fifth fight at Barclays Center, and he’s looking forward to fighting in front of his home fans again.