Photo by Robert Cole
Hometown hero: Brownsville native Daniel Jacobs was honored with a ceremony at Barclays Center and a day named for him on April 22.
He’s not trying to change the world — just Brooklyn.
Brownsville native and boxing star Daniel Jacobs is always determined to be the best every time he steps into the ring, but he’s also determined to be the best, period. The win totals are important, the knockouts are important, but, as far as Jacobs is concerned, his legacy away from the sport is what really and truly matters.
“I want to spread some of that Brooklyn love up in here,” Jacobs said. “A lot of these guys, in the world of sports, don’t understand the platform they have or the magnitude of the position they have and how it’s important to give back.
“I realize I might not be able to change the world, but if I can change a kid’s perspective on life or turn a situation then I feel like I’ve done my job,” he added.
Jacobs’s work outside boxing — which includes his Get In The Ring Foundation — was honored at Barclays Center on April 22 as Borough President Adams declared it “Daniel Jacobs Day.” It was a surreal moment for Jacobs, who still couldn’t quite believe what was happening — even when he heard the cheers and the applause.
“I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I’m just honored and I can’t even believe it’s real. What did I do to accomplish this? But I do know people look and they see and they take notes. So they see what I’m doing and people recognize.”
Jacobs’s determination to leave the world — and Brooklyn — better than he found it, grew out of the challenges he faced in his own life. The 30-year-old was diagnosed in 2011 with osteosarcoma, a life-threatening form of bone cancer, and for years was told he’d never be able to box again.
Jacobs refused to buy into that fate, saying he knew he’d get back into the ring. In 2014 he did, coming back to win the world middleweight title in August of that year.
Now, Jacobs is working to make sure a new generation embraces challenges the same way he did. He spends his free time mentoring kids and working with local groups to focus on healthy eating, exercise, and anti-bullying.
“I realize I have a platform that I can [use to] give back,” Jacobs said. “Maybe these kids don’t really listen to parents as much as we may like, but if they have a guy they like or they look up to, then that’s when things start to sink in and they start to have a positive effect. So that’s why I take on these roles and I try my best to relay a positive message to these kids.”
Jacobs — who lost to Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in a hotly-contested match at Madison Square Garden in March — is always anxious to get back into the ring, but no matter what happens in his career, he’s determined to do well by his hometown and, most importantly, by the people who have always supported him.
“Boxing is my career,” Jacobs said. “But there’s also another side where I want to be the best person I can be and live the life that gives me happiness when I’m not boxing. I just really feel great that I can make some type of change. That’s my goal.”