Jeff Horn's dad feels the pain when son boxes
A SHUDDER went through Jeff Horn's father and brother as they watched the sickening television footage recently of a boxer losing his life after a brutal fight in Sydney.
While the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday promises to be a brutal slugfest, the Horn family and his trainer Glenn Rushton are well aware that boxing is a gruelling sport in which people have lost their lives.
Even Manny Pacquiao, who ran beside the Brisbane River on Monday while thinking of launching missiles at Brisbane's Fighting Schoolteacher, still gets tears in his eyes as he recalls the tragic night his best friend died after a boxing match in Manila in 1995.
Horn's father Jeff Sr, 59, says he has "full confidence" that trainer Glenn Rushton will take total care of his son in the biggest moment of his life.
"I watched the recent television segment about the death of Davey Browne in a boxing match in Sydney and it literally made me sick," Horn Sr said.
"I made my other son Ben (27) watch it with me because he will be in Jeff's corner on Sunday and I wanted him to realise that no matter what, they all have to take care that Jeff does not get badly hurt.
"I don't want their judgment affected by the excitement of the fight in the heat of battle.
"But I've got total confidence in Jeff's trainer Glenn Rushton who has guided Jeff every step of the way ... Jeff has a great team around him in the corner," he said.
Rushton, 59, a martial arts expert, will use Ben Horn, cut-man Stephen Edwards and rising amateur star Adam Copland as his corner team for the big fight.
"We are very confident that Jeff will beat Manny," he said.
"But I will not let emotion get the better of me and Jeff knows that.
"I watch a fight very closely to see how many hits he's taking and I'm looking at his body language all the time. I look at his eyes between rounds to judge his spirit.
"I regard Jeff like a son and every time he gets hit, I feel it.
"I'm doing numbers in my head all the time on how much punishment he might be taking - how he's going mentally, how he's coping."
Rushton said that a trainer's first responsibility was to protect his fighter.
"Sometimes in a hard fight, a boxer is not thinking clearly, so the trainer has to assess things very carefully and rationally," he said.
"Boxing is a tough sport, but we take precautions.
"I focus on the good things boxing does - I look at the way it's changed Jeff's life, from a kid who was being bullied to a guy who is now going to compete in one of the greatest sporting events ever in Australia.
"I focus on the thousands of lives I've changed - people who I've taken from depressive states and given confidence through boxing, helped them to overcome their fears, kids who might otherwise have ended up on drugs or alcohol and the parents who thank me for saving their kids.
"Yes, boxing is a tough sport but so is football - have a look at the hits State of Origin players take."