Picture: Fuad Esack
Challenge accepted, said Cape Town’s EFC bantamweight champion of the world, Faeez “Troublemaker” Jacobs.
He won his championship belt via split-decision following an epic five-round battle against Nkazimulo Zulu at EFC81, in Pretoria, in August, last year.
For now, the first order of business was to stay at home and join the collective fight against an invisible demon. Of course, he’s no stranger to fisticuffs, having battled schoolyard bullies and brawled against bigger, brawnier rivals inside the Extreme Fighting Championship arena.
This time round, though, things were different, as his rival is really everyone’s opponent – one that remains invisible and deadly.
Along with the lockdown that followed, just over a month ago, all sporting activities – including a big fight he had been preparing for – came to an abrupt end.
But champions don’t just sit back and die. Instead he stuck to his training schedule as if getting ready for his next big clash.
“So being at home unfortunately limits us, but there’s still a lot we can do. I’m still staying in touch with my coaches, I’m still doing kickboxing sessions, I’m still doing ju-jitsu session – online – and I’m also teaching an MMA conditioning class through Fighterz Inc MMA,” he said.
“I’m doing about two sesions a day, one session with the team and one session by myself, polishing up on my balance, on my accuracy, on my agility, etcetera,” he said.
Jacobs, currently residing in Grassy Park, said he’s had to face many challenges on his road to success. “Throughout primary school and the beginning of high school, I was bullied quite a bit,” he said.
“I sort of got sick of it. So what I did was, I needed to overcome my fears. I became a delinquent, I started breaking things, I started fighting…
“And, through that I got nicknamed Troublemaker by my high school principal,” he said.
Of course, he’s not the first fighter to be called by that name – the other being former president Nelson Mandela, whose passion for boxing is as well-documented as his life as a freedom fighter.
Be that as it may, this Troublemaker also had to fight many personal battles to become a champion. Instead of being dragged down by a troubled past, he chose to rise above it all.
“I decided that one day, I was gonna change that,” he said, refering to the negativity associated with being called a troublemaker.
“Troublemaker now means breaking boundaries. Troublemaker in a phrase means to rise above all the circumstances.”