BEAUTIFUL PHOENIX: Posing gently before her hectic training, Melissa finds solace in spiritual and inspirational books. PIC: L’Afrique Photography/ Lalla
Melissa Jacobs is not your average Pretoria girl, she’s one of the few boxing women we have on a professional scale.
Standing at only 1m58 and weighing 53,3 kilograms, she’s won several awards and is now training both men and women at a boxing academy.
She has two older brothers and an identical twin sister. Her family supports her sport and keeps her grounded. Here’s my one-on-one with this very spiritual and talented 27 year old, known in the ring as “Phoenix’…
1) Who are your inspirations?
God first! He is truly my driving force, as He put me on this earth to be the best I can be, in whatever I set out to do and He keeps me humble and grounded and grateful.
Then, there’s the love of my life, my best friend and my training partner: Hykie Berg. He has been a key role in my boxing, training and he truly inspires me with his positive attitude and outlook on life.
Then to one phenomenal man, Nick Vujicic: you changed my life. His A Life Without Limits book, is a true inspiration for a ridiculously good life.
2) Which other hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy reading spiritual and inspirational books. I also have a great love for succulents, so I have “green fingers” and love gardening. Also, I love making old photo frames, painting them and putting them together.
DETERMINATION: Grueling hours of hard work and a strict diet keep Melissa in shape. PIC: L’Afrique Photography/ Lalla
3) How did your love for boxing start?
I started muay thai boxing at the age of 23. What started off just as ‘self-defence,’ turned into a passion to compete and push myself on a physical level.
My story is that of inspiration and sadness, but the outcome has been so rewarding.
I first prepared for my muay thai grading three months in advance. After a grueling 5km run, 1000 pushups, 1000 sit-ups, 1000 leg raises, 1000 kick squats and really tough fight against my kru (instructor) I was finally graded and was allowed to compete.
I competed three times over a span of two years, as there weren’t many girls in my weight class. My very last fight was in 2010 at Zoo Lake, the Ambassadors’ Cup. I achieved an amazing dream there! I became SA female bantam weight champion in my federation!
I stopped mauy thai the same year to pursue other goals, but realised my fighting spirit is still so alive in me. I then decided to join Transnet Rail Engineering Boxing Academy. I had to start from scratch, as this sport was very different from mauy thai. I was then finally graded as an amateur female boxer and my journey has been amazing.
4) Which awards have you received?
I was a Bantam weight woman’s MSA mauy thai champion.
On a boxing level, I have received “female runner-up boxer of the year” in 2011, “performer of the month” in June 2012 and July 2012. I received “the fittest boxer award 2012” and I received “the personality of the year” in 2012.
5.1) Have you ever competed against men?
No, I have never competed against guys, but I have sparred and trained with them when I was preparing for bouts.
My boyfriend happens to be my favourite sparring partner.
5.2) Would you like to compete against them?
I would, definitely! I would be that daring. Besides, life is either a daring adventure or nothing!
6) What do your friends and family think of you boxing?
Most of my friends and family are very supportive and understanding.
7) Which other sports are you involved in?
I am an “Energizer Bunny”! I enjoy hockey, swimming and weight-training, but boxing takes up most of my time.
I belong to OAH Hockey Club and a swimming club, where I take part in swimming races like the Midmar Mile and Roode.
MEAN MUSCLE: Ready to fight, Melissa finds focus. PIC: L’Afrique Photography/ Lalla
8) What are your views on this specific sport, boxing?
When it comes to boxing or any sport on an amateur/ professional level, it’s about true dedication and sacrifice.
In general, there are people out there with misconceptions about boxing: they think it’s about the knock out, but it is not. We box for points and not to knock the opponent out.
Boxing is all about fitness, technique, skill and foot-work. Boxing in SA is sadly not exposed enough, with some amazing talent not being recognised.
9) Please tell us about your favourite quotations…
Well, these two come from the Bible, my most inspirational book:
Hebrews 13:5: “For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not!”
James 4: 10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honour.”
And, my other two favourites come from Nick Vujicic’s book, A Life Without Limits:
“Helen Keller said there is no such thing as a secure life ‘it does not exist in nature…life is either a daring adventure or nothing…’ Risk, then, is not just part of life, it IS life!”
“Live to glorify God and don’t leave an ounce of energy, a trace of your uniqueness behind. Dare to be ridiculous and you will be ridiculously happy.”
10) Do you follow a strict diet?
I follow a very healthy monitored eating plan set out by my dietician. I don’t believe in starving myself, I love muscles and being fit.
11) When can we see you in action?
Hopefully this year…
12) What’s your day-job?
I am employed by SARS, I am a project co-ordinator for the technologies department.
13) Where do you see yourself in ten years?
This question I cannot answer. Everyday is a given, not a right and planning ahead is planning for disaster.
HARDCORE: Melissa is as hardworking as determined to be a successful boxer. PIC: L’Afrique Photography/ Lalla
14) Who do you train? How can they contact you?
I can train anybody, whatever age, situation or fitness level. Those interested can contact me on 0798842708 or check out Transnet Rail Engineering Boxing Academy on Facebook.
I dedicate this interview to Hykie Berg: “I am GOLDEN in God’s eyes.”