Episode 7: Tony Jeffries

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In this week’s episode, we hear the story of former Olympic boxer, Tony Jeffries. 

Tony grew up as a “tall, skinny, freckled kid” in Sunderland. One of his first challenges was dealing with a pair of bullies who were picking on him at school: “Every day I’m at school, these two kids are calling us names… I didn’t want to go to school.” After his mum discovered Tony crying one day, she alerted his father to what had been going on and he had a very specific piece of advice for his son: “Dad said you’re gonna punch the bully in the face as hard as you can, I thought, I’m not doing that!” However, he says that, because his dad had insisted on it “if I didn’t do it, I’d feel like a coward”. And so the next time he was picked on, he did exactly as his dad had suggested: “From that moment on, I didn’t get bullied again.”

Tony’s journey towards boxing was influenced by his dad in other ways too: “My dad wasn’t a role model but he forced me to go to boxing… I wanted to play with my mates outside and have fun … but my dad said if you don’t go boxing, you’re not going out.” Tony, therefore, was forced to go to the gym and put in the rounds, his dad said to him quite simply “You’ll thank us one day.”

Tony’s efforts eventually brought him to the attention of Terry Edwards, who ran the Olympic Boxing training programme. Tony describes Terry as “the most successful amateur boxing trainer we’ve ever had”. However, on a personal level, the situation between the two was less than rosy “I couldn’t stand him, he couldn’t stand me. We didn’t have a good relationship.”

Nevertheless, the two worked together and Tony found himself on the brink of qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Despite an initial loss which threatened his place, he fought back by defeating a fancied American fighter in Chicago, he then defeated a Belorussian and officially qualified for the Olympic team. Tony describes this achievement as “the single best moment of my life.” 

Tony went on to win bronze at the Olympics after an exhausting fight against a Hungarian knock-out artist. The first thing he thought of was what his father had said: “You’ll thank us one day”. Tony handed the medal to his father and said “that’s yours, without you, I wouldn’t have it”. Years later, Tony looks back at that moment and says “winning that Olympic medal beats anything, anything at all”.

Due to subsequent injuries, Tony had to retire from boxing just four years later. It was something that he initially struggled to handle: “I put on weight, I got depressed, I was in a really dark place… it was a tough thing to overcome.” But, eventually, Tony was able to discover a new project to put his energy into. He’s now a boxing trainer and he’s able to help others discover the talent and develop the ability that once served him so well.

If you’d like to learn more about Tony Jeffries, go to www.tonyjeffries.com

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Our Voices podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Our Voices podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

 

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I’m the community manager at Our Voices. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests from all around the world. What I love most about working for Our Voices is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

 

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

 

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When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

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While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and many of these people had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Our Voices’ because I wanted to give these people a platform to share these stories with the world.

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