‘Give Kids A Better Chance At Life’ – How Jacob Smith Went From Troublemaker To A Mentor For Local Youth

Jacob Smith Walter Goncalves ONE Fight Night 17 14

As a youngster, Jacob Smith found plenty of trouble on the streets of England. Now, he’s doing his best to prevent the next generation from making the same mistakes.

The 31-year-old from Birkenhead – who will face Denis Puric in a flyweight Muay Thai battle at ONE Fight Night 21 on Prime Video in U.S. primetime this Friday, April 5 – is committed to running his Thaifist gym, where he started out teaching alongside his fiancee, Rebekah.

The gym brought Smith away from the life of crime he was previously living and eventually led him to the global stage of ONE Championship. Because he’s seen firsthand how martial arts changed his ways, he knows it can do the same for others.

The #2-ranked flyweight Muay Thai contender spoke to onefc.com ahead of his return to action at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.

“It’s so important because of the stuff that’s going on now in my area. Shootings and stabbings are happening all the time. So if I can help just a couple of kids, it’s all I wish to do.

“I’ve got kids in my gym between 14 and 18 that have been down a similar road to me. Because I’ve been there and I’ve done some of the things myself, I can tell them it’s not the right path.

“I haven’t been brought up with loads of money and had everything handed to me. I’ve got the experience. I’ve got so many kids off the streets doing this already because of who I am around my area.”

Although bills must be paid to keep the lights on, it’s not about the money for Smith.

Instead, it’s knowing that he can make a positive impact on youngsters in an area that has too much deprivation and crime.

If somebody wants to get off the streets but doesn’t have the means, Smith will do whatever he can to help them – and show them there can be a brighter future ahead:

“There’s plenty of kids in our gym already that don’t pay because we know that they have a rough life at home. The parents might not be working, maybe they’re on drugs. They wouldn’t be able to come to the gym without this help.

“So, we’re in the middle of trying to get some funding now off a few different companies, so then we can offer more of our services for free to give kids a better chance at life.”

Jacob Smith Hopes His Students Can Reach ONE Championship

While helping a single kid succeed would be rewarding enough, Jacob Smith’s gym now proudly boasts packed mats with dozens of students staying fit and learning new skills.

Nothing gives him more satisfaction than seeing his young charges improve and take steps toward their own careers in the ring if that’s what they want.

Smith said:

“We’ve got so many kids coming through now. We’ve got a class of ages 4 to 7, which probably has 20-plus kids. And then we’ve got a class from 8 to 14, which is like 35 kids, and, of them, we probably have 20 actual fighters.

“It’s just an absolute pleasure to go to the gym every day and see them improve. It makes me so proud, honestly.”

The saying goes, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and in Smith, his students have a role model that presents an alternative.

Money and adoration don’t have to come from negative actions. Instead, he’s proof that discipline, commitment, and hard work can all reap rewards.

As a top-five contender in ONE Championship’s stacked flyweight Muay Thai division, the surging striker is among the best of the best, and his burgeoning students are eager to follow in his footsteps.

Smith added:

“I’ve got kids in the gym telling me, ‘In 2028, I’ll be in ONE Championship!’ I mean, it’s great to see. I’ll do everything I can to help fulfill their dreams, and then when I retire, I’ll be helping them do what I’m doing now.”

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