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From backyard ring to TKO, Jacob George wins pro debut

Tsleil-Waututh Nation boxer is the great-grandnephew of famed actor and activist Chief Dan George

A Tsleil-Waututh Nation boxer scored a knockout after going back to nature to train for his first professional fight.

Jacob George, the great-grandnephew of famed actor, activist and leader Chief Dan George, earned a win in his professional debut on April 23, scoring a first round TKO over Langley’s Scott Woodward in a pay-per-view-only event held at North Vancouver’s Griffins Boxing Club.

COVID-19 concerns made it tricky to find training spaces over the past year, but George took advantage of an amazing outdoor space that allowed him to keep up his work with trainer Manny Sobral while following all health protocols. There’s a backyard ring tucked away on Tsleil-Waututh Nation land where George put in work for the past year while surrounded by stunning views of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains.

“It’s really good, especially with this COVID thing going on,” George said about his backyard routine before the fight. “I think the fresh air is better than being inside a small gym.”

George had another old-school outdoor trick up his sleeve going into the pro debut, as he got up early nearly every morning to complete a solo canoe course. George got his father to time him every morning while paddling approximately two miles. It takes him about 13 minutes, and it’s a great workout for a boxer, he said.

“It’s kind of like running with your arms, so it helps with the punching,” he said.

When it came time to take the ring for his pro debut, the open-air regime seemed to pay off, as the referee stopped the fight just two minutes into the first round of the scheduled four-round bout.

“Jacob did spectacularly,” said Sobral. “Jacob was able to land that left hand and sort of stun him, and before the end of the round he had him out of there. … This was a big win for Jacob.”

George had approximately 40 amateur fights on his record before the pro debut, but he looked like a seasoned professional under the bright lights, said Sobral.

“He’s the type of guy that in the gym he’s just your regular ordinary guy, but when it comes to competing, he’s a different person,” he said. “He’s really focused and he executes, whereas a lot of guys will freeze up and get stage fright. Not Jacob.”

There will definitely be more pro fights coming soon for George after his impressive pro debut, said Sobral. The 27-year-old was fighting in the 140-pound junior welterweight class in the bout but will likely land in the 135-pound lightweight class for most of his fights.

George is a hard worker who always puts up a good fight, said Sobral, his longtime trainer.

“He’s a rugged, tough guy,” he said. “He’s a south paw, unconventional. He’s awkward, but he never runs out of steam because the guy trains like a beast. … He’s just a hard worker, a grinder. I’m really proud of him, I’ll put it that way. He didn’t have the most talent in the world, he’s won some and lost some, but his persistence and work ethic is unbelievable.” 

When asked what his ancestors – including his great-grandfather and hereditary chief Henry George, as well as his famous great-granduncle Dan – would think of him making his pro boxing debut, Jacob said he thinks they’d be proud.

“They were canoe champions, so they knew what it took to put in hard work to win a sport,” he said.