Like Father, Like Son / Nicholas punches way into Walters legacy
This August 9, 1989 file photo shows Mexican featherweight Carols Linares (left) and Jamaica’s Job Walters hitting gloves during their Dinner Boxing card at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel. Walters scored a sixth-round TKO in the scheduled 10-round fight.
There is one dream that many fathers have from the moment they first hold their sons – to have them join them in the family business and carry on a legacy they begun.
For Job Walters, former local boxing champion, this is a dream that has come true in ways he didn’t even dare to imagine.
To say that Job Walters is a proud dad would barely be scratching the surface of the emotions he has for his son, WBA No. 1-ranked featherweight boxer, Nicholas “The Axeman” Walters.
From the first moment Job fitted juice boxes as gloves on Nicholas’ tiny four-year-old fists, he has had an indelible impact on his son’s life and career.
By adopting a hands-on approach, which spoke to his own experiences in the ring, the elder Walters has guided all aspects of Nicholas’ career and has seen their shared vision of boxing glory morph into an amazing reality.
Job represented Jamaica from 1986-1991 in the featherweight division, a period characterised by 12 wins and seven losses. While boxing became Job’s lifelong love though, it wasn’t a career that the then boys home resident gave much thought as a child. But, according to Job, boxing found and saved him.
“Growing up in those days and living in a home, there were really only two options for you if you didn’t have an education – music and sports. I used to dabble in cricket and when I left the home at 16, one day I went to a cricket match with my father and saw a man challenging anyone to box him. I decided to give it a try and the people were cheering for me because the guy couldn’t hit me,” says the St James native in fond remembrance of his first meeting with boxing.
This experience was followed by another chance encounter after a man saw him and his younger brother play-boxing in St Catherine and told him about the Gun Court Boxing Gym in the parish.
found my purpose
According to Job, after dedicated training there “it took me four months to make the national team and my first bout was in Haiti. That was my first plane ride ever! I won comfortably and that started off my career.”
He added: “I found my purpose in boxing. It was a vehicle for me to travel the world and give me a better life. Travelling to compete in matches opened my eyes to be grateful for what I have because some people live worse lives, but still are humble and grateful.”
From champion boxer, Job took his experiences literally to the streets through an open-air gym – which still operates today – where he shared his expertise with young boys who had a taste for the sport and were eager to pursue it as a career.
With such a strong heritage in boxing, it was no surprise that Nicholas easily entered the Walters family business.
The eldest of three boys, all of whom did boxing at some point, Nicholas grew up with intimate knowledge of the sport and keenly followed in his father’s winning footsteps, registering multiple victories and dominating his weight class from his first punches as a child fighting in matches within the community.
As a champion boxer, Job knew just what it took to get to and stay at the top of the sport – continued hard work. It’s something he’s instilled in Nicholas throughout the years.
“I used to interview my boys with a little camera as they trained and told them they were already world champions. This positive reinforcement was important to motivate them. But I also made sure they knew that they had to set realistic goals and work hard towards them,” said Job.
By Job’s own admission, Nicholas’ younger brother, Oraine, displayed a higher level of technical skills as a boxer. But it was Nicholas who showed the grit and determination necessary to succeed and who today is maintaining that proud Walters tradition.
December 2009 marked an important milestone in his career, when he won the WBA Fedelatin title.
Another important stat shows he has won all 21 fights in his professional career from 2008 to present, when he has ascended to being the world’s number one ranked featherweight.
As a lad, Nicholas looked up to other boxing greats such as Mike Tyson, Mike McCullum and Evander Holyfield. If he could, he would even love to fight Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he describes as his chosen fighter of all time.
But none of these legendary fighters has come close to influencing his career as much as and in the manner of his father. So come Saturday December 8, when he challenges Colombian Daulis Prescott for the WBA World Featherweight title at the National Indoor Sports Centre, it will partly be in tribute to the man who started it all for him.
“My father was a pro fighter and I loved to watch him train. That’s how I first got interested in boxing. He noticed my interest and personally kicked off my career when I was just a boy. Everything I am today is because of him. Every success is due to him. Not only was he my father, but he was my first coach and he believed in me every step of the way, even when I doubted myself,” said Nicholas, who is based in Panama.
“My first win at age 22 against Panamian Estaban Ramos helped to boost my confidence and showed me that based on my father’s teachings and my own hard work I had what it took to make a career of boxing. Because of my dad, boxing changed my life and is now a big part of it.”
After twice successfully defending his WBA Fedelatin featherweight crown, the former Roehampton Primary and Anchovy High student is anticipating the big world title matchup on home soil.
“I’m glad to be fighting for the world title in Jamaica where this dream was started for me by my father. And I hope I can also make my country proud by being the first Jamaican boxer to win a WBA world title in Jamaica.,” said Nicholas.
“After following and supporting my career through the years that is a victory my people deserve nd I am prepared to give it my all.”
Job remains Nicholas’ biggest supporter. He has watched with pride as his son took on the world over the years, maintaining an unbeaten streak and when the ‘Axeman’ – so named for the way in which he seemingly effortlessly brings down his opponents – takes to the ring for what is possibly the biggest fight of his career to date, Job will be right there cheering him on as a dad, coach and mentor.
“To see my boy fight is good for me. I love going with him to his matches not just because he’s a good boxer and I am confident he will do well, but because he’s giving something back to the world – enjoyment, entertainment and mostly to the Jamaican public, honour and pride.
“Everybody needs a purpose in life and I am happy that Nicholas has found his. Win, lose or draw, he’s making the world a better place through his boxing. I couldn’t be happier.”