A championship boxing match in Brooklyn this weekend features a boxer from the borough who has overcome tremendous challenges to get into the ring. Doctors said he would never even walk again. Brooklyn reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
He's known as “The Miracle Man.” Brooklynite Daniel Jacobs wasn't supposed to be able to hit a punching bag or jump rope because he was once paralyzed. Now he's preparing to fight for the WBA Middleweight Championship title at Barclays Center Saturday night.
"As soon as I got out of the hospital I wanted to come to the gym. And this was my therapy. I knew that boxing could give me the footing and the hand, eye coordination that I needed to be able to perform and move my legs again,” said Jacobs.
The 27-year-old has been boxing since he was a teenager in the Howard Houses in Brownsville. He said he took up the sport after being bullied in middle school but then continued through his days at Erasmus Hall High School. Jacobs turned pro, but then three years ago was struck with a rare bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
"The tumor actually wrapped itself around my spine and broke my spine which left me paralyzed and fighting for my life in a sense,” he said.
He returned to the ring 18 months later, fighting in his hometown on the first boxing card at Barclays Center in 2012. Jacobs won by knockout and followed up with four more knockout wins leading up to this weekend's championship bout against Jarrod Fletcher.
His longtime trainer has been getting him ready at the Starrett City Boxing Club.
"I'm very proud of him. Not just alone for the fact that he's fighting again and doing so well but he wasn't supposed to be here and now that he is, he's testament to hard work and dedication and belief,” said trainer Andre Rozier.
Jacobs credits boxing for making him mentally strong. And says the match in Brooklyn gives him that extra boost.
"This means everything. And to add the icing on the cake, it's in my backyard. So I can have this special moment and I can share it with my family and friends,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs says he plans to be the first ever cancer survivor world champion.