The Quiet School Teacher Who Overcame the Bullies - The Emporium Barber

The Quiet Fighting School Teacher Who Overcame The Bullies

The bell has gone, and the fighting schoolteacher advances towards his opponent, the legendary Manny Pacquiao. With the support of over 50,000 passionate fans behind him – an Australian record boxing crowd at Suncorp Stadium – the Australian Rocky finds himself fighting in his hometown of Brisbane watched by millions around the world. He hits Pacquiao with some good shots, gets in a great combo to the body and head and Pacquiao laughs at him. Horn loses his mouth guard and sucks in some air. Pacquiao gets him with a jab, but Horn replies with another late combo; he’s got this first round. How the hell did he end up here?

Jeffrey “Jeff” Horn was born on February 4, 1988, in Brisbane, QLD. Back in the 30s, his grandfather used to put on exhibition boxing matches in outback Queensland, so boxing is in his blood.

Breaking The Bullying Cycle

At high school, he had become the victim of bullying, losing more often than winning. Do the bullies now brag about how they beat up Jeff Horn as a kid? Or are they ashamed of their actions, hitting a quiet kid that never looked for trouble?

The Courier-Mail asked Horn if he ran into any of the guys that used to beat him, what would he do to them?

“You never know what was going on in their lives for them to behave like that. I feel sorry for them,” he replied.

Spoken like a true champion...

Img: Chris Hyde/Getty

As a student, he was quiet and softly spoken, he still is. It was his love for board games and study that earmarked him for trouble from the bullies. One day after school one of his mates was being picked on, and Horn stuck up for his friend. He was told to get on his knees and say sorry; he refused. For his troubles, he was slapped in the face, hard.

From that moment on he decided to change his life.

The bell goes again. Horn hits Pacquiao with an early left, stalking the boxing legend who is no longer laughing. This young, educated fighter is tougher than Pacquiao had initially thought, and now the champ knows he is fighting for his life and reputation. The wiry boxer from the Philippines scores with a left hook to the head, then a straight left. He’s stepping up through the gears now, concentrating, honing-in on his opponent, who unexpectedly unleashes a straight right and lands it. It’s on.

Listen And You Can Learn

In 2006 Horn’s trainer Glenn Rushton saw something in his prodigy that made him tell Horn one day he could be a champion. The bullied kid with the big heart listened carefully to his wise words. It was after watching the 2007 Australian amateur boxing championships in Brisbane that he told his dad he could beat all the kids in his weight division.

Image Source: Getty images

In 2009 Horn won his first Australian title and repeated the feat in 2011. He then went off to the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku where he was beaten by the eventual champion Everton Lopes. The next year he took his third Australian title, then backed that up with his first Oceania title to win a place on the London Olympics team.

By the time he was heading over to London in 2012, he had only been in competitive boxing for four years, though boxing for six. His third ever fight was for the State title, and his fourth was an international bout. This was like a case of accelerated promotion in the Police Force.

On top of all this he had just finished his qualifications for teaching, getting a Bachelor of Education from Griffith University so that he could become a secondary P.E. teacher. He also worked at child care -- after school care -- to practice teaching the Grade 7s.

The Aussie boxer made it to the Olympic quarterfinals of the Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) division, losing to Berinchyk of the Ukraine.

It’s Round 4, and there are some huge shots being traded by both boxers. Pacquiao goes down, but it’s a slip, then Horn hits him with a well-timed uppercut. A massive Matrix-like right-hand punch goes whistling past Pacquiao’s head. He’s stood his ground, the Brisbane lad, yet if you listened to the ESPN commentary, you’d swear they were watching a different fight, calling Pacquiao ahead in rounds already.

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Believing In Yourself

His debut in professional boxing was in 2013 where ‘The Hornet’ won with a second-round technical knockout. His biggest test was in 2016 when he faced former two-division world champion Randall Bailey who had an 85 percent knockout rate.

Horn almost became another percentage in the third round when a thunderous right from the American connected with Horn, rocked him to his toes yet he managed to wobble back to his feet. As the fight progressed, Horn outboxed his opponent and won when Bailey elected not to fight the eighth round.

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In October 2016, Horn then took on Rico Mueller and won by TKO in Round 9. He was now ranked #2 in the welterweight world. December saw him beat former IBO welterweight champion Ali Funeka and the showdown is set up with eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.

Finally Australian boxing has a brilliant champion, who looks like he is going from underdog to millionaire in record time.

Never Give Up, Dig Deep

He’s got to somehow stay on his feet under the tirade of punches heading his way. The right side of Horn’s face is a mess, it’s swollen and blood-soaked, and Pacquiao still comes forward, raining blows on the quiet school teacher. The crowd is roaring him on, to last the round, make it for a breather and some instructions. “He looks like a puddle in the summer that’s evaporating,” screams the ESPN commentator as Horn wilts in the Brisbane sun. “Show me something, or I’ll stop the fight,” yells the ref over the noise from the crowd.

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Use Your Opponent's Words To Inspire

Australia’s former heavyweight boxer Justin Fortune, who is Manny Pacquiao’s conditioning coach, shoots his mouth off.

“This guy [Horn] has nowhere near the experience at all. This fucker hasn’t walked out in front of 50,000 people, ever.”

The ‘Battle of Brisbane” is on, with the school teacher by trade getting his first ever shot at the WBO welterweight title. Fortune doesn’t give him a chance, says he will be brutally exposed by the Filipino legend, one of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all-time.

He forgets Horn has an unbeaten boxing record and is no mug.

“The first step in boxing is believing in yourself, and I believe that I can beat Manny Pacquiao or any of the other world champions that are out there right now,” Horn says.

The Philippine senator is quoted as saying Horne is a very lively fighter and, almost dismissively, should be a “good challenge for him.”

Most of the boxing world asks the question: Who the hell is Jeff Horn?

Focus On Defeating Your Enemy

The Brisbane boxer doesn’t care, he’s got a job to focus on and that’s beating the man ten years older than him. He reckons he has the speed, with a style very similar to Pacquiao’s, which means it will be harder for his opponent to hit him.

Horn comes out fighting against an apparently tired Pacquiao who gave up a lot of energy in that last round. “Horn went from the wading pool to the ocean,” says the biased ESPN commentator as their scorecard flashes up on screen showing seven of the nine rounds so far going to Pacquiao. It’s toe-to-toe as Horn shows the ref “something” and Pacquiao doesn’t look capable of a K.O; the last one he delivered being back in 2009. Horn makes it through the round safely. Two to go.

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Don’t Take One Step Back

“I am [ready to trade punches]. If that’s what I have to do, if that’s what works, I’ll stand and trade with Manny Pacquiao. I’m a pressure fighter, high-tempo from the word go.”

Image source: Sports Illustrated (

Horn’s trainer Rushton says it will be a cracker of a fight, with two dangerous punchers throwing bombs from the first bell. He cites his style of teaching as ‘Broken Rhythm Pressure’ where his young boxer stalks his prey, able to switch to southpaw to change the angle, hit you with something you are not expecting. Rushton says he’s never seen his boxer truly hurt.

“Manny will train and do the best he can, and hopefully we get the fight over with very quickly, we get out of there, we say hi to the Australian fans and media and come home.” - Pacquiao’s manager.

The bell goes for the final round for the boxer from Australia that many experts dismissed as a no-hoper. This young warrior has traded blows with a boxing legend yet no one knows who is winning; it’s that close. Not according to ESPN though, who’s card has it at 7-4 for Pacquiao, yet Twitter is calling it for Horn. The crowd is baying for blood, which is all over the ref’s shirt, and the sporting coliseum is a seething mass of fans praying for the knock-out punch from the local boy. Pacquiao’s face is smeared with rivers of red as he dodges haymakers from Horn. “Give credit to Jeff Horn; he has come to fight,” the ESPN commentators say over the din. The last flurry of punches and it’s all over.

The young kid, bullied at school, who took it upon himself to change his life, to help himself for the good and who had only twice boxed for prize purses is the new WBO welterweight champion of the world.

Horn is boxing’s unlikeliest world champion in this his seventeenth undefeated fight with a unanimous-decision win over Manny Pacquiao.

In the ring, far from the school playground, pandemonium reigns.

Trent Pridmore
Trent Pridmore


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