A former teacher who took up boxing as a bullied teen, Jeff Horn shot to global fame in July when he pulled off perhaps the year’s most unlikely sporting victory, beating 11-time world boxing champ Manny Pacquiao to the WBO welterweight title.
Last financial year, he earned $45,000 from boxing purses; now he’s a multi-millionaire who sat next to Michael Phelps in the front row of the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
His meteoric rise is astonishing enough, but Horn’s personality makes him even more intriguing. In a professional world which is unforgiving and brutal, Horn, 29, is a softly-spoken “ordinary guy from the suburbs” who enjoys board games and performing magic tricks, and tells The New Daily becoming a first-time father any day now when wife Jo gives birth to their daughter is “going to be the highlight of my life. I just can’t wait.”
How will fatherhood stack up against everything else this year?
I think it will top the charts. I don’t think it’s anything you can beat.
What kind of dad do you want to be?
I imagine myself being a good dad, being protective but not overly. There are challenges I’m going to come up against but I think I’m going to always be there for my kids. I won’t allow them any shortcuts in life, but I’ll definitely try to help them out wherever I can.
How was it being Jeff Horn in 2017?
It’s been a massive year. It was frustrating at the start of the year. I was so excited, the emotions were like a rollercoaster throughout the whole time with fights and the big fight with Pacquiao and that kept on going for a while and then training hard for that. Getting that over and done with in July … It’s been a whirlwind since then. It’s been lots of fun anyway.
Who or what inspires you to get through those big fights?
I guess that is just me wanting to win, in myself. You’ve always got to want it yourself first, but then I’m also I’m fighting for my family, not just my wife, but our daughter to come, and I’m fighting for the rest of my family as well. I just want all of them to be proud and people that have been supporting me along the way. I want them to be proud of me, so, yeah, I’m fighting for a lot of people.
Has the world title changed you?
It’s a hard one. I haven’t changed as a person, but I suppose I’m very proud of what I’ve done. I guess a lot of my conversations that I’m having these days are all about the boxing and what I’ve done in the past, people congratulating me, so my conversations and what has been happening this year have changed a lot.
Are you enjoying the new fame and fortune?
The fame and fortune is fun, very fun at times, having all these things that you do and all the recognition that you get. But I’m starting to feel at times it would be nice to hide away just being your old self, sitting down and doing normal things and being out and about.
How long will you keep boxing?
At least for the next few years. I’ll have to keep training hard and keep putting all of my energy into that because I don’t plan on doing it for a long time, so I need to stay at the top for as long as possible and try to prove a lot of people wrong.
From A-list stars to politicians and athletes, we’ve named the 13 Australians who made headlines and sparked conversations – both heated and admiring – across the nation in 2017. Some covered themselves in glory. Some created controversy. Some made reputations, others lost them. From the cricket arena to the same sex marriage battlefield, regardless of whether they were beloved or booed, their personal and professional wins and downfalls had us talking over dinner tables and media channels.