England’s boxing brothers save fighting for the ring

While all siblings may enjoy their fair share of scraps, very few battles between brothers can match the skill shown in James, Frankie and Jessie Smith’s physical confrontations over the remote control.

For these three young Hailsham ABC brothers, separated by just four years, are all England international boxers and among the brightest pugilistic prospects on the south coast.

Smith brothers.jpg

Smith brothers.jpg

Eldest brother James – nicknamed Sid after notorious rocker Sid Vicious – and Frankie are both two-time national champions, while the youngest of the trio, Jessie, is a Southern Counties finalist.

“He’s just been unlucky though,” says Sid immediately after Jessie reveals his comparatively lesser achievements. “He’ll win a tournament soon. He’s certainly good enough.”

One thing definitely for certain is the camaraderie between these boxing brothers.

Although the relationship between many young siblings can combust at the slightest hint of competition, the Smith brothers are bound by ties forged from a shared affection for one of sport’s toughest arenas.

Eighteen-year-old Frankie, the middle child, says, “We don’t actually argue that much, we’re really close and it helps with a lot things. Instead of going running by ourselves, we can go with each other.

“It’s never been very competitive between us, we all try and help each other out because we all know how hard it can be.”

“My brothers are actually really nice to me, believe it or not,” adds 16-year-old Jessie, who has avoided the stick normally endured from older, macho siblings.

“They used to push me around a bit when I was younger but that doesn’t happen anymore!

“They both do everything they can to encourage me but there is that pressure to live up to what they’ve done.

“I use that as a good thing though. You couldn’t ask for better role models and I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps.

“It’s motivation rather than pressure.”

Since Sid’s first tentative steps into a Seaford boxing ring at the tender age of nine, the brothers – who actually live near Uckfield – have come to adopt the old-school Hailsham gym as their natural boxing home.

“We heard it was good down here and the coaching is probably the best we’ve had,” says 20-year-old Sid, who revels in the close-knit atmosphere at Hailsham where training nights can attract anywhere between five and ten fighters.

“Adam [Haniver] gets more time with you; you get more time on the pads as well and just more time for quality coaching.”

Frankie adds, “Our dad was very strict with us and that’s given us the discipline we need. He did a lot for us in the early days, got us started and drove us around everywhere before Sid could drive.

“Plus me and Jessie picked up a lot up from Sid; we saw how well he was doing and that inspired us to try and do the same.”

While the youngsters may have picked up certain moves from their big brother, the three siblings are definitely not cut from the same fighting cloth, as coach Adam Haniver observes.

“It’s funny because each boy has a very different style.

“Frankie is very quick and sharp with his work, while Sid is a great all-rounder and you can tell he’s been really well-schooled.

“Jessie on the other hand is flashy, and has got into the habit of going in their looking to knock people out.”

These tenacious talents certainly face an intriguing 12 months. Sid speaks about the possibility of turning professional, but must first overcome a dislocated shoulder picked up in a routine sparring session.

Frankie harbours dreams of Team GB for Rio 2016, while Jessie remains focussed on winning tournaments and progressing up the domestic ladder.

Regardless of where they end up, neither of the trio are fazed by any foe.

“When you get to a certain level all the fighters are good, but we’re at that level as well” says Sid.

“We’ve all boxed against internationals but I don’t think any of us have come up against a boy who we thought was streets ahead of us. I’d back my brothers against anyone.”

One bout that won’t be happening in the future though is an all-Smith family affair.

Despite campaigning at similar weights – Frankie fights at 57 kg, Sid and Jessie at 60 kg – they insist they’ll never turn their talents on each other.

Unless it is over the remote control, of course.