Where Are They Now? Eugene Jackson
By Kelsey Mowatt
For long time observers of mixed-martial-arts it may seem like yesterday that they read about Eugene “The Wolf” Jackson fighting Wanderlei Silva at International Vale Tudo 10 or witnessed the California fighter tapping out Keith Rockel at UFC 35, but in reality more than a decade has transpired. In fact, it’s already been nearly five years since Jackson closed the books on a career that saw him score wins over fellow MMA pioneers like Joe Doerksen and Ronald Jhun, and battle decorated fighters like Jeremy Horn and Ricardo Almeida. Well, when FCF caught up with the 44 year-old Jackson recently to get an update on how “The Wolf” is spending his days, it didn’t take long to discover that MMA is as central to his life as ever before. (Pictured: Eugene Jackson standing to the right of son Nikko and his championship belt; youngest son Casey is on the left)
“Right now I still work at the Gladiators school, I have one in East Palo Alto, and I’ve worked real heavy with Fairtex and the Undisputed Boxing Gym,” said Jackson, who retired after Joe Riggs ended his three fight winning streak in September, 2007. “So I work with a lot of amateur fighters that are trying to go pro and I’m trying to get into managing certain pro fighters.”
Having dedicated much of his life to the martial arts, training and fighting, Jackson knows firsthand of the mental and physical benefits that come with a life tied to MMA. Accordingly, the UFC and Strikeforce vet is passing on his knowledge and experiences to others.
“Right now I do a non-profit where I go work with inner city kids,” said Jackson, who in addition to teaching youth in need, helps supply them with the gear and equipment they require to train. “I don’t always lock it to inner city kids; if I have kids that come from suburban areas then I work with them as well.”
“Most of them look for power,” Jackson added. “So now I give them power where they don’t have to show it on the street. You hear of some guys killing each other over dumb stuff, so my thing is to grab them now, start saving them, showing them other side. They get to meet people they’ve never met, they get to see that the whole world isn’t this hell hole that they live in…they don’t have to bang on the streets, they can do this in the ring, make some money and go somewhere.”
Other sports like boxing have often opened doors for youth to rise out of poverty, and while MMA is often associated with affluent athletes and college grads, Jackson believes the sport is increasingly become a path for impoverished kids.
“Now you’re starting to see a lot more inner kids training MMA at an earlier age,” said Jackson. “When I say inner city kids I’m not talking about nationality; you see more Latin kids, you see inner city white kids; all of these inner city kids are starting to get into jiu-jitsu, wrestling and boxing.”
In addition to helping others get a leg up on life through MMA, Jackson is also helping oversee the training of his sons Nikko and Casey, who both have begun preparing for a future career in MMA.
“Nikko has only been doing it for almost a year,” said Jackson. “He’s getting pretty good at submissions and he’s just started boxing, he’s doing really well. Then his little brother Casey is also doing really well. I think for a fact he has a really good shot at making it to the UFC.”
And when Jackson thinks back on a career that spanned from 1998 through 2007, what are some of his personal highlights?
“I think it would be the relationships I built,” said Jackson. “With the Tim Lacjiks, the Javier Mendezs and the Bob Cooks of the world. Those are the relationships that are forever. I also think being one of the first guys that had some success in the sport that people didn’t think would go anywhere, but being able to travel, being able to see the world, meeting people, I took a lot more out of that.”