Tasmanian boxer Luke Jackson heads to Belfast this month for his maiden world title challenge. (Supplied: Bruno Ferreira)
Tasmanian boxer Luke Jackson heads to Ireland this month for his first taste of a world title challenge, but getting there hasn’t been easy.
He is among an increasing number of athletes who are turning to online crowdfunding to help fulfil their pursuit of glory on the global stage.
The 33-year-old former Olympian, known as “Action”, has been training in Sydney for several weeks and soon heads to Belfast for his world featherweight bout with Carl Frampton on August 18.
Jackson has a perfect 16-0 record since turning professional and is rated at number five with the World Boxing Organisation (WBO).
While he has sponsors to get him to Belfast, he said it hasn’t been enough to cover the huge costs involved.
“There isn’t an income,” said Jackson, who has credited boxing with turning his life around after a troubled childhood.
“This is a career-high pay day for me, no doubt, but in the meantime I’ve got to do some personal training here and there to pay the way.
“When you’re training three times a day and you can’t eat much and you’re tired, the last thing I feel like doing is holding pads for someone to punch to earn money.
“I’m thankful for my local supporters in Tasmania who go to my gym which helps me pay the bills, but it doesn’t make me an income.”
Jackson was coy on what his fight against Frampton was worth.
“It’s good money, but if I win it’ll be even better money.”
Luke Jackson says many athletes face financial hardship in order to compete at the elite level. (Supplied: Bruno Ferreira)
Athletes turn to online crowdfunding sites
A local supporter of Jackson has created a crowdfunding campaign to assist him with the high costs of training camps and the trip to Belfast.
The boxer has distanced himself from the campaign and said he wasn’t one to ask for help.
“We as athletes, we struggle, but there’s always someone worse off than us,” Jackson said.
“I’m not one to put my hand out and ask for anything. I’m not going to get on social media and beg people to pay me money.
“But the bottom line is we need money to live.”
Athletes are commonly turning to crowdfunding websites, which have a huge reach but also take a slice of the pie.
For example, GoFundMe in Australia takes 7.25 per cent of funds raised plus 30 cents per donation.
The former Olympian has to work at the same time as preparing for a world title fight. (936 ABC Hobart: Joel Rheinberger)
GoFundMe spokeswoman Rachel Hollis said the company “removed the traditional barriers associated with receiving financial support from others”.
“Often, there’s an expectation that funding isn’t necessary for elite talent as sport endorsements and sponsorship deals fund their careers,” she said.
“In reality, these big endorsements only exist for a small number of elite athletes.
“In just a few clicks, anyone from a professional boxer to a local football team is able to share their story and receive support.”
The Australian Sports Foundation has helped athletes raise $350 million. Last financial year, donations through the foundation to grassroots sporting organisations was up 61 per cent.
A spokeswoman for the Tasmanian Government said the National Representative Fund and Tasmanian Institute of Sport scholarships helped support amateur athletes with competition and travel costs.
Under the fund, a maximum grant of $500 is offered to athletes and coaches chosen for an international team competing overseas.
Jackson ‘feeling great’ ahead of big fight
Jackson said he was in top form and feeling “fantastic” ahead of his clash with Frampton.
“I keep a diary of all my training, and today the message to myself was that I have the best job in the world,” he said.
“I’m living my life on my terms, how I want to live it, and I’m creating opportunities that I’ve dreamt of.
“At the end of it, I wrote ‘don’t take it for granted’ because it will all be over one day.”
The titleholder Frampton is reported to have said he’s a “level above” Jackson, who will head into the fight as the underdog.
“I know of Carl. I wouldn’t say we have a relationship, I respect him as a man and as a fighter. I’m sure we’ll shake hands after the fight.”