MEET the Mini Mackem, who’s hot on the heels of his big-hitting uncle.
Tony Jeffries’ nephew Leon Briton, 11, is hoping to keep boxing success in the family by bringing another Olympic medal home to Sunderland.
Next month he will compete in his first boxing match at the same venue, the Roker Hotel, as Tony’s first fight when he was also 11.
Farringdon School pupil Leon, who is Tony’s sister Sarah’s son, has also had special Lonsdale shorts made in the style of his uncle’s red and white Mighty Mackem fighting gear.
Tony, 26, who won bronze at the Beijing Olympics, said: “He’s been training for two years but has started getting really serious about it in the last year.
“It’s really important to start boxing at a young age as it’s difficult to pick up when you’re older.
“I’m not just saying it because he’s my nephew, he’s actually really good for his age. He’s a bit cheeky, but he’s got time to learn and improve.”
Tony added: “You’ve got to be good enough before the coaches will put you up for a fight so he is doing really well.
“I’ve been letting the coaches do their thing as you don’t want too many people interfering.”
Though Tony lost his first fight at 11, it didn’t stop him from becoming a boxing hero in later years.
Leon’s fight will take place on October 7 when he will represent his club The Olympian, in Ryhope, which is run by Tony’s dad Phil.
It’s the gym where Tony trains when he’s not in LA and where Leon has been picking up tips to be a knockout success.
Leon, from Moorside, who trains three times a week, said: “I’m really excited about the fight.
“I’m not nervous at all. I’ve been to four of Uncle Tony’s fights and I really like the sport. I want to do it when I’m older and win an Olympic medal too.”
Tony, who first began training at Lambton Street Boys’ Club before moving to the Sunderland ABC gym for his first fight, said: “I’m so impressed by his confidence. I didn’t have that when I was his age. He’s been doing his victory ring dance in the house.
“I’ll be there on the night but I think I’m more nervous than anyone. He’s the first one in the family to follow in my footsteps. I’m not sure if his mam will be able to watch him.
“My mam came to my first fight and had to run out because her little boy was being hit. She’s not been to see me fight since – she can only watch me on TV through her fingers.”