Sunderland Olympian Tony Jeffries praises 'amazing' SAFC Museum on return to home city

Wearside Olympic boxing hero Tony Jeffries has hailed a museum dedicated to all things Sunderland AFC as he makes a return to his home city from America.

Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 1:38 pm
Tony Jeffries meets with SAFC Museum director Michael Ganley.
Tony Jeffries meets with SAFC Museum director Michael Ganley.

Sunderland born and bred Tony, who runs two gyms in Los Angeles since retiring from the sport through injury, visited the SAFC Museum exhibition at the city's Library and Arts Centre in Fawcett Street.

The die-hard Black Cats fans, who used to work in a burger van outside the Stadium of Light while he was an amateur fighter, is back home for a two-week visit alongside wife Sarah, 31, and the their daughters Jayde, one, and Jessie, five months.

Tony Jeffries meets with SAFC Museum director Michael Ganley.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It is the first time the retired sportsman, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and his immediate family have been back to Sunderland in two years.

Speaking as he took a look around the exhibition former Farringdon School pupil Tony, 31, who tried on a shirt worn by SAFC legend Kevin Phillips, said: "I think this is amazing.

"The last time I saw this was when it was in the Bridges and I was impressed then, but this is something else.

"If there was something like this on Newcastle I'd probably even go and see that, it's that good.

Oscar-winning actress Reece Witherspoon.

"People will come from all over to have a look, not just Sunderland supporters. It's so educational as well as fun.

"I'm also surprised at how much the city is changing for the better. If I'd been living here I probably wouldn't have noticed, but it's refreshing to see."

Tony even brought along his friend, Team GB Paralympian Zoe Robinson, who competes in the Boccia event, to see the memorabilia.

The exhibition will be on display for a number of months and it is hoped it will eventually be able to have a permanent home.

Thor actor Chris Hemsworth.

SAFC Museum director Michael Ganley, who owns all of the pieces in the display, said: "It's great to see Tony come down.

"He's doing so well in LA but he's still a real advocate for Sunderland in terms of the city and the football club."

Tony's work stateside continues to go from strength to strength and he now runs two gyms, in Santa Monica and Brentwood, under his Box 'N Burn brand.

Among those who have trained there include Oscar winning-actress Reece Witherspoon, Thor actor Chris Hemsworth and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett.

Tony Jeffries meets with SAFC Museum director Michael Ganley.

MMA superstar Connor McGregor has even dropped in for a visit.

"I love living in LA because of the opportunities it has brought me," he added.

"I'm highly motivated like I was in my boxing career and I want Box 'N Burn to be the best it can be.

"I'm getting emails every month from people all over the world who want to do franchises with us, so hopefully sometime soon the gyms will be everywhere."

Tony also spoke of the impact the death of one of his own heroes Muhammad Ali has had on his and those he works with in America.

The iconic three-time world heavyweight champion passed away earlier this month aged 74 after battling Parkinson's Disease for more than 30 years.

Oscar-winning actress Reece Witherspoon.

"With Ali, it wasn't just people interesting in boxing who his death has affected," said Tony.

"He influenced so many people's lives and you can see that by how many tributes there are still being put on social media.

"He was a great man who did so many unbelievable things that won't ever be forgotten."

Thor actor Chris Hemsworth.