Julius Jackson—a 175-pound contender, trained chef, and native of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands—has been putting his culinary skills to use over the last week by helping to feed victims of Hurricane Irma.
Julius Jackson, a tough 175-pound contender and a trained chef, can whip opponents in the ring and can whip up a mean soufflé in the kitchen.
Since Monday, the 30-year-old Jackson, whose nickname is appropriately “The Chef’’ has put aside his boxing aspirations and devoted his culinary skills toward feeding more than 800 victims in his native Saint Thomas of the Virgin Islands in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Irma.
The Category 5 hurricane roared through the Caribbean island and caused an estimated 38 deaths, according to several reports. Among them was the godmother of Jackson’s brother, John, a 28-year-old contender at 154 pounds.
“She got trapped under her bed during the storm. She was in her 60s,” Jackson said. “You hear about people being stuck in their homes or driveways due to debris. The saddest thing is the reports of loss of life.’’
Jackson has been cooking since he graduated from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach in 2008. He has been boxing since he was a kid. His father and trainer is Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, a two-division champion whose one-punch KO power destroyed fighters such as Terry Norris, Buster Drayton and Herol Graham during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Julius followed his father into the boxing ring, representing the Virgin Islands in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Four years later he became the head chef and partner in a catering business in St. Thomas.
After watching Hurricane Irma devastate his home island, Jackson decided to roll up his sleeves and use his cooking talents to bring relief to those who were suffering the after effects of the devastating storm.
Jackson is providing relief as manager and head chef for the non-profit, My Brother's Workshop Cafe and Bakery, working off a diesel generator out of a facility in a main area of downtown Saint Thomas.
“ It’s my home, and I don’t want to be anywhere else but here, saving lives, doing what I can to rebuild. That’s my mission for as long as it takes. ” Virgin Islands native Julius Jackson
“On a normal basis, we’re a school teaching cooking skills to kids who are at-risk youth or who don’t have a great background support system. But during this tragedy, we’re providing free food and water,’’ Jackson said. “A lot of houses are destroyed. There are shelters being rebuilt for people who don’t have homes right now, and people are low on resources.’’
“There was a lot of flooding, mud and water inside, and the floor is still dirty, but we scraped it out and went to work. The refrigerators, stoves, ovens and other equipment are operational, so we’ve storing food, keeping it cold and cooking. Right now, we’ve got about 30 volunteers from the community, some of whom are tourists stuck on the island. Our goal is to feed 500 per day.”
Food has included, “lobster, turkey, a lot of canned goods and different soups, rice, deli meats and vegetables for sandwiches,” said Jackson. “The Salvation Army and other restaurants’ kitchens were destroyed, so they’ve been bringing their food over to us.”
For now, Jackson’s boxing ambitions have been put on hold. But he is anxious to get back in the ring to pick up his world championship aspirations.
Jackson went 19-0 with 15 knockouts at 168-pounds, before suffering consecutive TKO losses to Jose Uzecategui and Jerry Odom.
Jackson rose to 178 pounds for his last fight, a first-round TKO of Alvaro Morales in July. He will resume his career at 175, and has kept sharp by being a regular sparring partner for unbeaten 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin.
“We were looking at doing a fight in St. Martin, which would have been the first professional fight there. I was going to be the main event on that card,” said Jackson.
“But during this tragedy, I’ll continue working. It’s my home, and I don’t want to be anywhere else but here, saving lives, doing what I can to rebuild. That’s my mission for as long as it takes.”
- Julius Jackson