Unified Junior Middleweight Champion has given motivation speeches at grade schools and colleges in Maryland, passed out Thanksgiving meals during a community turkey drive and even scored a partnership with the Washington Redskins.
Jarrett Hurd remembers what it’s like to look up to famous champions and wishing to meet them. That memory is part of what drives the unified junior middleweight world champion to reach out to his community now.
“The guys who inspired me—Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather, guys in those positions—I wanted them to come past and talk to me,” said Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs), who successfully defended his IBF and WBA 154-pound titles last Saturday night with a fourth-round knockout of Jason Welborn on the undercard of the Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury fight on Showtime PPV.
“I wanted to talk with those guys I saw on TV. Now that I’m in the position I’m in, people in my area and people who reach out and want me to come to their school, it’s only right for me to go and be that face: that champion that you can grab his belts, you can take pictures with him, you can ask questions. I’m a human being.”
Hurd, 28, hosted a school drive at Downtown Locker Room in Forestville, Maryland (near his hometown of Accokeek) in September that was inspired by his desire to do something for others on his birthday.
“My birthday’s August 31. I was trying to figure out something to do to celebrate my birthday, and I said, ‘Man, I’m so blessed to be where I am, instead of me receiving gifts and all the love, I’d like to give back to somebody for my birthday,’” Hurd said.
“It was a great turnout. We handed out supplies for all the kids, they got to hold the belts, and they loved it.”
Hurd scored an impressive split decision victory over longtime 154-pound title holder Erislandy Lara last April. Prior to the bout, he’d torn the rotator cuff in his left shoulder, so after taking care of business in the Lara fight, he underwent successful arthroscopic surgery in June.
Jarrett put his recovery time to good use: since the school drive in September, he’s given a series of motivational speeches to the youth in his community.
“My trainer, Nesto Rodriguez, is a police officer for the Metro Transit Police,” Hurd said. “I spoke to some kids at the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Department—they have a program for kids.
“I talked about the fact that you don’t have to be in sports to be a champion in life. A winner in life is not necessarily someone who’s a big star. A winner is someone who’s happy in life and has accomplished small goals that they’ve set for themselves.
“I tried to teach them not to listen to anyone else, but to (develop) your own image. You don’t have to be like anyone else in this world. I don’t want to be like the great Floyd Mayweather or Sugar Ray Leonard—I want my legacy to be my own. I want to be ‘Swift’ Jarrett Hurd. When they speak about me, it’s me they see.
“I just tried to motivate them to stay on the right path.”
“ I don’t want to be like the great Floyd Mayweather or Sugar Ray Leonard—I want my legacy to be my own. I want to be ‘Swift’ Jarrett Hurd. When they speak about me, it’s me they see. ” Unified Junior Middleweight Champion Jarrett Hurd
Hurd also spoke to the kids about an unfortunate, ever-present part of growing up and achieving success.
“Cyber-bullying…I get hundreds of comments (on social media) every day, but I get real quiet in my mind and tune everything out, because those are the things that can bring you down and get you off track,” Hurd said. “Even with a lot of the positive comments I get—I don’t let that go to my head either, because you can get big-headed and not work as hard. You’ve got to stay focused on the task, whatever it is.”
Jarrett also motivated students at Bowie State University in Maryland on two separate occasions.
“Speaking to the business class was great. I spoke about how to manage your money, smarter ways to spend, and planning for the future. When I spoke to the football team, it was about becoming a world champion, what it takes—the hard work and dedication.”
Hurd has visited his former middle school, recalling his own journey and reminding the pupils what’s possible with diligence and hard work.
“I think out of all the people I’ve spoken to, the happiest and most excited were the kids and the staff, my former teachers, at Accokeek Academy. The kids got to hold the belts and they were so happy about that.”
Jarrett paused. “Back then I would never have thought I’d be where I’m at now.”
Prior to his December 1 fight against Welborn, Hurd has also secured a partnership with the NFL’s Washington Redskins. He attended a recent game and continued his newfound skill of motivating others, inspiring the players on the sidelines. Hurd also volunteered his time at a local turkey drive just before Thanksgiving, handing out meals to those in need.
Hurd’s community is giving back to him, too. The DC Hall of Fame awarded him with their 2018 Boxer of the Year award, and the Accokeek city council presented him with a plaque honoring his achievements. The accolades he’s received have only increased in recent months, and Hurd understands why.
“When I won my first world title against Tony Harrison, I got lots of love and support from the people closest to me. But after this win over Erislandy Lara, when I became number one, that’s when I opened a lot of people’s eyes,” Hurd said. “I was only given a few opportunities, but the ones I was given, I took full advantage.”
His words and action may inspire others to do the same.
For a closer look at “Swift” Jarrett Hurd, check out his fighter page.
"Outside the Ring" is a regular feature centered on the charitable efforts of PBC fighters. Learn more about what motivates these boxers and the causes they support outside the ring.