The new Philly Blunt is up, and it’s nothing short of awesome. (You can listen here on the site, or listen here on itunes.) We spoke with Maleek Jackson, who runs a fitness gym in Northern Liberties. His story is incredible: the fifth of 13 kids who grew up on the “Smallside” at 18th and Catherine, he came up with any parental guidance. I asked him about falling in with the wrong crowd.
MALEEK: I grew up and I kind of veered off, you know. I was never the type of kid who really paid attention or cared about school. Then when I went to high school it took off. I started doing my own thing. The streets got more of my time than anything else.
REEF: What year is this? Late 90s, early 2000s?
MALEEK: This is early 2000s. And I ain’t gonna say I fell in with the wrong crowd, because all my friends were exposed to exactly the same things that I was exposed to.
REEF: So there wasn’t a lot of opportunity.
MALEEK: Right. It was normal. We sold drugs. I fell into a life of crime. I robbed people. I robbed businesses. And it was just the norm. We knew what we were doing was wrong, but we never was in a position where someone sat us down and was like, “Yo, stop doing what you doing.”
Once in prison, he became friends with a man named Taj, who started bugging him about getting his GED.
MALEEK: He said to me, “If you go home today, what you gonna do?” And I’m like, “Aw man, I don’t know.” But the fact of being free is enough, but it isn’t. Because if they grant you your freedom and you not prepared for that, you ain’t planned for that, then you know for sure that you’re gonna return…
He got his GED, he started to box, and soon started to think about his future. So when he get out, he had decided he either wanted to be a boxer, and if that didn’t work out a personal trainer. And when he got a chance to meet former middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, he jumped at the opportunity. Hopkins (who I interviewed in 2005) had also spent time in prison as a young man.
MALEEK: I see Bernard. I’m like nah. You know me, I just walked up to him. I’m like, “Hi my name is Maleek I just came home, I did ten years, I want to be a fighter. I know you hear this all the time, you know, this that and the third.” And that conversation led to an hour long conversation…so he paid Danny Davis, who was training Bernard Hopkins at the time, he paid Danny Davis to train me. Danny was training fighters in Canada and Russian, he was being booked in Vegas…
REEF: So you like, “While you gone…”
MALEEK: So yeah, while he was gone, he would leave the torch in my hand like “Yo, you always in the gym, you might as well be my assistant. I’m going away for two weeks. I got a list of clients that need personal training. You’ve been paying attention, like you know what to do. Just do it.” And you know I just followed suit. And it just came to me naturally, it just fell right into my plan B.
Find out which celebrity that he trains punches the hardest, what one word separates him from most other people, and what advice he has for people who want to get in better shape. This is a really cool interview.