#WinWithTheJab campaign: Why I’m backing the vaccine – Joe Maphosa

April 5, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


In terms of boxing training, Joe Maphosa knows he is one of the lucky ones. As a professional, he has continued to train while his amateur counterparts have been forbidden.

But that does not mean to say the 26-year-old from Thornaby in North Yorkshire has not been impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic – far from it.

It is why he is desperate to get things to go back to something like normal, and just one of the reasons he is backing the NHS vaccine roll-out and the England Boxing #WinWithTheJab campaign encouraging people from all communities to take up the offer when they are eligible.

“It’s been really tough with the gyms,” said Maphosa, who reached national finals at Elite level in 2012 and 2015 while boxing as an amateur. “You can’t have groups sessions and there are no amateur boxers allowed in the gym, so it is really quiet and a completely different environment.

“The energy levels are not the same when there aren’t people there to push you on and even when professional fights are taking place, they are not in front of fans.

“People like myself who are prospects and fighting just below that top level need to have fans in and be selling tickets to earn a wage because promoters, understandably, don’t want to put fights on if they are going to lose money.

“My last fight was last February and I’m not going to be fighting until July (against Doncaster’s Craig Derbyshire) this year, so that’s nearly a year and a half because of Covid. For an up and coming fighter, that’s a long time.

“If everyone gets the vaccine when they are offered it, then that is going to help sort the situation out more quickly and people can get their livelihoods back, not just in boxing, but whatever they do for a living.”

Covid-19 can affect anyone, regardless of how fit they are or what age, even if more serious illness is most commonly associated with people over the age of 65.

Flyweight Maphosa, who has a 10-0 pro record, says he has seen it in the professional ranks, with WBC female interim super-bantamweight title winner Rachel Ball suffering from its effects.

He said: “Covid can affect people in lots of different ways and doesn’t discriminate. Luckily I myself have not had it, nor those close to me, but I know people who have been badly affected.

“Rachel had it in January and all these weeks later she has still not been feeling fully right again – having to pull out of a world title fight (against Shannon Courtenay, which had been scheduled for 10th April) because of it.

“I will be having the vaccine once it becomes available to me and so should everyone, as I’m sure we would all like to see an end to the restrictions and things opening up again.”

Maphosa, who has recently celebrated the birth of his second child, a baby boy Marley, was lucky enough to be able to attend the birth following a negative Covid test, but had to miss out on some of the earlier hospital appointments.

He filmed his initial video message in both English and Ndebele, a provincial dialect of Zimbabwe, where he grew up before moving to England in 2002.

His message to the Zimbabwean community living here is simple: “We all want to get back to normal, but we can’t do that without us all having a Covid-19 jab. That’s the only way it is going to happen.”

“Research shows that it is safe and is free, with plenty of places you can go locally for it, so I would say go have it when you can.”

Book an appointment

Those who are eligible by virtue of age, health condition or occupation, people can go to www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination to book an appointment.