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I’m a deaf boxer – I was teased as a kid but I’ll be a champion with Jake Paul

A DEAF boxer who was beaten up by bullies as a kid is fighting back after signing with influencer Jake Paul.

American Julian Smith, 32, boasts a 7-2 record in his short career so far – but his talent is undeniable.

Deaf boxer Julian Smith, 32, boasts a 7-2 record in his short career so far


Deaf boxer Julian Smith, 32, boasts a 7-2 record in his short career so farCredit: LinkedIn
Julian recently signed with social media megastar and professional boxer Jake Paul


Julian recently signed with social media megastar and professional boxer Jake PaulCredit: Richard Pelham / The Sun

Dubbed “Quiet Storm”, the 5ft 9in welterweight recently signed with social media megastar and one of the new faces of boxing, Jake Paul.

But Julian went through hell to end up in the boxing ring as a deaf competitor.

He smashed his way to success without hearing any words from his coaches or any corner advice during rounds.

The boxer can’t hear the referee’s instructions – or the ringing of the bell when the fighting ends.

His coach, Rafeal Ruiz, told The Sun how he came up with creative ways to communicate while Julian was in the ring – such as using coloured towels.

“Julian has to consistently adjust during the fight,” he said.

Fighting out of City Club Hills in Illinois, Julian first learnt to box with his brother Brandon Smith – a boy seven years older and a whole world wiser back when they were teens.

Brandon gave Julian a pair of red boxing gloves and taught him how to take a punch – and not be afraid to give one back.

His mum was his biggest source of encouragement after she found him being bullied and brutally beat up regularly by kids for being deaf.

The boxing star contracted meningitis when he was six-months-old – leading to a serious hearing impairment that left him unable to hear.

As a young child growing up in Chicago, many kids his age didn’t understand the issues Julian faced every day – meaning he was picked on and singled out.

Using sign language with the help of his mum, Julian told The Ring: “I was very much teased and picked on. It was ignorance.

“No one could understand a kid who is different.

“There were no deaf people around. They may have heard about deaf people, but never came in contact with deaf people.

“They just jumped me because I was different. I went to a special school so the kids in the area didn’t know me. I only had friends at school.”

Julian’s brother Brandon – who had been a huge source of support – tragically died in 2012 due to gun violence.

Julian was left even more determined to fight for a living – and prove to his brother that he was a warrior.

The boxer recalled being told to keep fighting until you can’t fight anymore by Brandon in the gym.

Rafeal is Julian’s cut man and coach, but he considers himself a friend, mentor and protector after knowing the boxer for 10 years.

Julian first came to Rafeal’s attention when the young man came into the gym looking to achieve his goal of winning world championships.

The gym’s head trainer at the time, Perry Scott, asked for Rafeal’s help as he hadn’t trained a deaf fighter before.

When Julian was an amateur fighter, Rafeal and the team used colour-coded towels to communicate with Julian when he was in the ring. 

“We couldn’t shout commands, but by waving a coloured towel Julian would see the towel and know what to change up,” Rafeal told The Sun.

“Each colour had its own meaning whether to throw an upper cut, go to the body, or come forward.”

But since turning professional, they’ve evolved their methods. 

“We have increased Julian’s boxing IQ, and we train him repeatedly on what to do with little or no instruction until he comes back to the corner,” Rafeal said.

“Julian has to consistently adjust during the fight.

“In addition, Julian now has a professional sign language interpreter to assist in the corner between rounds and at each match we inform the referee that Julian is deaf, and he needs assistance that the round has ended. 

“The referees are usually pretty good at stepping in between Julian and the opponent when the bell rings.”

Julian communicates through sign language and often has his mum by his side to help translate his feelings and thoughts to others.

On the official Julian Smith website, he credits his beloved mum for the success he’s found in life.

“She would not allow my disability to stop me from manoeuvring through life’s obstacles,” he said.

“My mum persisted to never give up without a fight.”

Now he fights for a living, appearing on shows as the main event – and signed with Jake Paul.

Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions banner signed Julian on May 26 this year – causing a social media frenzy of support after his story was told throughout fight week on DAZN.

He’s gone on to fight twice on Jake Paul’s cards, winning one and losing his debut.

His career has already seen major success – not only by normalising deaf athletes, but also in the ring where he has an impressive 84-7 amateur boxing record.

He’s a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and has won five belts as an amateur including a WBC version.

Julian said: “People assume I’m dumb because I can’t hear.

“I always want to prove to other people that we’re all the same.

“I want people to respect me.

“Hard-of-hearing people do have issues communicating, but you always have to respect people that have disabilities.”

Julian said being deaf has its advantages, such as tuning out pre-fight trash talk from his opponents and crowd noise that could be distracting or nerve-wracking.

Like Julian, deaf Mexican fighter Luis Gerado Castillo and his coach have come up with creative a way to communicate with each other during fights.

The boxer knows when to change game plans and tactics by his coach moving the ring ropes and hitting the mat.

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Mario D’Agata was the first deaf world champion boxer after he won the bantamweight title in 1956.

And Reece Cattermole became the first deaf British boxer since the 1970s in 2018.

Julian smith, middle, with Rafael Ruiz, left, after winning a boxing fight


Julian smith, middle, with Rafael Ruiz, left, after winning a boxing fight


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