TONY JEFFRIES was left heartbroken when he was forced to retire in 2012 following a spate of hand injuries.
But almost a decade later, he has built a social media empire through his viral Instagram training videos and a roster of celebrities he trains in his Los Angeles Box N’ Burn gym.
From Hollywood actors to world champion sports stars and big businessmen, Sunderland-born Jeffries has swapped the boxing gloves for pads as he coaches some of the world’s most recognisable faces.
He told SunSport: “There’s a big list of high-profile people, and one thing I always notice about training celebrities is that their work ethic is really, really good and it has to be to get where they are.”
Jeffries has struck up a personal friendship with singer Robbie Williams – one of his hardest-hitting clients – along with other surprise A-list punchers.
He said: “I’ve trained Robbie Williams for a while and he can punch, really well, very hard.
“A lot of celebrities come into the gym, Chris Hemsworth was a big one, he can box really well.
“I have guys like Travis Barker from Blink-182, he’s very fit.
“I work with Jenson Button, he comes into the gym often and he loves it. It’s mad out here, you’ll think you recognise and then you realise it is them!”
Jeffries revealed the most attraction his gym received was when former UFC champion Conor McGregor popped in to spar Chris van Heerden before facing Nate Diaz for a second time.
He said: “His manager actually called us about a week before and said, ‘Conor is in town, can we use the gym?’ I said yeah definitely.
“When he came into the gym he came up to me and asked, ‘How’s it going Tony?’ He knew who I was because I fought his friend in the Olympics.
“Every time he comes to Los Angeles he comes in, he was here just before quarantine.
“He’s a special athlete, he really is. He always wants to learn and get better, it’s awesome.”
Jeffries – a 2008 bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympic Games – had no idea where his life was heading when he announced his enforced retirement.
But after moving to LA and working in a local gym, he met his now business partner Kevan Watson and set up a beach bootcamp.
Before long the dream of coaching boxing was realised, and they set up the Box N’ Burn academy in Santa Monica.
The internet-savvy former light-heavyweight was already one of the first boxers to capitalise on using social media, and noticed a gap in the market for online training.
Jeffries explained: “I noticed the response was massive so I kept doing it and now it’s turned into a separate business from Instagram.”
The Brit, who left pro boxing with nine wins and one draw, has over 250,000 Instagram followers thanks to his training clips and has worked with the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard in seminars.
The 35-year-old also travelled the world teaching personal trainers how to coach boxing, but has stopped cornering fighters professionally, having worked with both pro boxers and UFC fighters.
He insists his primary ambition is now passing on the sweet science to as many as possible.
He said: “My passion now is teaching people how to teach others to box.”