Bryant Jennings is one of the leading heavyweight boxers in
the world, with an impressive international record including two title
At school he played American football and basketball and competed in the 200 metres and shot put. He continued to play basketball before taking up boxing at age 24. Building a record of 13-4 in the amateur sport he made the finals of the 2009 National Golden Gloves where he lost to Cam Awesome.
Bryant made his professional debut in 2010, winning his
first 19 matches as he rose through the rankings. The wins included a win over former world
champion Siarhei Liahovich. Fighting
title contender Artur Szpilka he won by technical knock out in round 10 and
this earned him a win and a match against another title contender, Mike
Perez. Winning by split decision over 12
rounds he earned a shot at the unified world title in a fight with Wladimir
Taking the champion the full distance and losing by
unanimous decision, his comeback has added five wins and two losses as he
continues to fight at the highest level.
In March 2019 he had a record of 24 wins and three losses
from 27 fights, with 14 of the wins from knockouts.
Bryant has been vegan since 2015. “I don’t eat animal product whatsoever” Bryant told Great Vegan Athletes. “4 years and counting – 8 of my fights I’ve been full vegan.”
Reported in the media as starting veganism before that, it’s
been a gradual process.
Explaining that it was never an overnight process, Bryant was motivated by “dietary health and humane issues”. He had already started to move towards veganism when he beat the previously undefeated Szpilka and Perez.
“I was introduced to it young but just didn’t recognise the importance” he says. Bryant explains that a group of friends were motivated to change their lifestyle, and while he was the most disciplined of the group, he had the most concerns due to his career.
In the end he found things were manageable.
“The transition was a little difficult because of the fact that I am a heavyweight boxer but once I transitioned everything was OK. I actually started to be able to think better and to think clearly.
“My athletic abilities pretty much didn’t change, it just maintained, but it made it much better to move and make decisions based off the clarity that I was able to have.”
In a high profile sports with trainers watching his every
move, Bryant soon saw that his trainers accepted the change.
“They believe in it because they see no demise in my abilities when I became vegan.”
Bryant continues to train hard, and fuels it with plants.
“The type of meals I eat are very simple. I pretty much eat just a whole food diet, I try to stay away from as many processed foods as possible so it’s really just fruits, vegetables, beans nuts and other types of whole foods.”
The 6’ 3” (191 cm) American recognises that he’s not typical
as a vegan heavyweight, but also understands that he’s making the best
decisions not the easiest.
“Every five blocks there’s a McDonald’s, but there may be one Whole Foods every 30 blocks or every 30 miles. You’ve just got to have the dedication to where you’re like, ‘OK, I’m passing all these obstacles just to go to the goal.’ It’s just like living in the hood and somebody trying to get over the addiction of drugs. On every corner you’ve got somebody asking you, ‘Yo, you good?’
“You’re just trying to make it to the bus stop and go to work and live a clean life, but somebody at every corner just keeps stopping you and saying, ‘We got this weed. We got this coke. I got that new shit.’ It’s the same thing. You’ve just got to be strong, and you’ll fight through it and know what’s best for you.”