Luke Jackson on battle with OCD: “I can’t beat it by myself”

JOHN Mark Apolinario was supposed to be Luke Jackson’s toughest opponent.

But little did we know that the Tasmanian is in the midst of a far more important fight, one he is yet to win.

“I’ve battled with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder since I was a young kid,” admitted Jackson to Aus-Boxing.

“Since 2007 I’ve had difficulties with my breathing but I’ve always been able to control it with the right medical help. This training camp it took over my life and I couldn’t get a grip on it. It affected everything I did,”

“Then obviously I tore my right shoulder and was told to pull out of the fight by the doctor and physiotherapist,”

With only days remaining until his highly anticipated regional title challenge, Jackson, 31, was put in an unenviable position. Having injured his shoulder, there was every opportunity for him to not compete.

However, the former Olympic captain did the admirable thing by his team and chose to go ahead with the ten-round fight, despite having several valid reasons to withdraw. As it happened he turned up, and won in style.

“Pulling out was never going to happen, I sold 55 tables in a couple of days. If I pulled out of the show – it would have been devastating for my promoter Adam Wilcock – and for the sport of boxing in Hobart.”

“What do you do? Pull out because of a sore shoulder or because I’m having a bad day?”

“I have a saying that I live by called ‘find a way’ and that’s what I did.”

To his credit, Jackson (now 11-0, 5 KOs) put on a brave face for the entirety of a difficult training camp in Sydney and despite the unpleasant nature of his situation, he battled through it.

The Moonah-resident sought out help from several professionals, but their answers were not what he needed.

“To be honest I was in a really bad head space,” explained Jackson about his latest training camp.

“When I got back to Hobart from Sydney on the Tuesday, I had booked in to see my psychiatrist to try and get some answers to why all of a sudden I was really struggling again.”

“He suggested that I could try increasing my meds, but he said it could make me disoriented. That’s the last thing you want when making weight – and trying to fight – so I decided not to and just hoped it would pass.”


“But once the fight was over it sort of just came out, I needed to get it off my chest,”

“I said to my trainer Billy Hussein in the ring when the final bell rang – ‘I don’t know how I got through that’ – I told him I had been struggling really bad with my OCD. He had no idea about any of it.”

“Afterwards he mentioned that I seemed off in the dressing room and wasn’t my happy self like I always am before a fight. I still don’t know how I boxed ten rounds and won feeling like I was mentally.”

Luke Jackson is a workhorse. His credentialed and well documented amateur career saw him travel the world and beat many world class opponents. Not through natural ability, but sheer determination and will to win.

Jackson now uses those same fundamentals to help get himself through this difficult spell.

“To me training is always the easy part. Fighting is the easy part – life is hard for me – it’s always been a battle,”

“The only time I’m truly free from the world is when I’m training or fighting and now my OCD is trying to take that away from me. This camp it finally affected me and got to me when I was training as well as fighting,”

“This is why I know I need more help. I can’t beat it by myself. I’m a mentally strong person, I believe no one can beat me mentally. But I beat myself every day, I fight with myself every day. It’s so hard to explain.”

“There are definitely times and most recently it’s been at its worst. Some days are great, some are bad. Some days are so bad that I just want to sleep and forget the world. I wake up just wanting to go back to sleep,”

“I find myself wishing my life away, I obsess about everything. I create scenarios and problems in my head that don’t happen – or never will happen – and I find it difficult to stop thinking about them,”

“I can go for months without any symptoms and then bang, it creeps up behind you and takes control of your life again. I’ve dealt with this since a very young age and managed to survive and achieve many great things.”

Jackson understands that there is a method behind the madness that has helped him achieve great things.

And while his battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a gruelling fight, it’s one he plans to win.

“I believe without my OCD I wouldn’t have made the Olympic Games,” he concluded. “I wouldn’t have my own house, I wouldn’t have my own business and I wouldn’t be the WBA Oceania champion.”

“I also know that with what I had to deal with in my last fight and still be able to win, when I’m at my best I can compete with anyone. This gives me great confidence to move forward and get myself right for my next fight.”


Photo: Ferreira Photography



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *