Jahmal Harvey: From Football to Boxing in Paris 2024
by Luke Santangelo
About 30 minutes south of Washington D.C. is a blue-collared small town in Oxon Hill, Md. This city has produced one of the most anticipated young male boxers across the nation. Jahmal Harvey, a 21-year-old native of Oxon Hill, has become one of the faces of USA Boxing and continues to impress boxing fans. Harvey’s story comes from passion, determination, and a fighting mentality. Harvey has shined bright on the biggest stages in his young career, but he is only focusing on one achievement, and that is to win gold at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
However, when we go back to the beginning of Jahmal’s athletic career, it doesn’t start with boxing but starts with football. The featherweight boxer, who stands at 5’6 now, only knew football and was willing to do whatever it took to get to an elite level for the sport he loved at the time. Harvey was seen in the backfield playing running back or lining up at cornerback. Harvey, a little undersized at that next level, was challenged by his coach, Daryl Davis, to get in the ring and work on his physicality.
“My football coach started a boxing gym,” stated Harvey on the beginning of his boxing journey. “He had other football players come and workout too, but I stuck with it. So, I was the first one to start fighting.”
Harvey explained that after starting boxing at 13, he would play both sports for a time but then had to sit down with his coach and weigh out both options. Ultimately, he chose boxing because he felt it was an even playing field. He would compete against the same size and weight, and he liked that in boxing, he controlled the outcome.
Jahmal is now all in on boxing and immediately made a name for himself. He was dominant at the junior and youth levels, winning a combined seven gold medals and two silvers at those two levels. Once Harvey went to the elite stage, he explained that is when he realized his Olympic dreams were a reality. At the time, Harvey was around 18 years old and was training and sparring with Olympians such as Keyshawn Davis and Duke Ragan, which helped pave his legacy to where he is now.
Harvey’s resume speaks for itself as we fast-forward to the present. The resilient and fast-paced boxer won gold at the Elite World Championships in 2021, becoming the first male boxer to win the World Championships since 2007. He also brought home gold at two international tournaments in 2023, including the Santiago Pan American Games, which led him to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
However, Harvey said one moment that sticks out to him was when he went on a three-fight losing streak in 2022. Harvey can be found in the gym working on his game day in and day out, and that is where he likes to go to limit the distractions. So, when it was time to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Harvey knew what to work on.
“I was used to winning all the time, and then in 2022, I went on a three-fight losing streak, and I feel that was good for me because then I had to really focus on the areas I had to improve on,” Harvey explained on his journey to Paris. “So, when I got to Pan Ams, I knew what I had to improve on and what I had to do to be a complete fighter and qualify.”
Harvey explained he isn’t an emotional guy, and when he qualified, he was happy to have punched his ticket to Paris. Still, he was mainly thinking about winning gold at the Pan American Games and wanted to take advantage of a possible Olympic matchup in Paris.
He loves to compete. The Pan American gold medalist is a born competitor who loves to work hard. Harvey goes to the gym daily to get away from distractions and compete in the sport he loves. When asked about his accolades, Harvey stayed humble and explained that he is a born competitor.
Harvey explained that smiling and having a good time comes naturally to him, and he genuinely enjoys the sport. He stated that he and his two brothers and cousins would fight in the living room and throw gloves on. Jahmal and his family have an unbreakable bond. A bond that lasts to this day and the people he thinks about before every fight. Harvey always wanted to make his parents proud and show that all their hard work, money, and commitment to his career paid off. Well, Jahmal Harvey is now a World Champion and an Olympian boxer and has his eyes on one prize, and one prize only.
“I want that gold. Simple.”