SAN ANTONIO – Jeffery Mays was a name once well-known in the amateur boxing world.
Then, he joined the U.S. Army for 21 years with two deployments to Iraq. Mays retired in 2014 and took his talents to a place he felt they were most needed -- the Boys and Girls Club on San Antonio’s East Side.
CLICK HERE TO SEE A GALLERY OF MAYS’ THROUGHOUT THE YEARS
“I wanted to do my part to give back and help the kids on that side of town,” he said. “I’m still in touch with just about every one of them.”
They were his biggest fans while he began coaching Team USA in 2017.
Now, he’s about to serve his country in yet another uniform as he heads to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics as one of four accredited boxing coaches.
“They made it official last month. It felt truly amazing,” Mays said.
Though always a goal, he’d never made it to the Olympics himself.
“I wanted to go as a boxer, but I had an injury and had to postpone those dreams, and now it’s full circle. I came back around as a coach,” he said.
Mays has been in Colorado Springs with the team at training camp since June 1, and Wednesday, he’ll be leaving U.S. soil.
“The athletes, since the postponement of the Olympics last year, a lot of them are just ready to get to it. We leave tomorrow for Miyazaki, Japan, where we’ll do a two-and-a-half-week training camp. Then, we’ll leave from there to go to Tokyo to the Olympic Village,” Mays said.
Olympic boxing starts July 23, and Team USA’s first member will compete on July 24.
“It’s the experience of a lifetime. This is what every amateur coach and boxer dreams of -- going to the Olympics. Just trying to put San Antonio on the map,” Mays said with a smile.
He said he’ll be representing the 210 while sending a message back to his East Side family.
“With hard work, dedication and belief, anything is possible,” Mays said.