Being subjected to incessant bullying during his childhood years, Jason Saab bore the brunt of disparagement primarily due to his health issues and skin colour. At 23, Saab has overcome his numerous personal challenges and now stands as one of the fastest competitors in the NRL.
He is gearing up to embark on a new journey by transitioning from footy to boxing, with a professional debut awaiting him. Saab, the winger for Manly, shares that he has got this far by not giving up amidst health struggles, being bullied or even when his footballing skills were subpar.
His aims have now expanded beyond the realm of rugby as he aspires to master another sport to the best of his ability. Saab is thus following the trajectory of his predecessors Joe Williams and Anthony Mundine, both of whom made the switch from football to boxing.
Motivated by his belief that his trials are spiritual tests that instil necessary qualities in him, Saab hopes to inspire others with his enduring spirit. Commencing his career in the NRL with St George Illawarra Dragon in 2019, Saab signed on with Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in 2021.
Saab, who previously grappled with issues surrounding his self-identity and self-assurance, sees boxing as an additional platform to challenge and overcome his past insecurities. In his view, entering the ring, even purely for sparring, bolsters confidence, offers a reality check, stimulates personal growth and development.
At Final Rounds Gym in Hoxton Park, southwest Sydney, Saab trains alongside fellow Manly footballers Haumole Olakau’atu and Josh Aloiai. In 2009, the gym was opened by trainer and owner Hassan El-Achrafi, who has gone on to coach league players preparing to compete in the ring, as well as on the field.
El-Achrafi asserts that Saab’s training recently has aimed to assist him in building his confidence and toughness to further improve his playing abilities on the field. El-Achrafi wholeheartedly believes that Saab features all the qualities great athletes possess, citing his commitment to learning, improvement, and his uncompromisingly high personal standards.
On December 9, Saab is scheduled to make his boxing debut against Kusitino Sireli at the Revesby Workers Club, training alongside former NRL player Joey Leilua in preparation for the bout. Leilua holds a high opinion of Saab and his abilities, continuing to affirm that he is a promising heavyweight contender to keep an eye on.
Fully committed to his football career, Saab’s contract with Sea Eagles extends until 2026. Despite his upcoming fight, Saab is clear that he doesn’t view boxing as a full-time profession yet. After this bout, he hopes to assess his performance and adaptability under pressure before making any decisions.
Saab ends on a high note by promising an entertaining fight for all spectators. Even though his main focus remains footballing, he has trained hard and respects the sport of boxing, anticipating a memorable fight night.