|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - August 05, 2015
His nickname said it all. Jerome Jackson was known throughout his career as "Silky". The smooth-boxing North Philadelphia middleweight fought as a professional between 1977 and 1982, and faced a number of significant opponents. He came from a fighting family; his younger brother Ernest was also a professional fighter.
On Wednesday, August 5, 2015, Silky Jackson died at just 55 years of age.
Jackson, a product of North Philly's ABC Recreation Center (26th & Master Streets), turned pro on August 23, 1977, on the big platform of the Hagler-Monroe III undercard at the Spectrum. Jackson was 17 years old. He was managed and trained by North Philly legend, Fred Jenkins, who at the time was only 21 years old and barely out of the pros himself. (His legend status would come much later.) Jackson was the very first professional that Jenkins handled.
"They called him 'Silky Smooth'," Jenkins said about his old friend. "He had the best left jab in the business. He could win a fight with the jab alone."
That first start was a 4-round draw for Jackson, and his second bout a loss (to Guy Gargan over six rounds). However, beginning in his third fight, Jackson assembled a fine, nine-fight undefeated streak that lasted nearly two years.
During that stretch, Jackson beat Teddy "The Irish" Mann, Dancin' Dan Snyder, Billy Freeman, Fred Brown and Gary Guiden. As 1979 drew to a close, Jackson dropped a 10-round decision to Sammy Nesmith.
Jackson rebounded with a dominant TKO victory over Sammy Floyd at the 69th Street Forum in Upper Darby (pictured above). In his next bout, Jackson knocked down Wilford Scypion in the first round, but lost an 8-round decision to the future world title challenger.
"He got robbed over and over," Jenkins said. He only really lost two or three fights (in his career)."
Jackson then entered the ESPN boxing tournament and beat Bob Patterson in the regional semi-finals. However, waiting for Jerome in the next round of the tournament was fellow-Philadelphian Frank "The Animal" Fletcher. The Animal won the bout (KO5) and went on to take the national ESPN championship title.
Jackson paused for two years before returning to the ring on June 20, 1982 for what turned out to be his final career bout. Jackson lost by 8-round decision to Willie Ray Taylor and called it quits afterward.
Jackson posted an overall career record of 11-5-1, 3 KOs, and besides the Spectrum and Forum, also appeared at the Blue Horizon, the Sands Casino Hotel and Resorts International Hotel Casino.
"He had one of the best jabs and was one of my best fighters, but had too much street life," Fred Jenkins told boxing writer Ken Hissner in 2009.
During his boxing career, and for a period after it, Jackson was a welder at Eastern Body. He also helped to train fighters with Fred Jenkins at the ABC Rec until fairly recently.
According to Jenkins, Silky had two kidney transplants over the past 20 years and suffered from declining health ever since. Still, his extended illness did not stop him from working in the gym and going to local boxing shows. Recently, his health took a turn and he passed away on August 5th.
I did not know Jackson. In fact I never met him, although we probably attended many of the same boxing cards in recent years.
"He was the nicest guy you could ever meet," Jenkins said.
I regret that I never did.
Services for Jerome "Silky" Jackson will be held at Shiloh Apostolic Temple, 1516 Master St. in North Philadelphia on Saturday, August 15th. Viewing 9-11 am, followed by a funeral service.