A contender among us

More than once, Jamie Atherton has shown up to work with a black eye.

“It’s a bit of an ice-breaker,” he says. “When I’m doing a presentation, people remember me, that’s for sure.”

Jamie joined Hyland’s Sydney office in 2015 as an Account Manager. By then, he had already been boxing at the competitive level for more than two years.

The gold medal in the Queensland State Title was a moment that sticks with me.

The atmosphere was electric.

Growing up in England, Jamie was always involved in sports – mainly rugby. His parents cleverly enrolled him and his twin brother in a local martial arts group as a form of “controlled arguing.”

Turning injury into success

After decades of kickboxing, Taekwondo and Thai boxing, an injury forced a transition to traditional boxing. But Jamie turned a bum knee into a real success story, including a silver medal in the Australian Nationals in 2015 and a gold medal in the Queensland State Title in 2016.

“The gold medal in the Queensland State Title was a moment that sticks with me,” he says. “It was in a different state and there were 400 or 500 people supporting the other guy, with just me and my one trainer. The atmosphere was electric.”

At his latest competition in Sydney in November, Jamie got a lot more support. He could hear fellow Hylanders cheering him on as he won the main event in the Sydney Masters Super Fight Night. For many of his officemates, it was their first live boxing event.

When you’re in a match, it’s not to inflict pain.

The people who win the boxing match are the ones who are very calm.

His coworkers have always been aware – and supportive – of Jamie’s labor of love. It’s tough not to notice when he’s training. In the three months leading up to a fight, Jamie works out twice a day, six days a week – hitting the boxing gym in the mornings and doing cardio whenever he can fit it in.

“There’s no point in being able to have a load of great boxing combinations ready to go if you’re not fit enough to throw them,” he says.

The way the movies portray boxing – as an aggressive, angry sport – is not Jamie’s approach. He’s used to people asking him about his motivation for doing it. He explains that it’s not about beating up your opponent – it’s the complete opposite.

“When you’re in a match, it’s not to inflict pain. The people who win boxing matches are the ones who are very calm,” he says. “The thing that is really challenging is the mental side of it. I don’t use any anger at all. I just have this wave of calmness come over me and I try to control that energy and adrenaline.”

Taking lessons learned in the ring into the office

He compares the dedication and mental strength it takes to succeed at boxing to other aspects of life.

“Well, maybe not the hitting part,” he jokes. “But it’s the same thing with sales. If you’re giving a presentation to a group, you ought to be well-prepared, you ought to know your stuff and you need to stay controlled and calm. If something isn’t working, you’ve got to try something else.”

There is no doubt in the world that the healthier you are physically, the healthier you are mentally.

Jamie credits staying active to helping him be a better dad and husband, as well. He says his wife would probably prefer he choose a different activity, but she has been to every match and supports him when he’s training by making sure he is following a strict diet to be at the top of his weight class. His daughters don’t usually come to his fights, but they will sometimes go with Jamie to the boxing gym, and his older girl has her own set of gloves and will occasionally do a few combinations with her dad.

“If they wanted to, girls do boxing as well,” he says. “But, they actually have different interests, to be honest.”

Jamie hopes to continue to fight as long as he possibly can. He normally competes an average of two times a year, in the 40-to-45 age division, but there is a 60-and-up group as well. Leading up to a big fight, after months of training, he admits he has moments when he’s not sure he wants to continue to compete.

“But then at the end of the fight, where you win, lose, or draw, you experience that massive emotion and adrenaline and you remember all the reasons why you do it.”

Supporting work-life balance

Right now, Jamie sees no reason to stop. He credits his coworkers for being supportive, not just of his sport of choice, but with allowing him to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

“There is no doubt in the world that the healthier you are physically, the healthier you are mentally,” he says.

“One thing that’s really impressed me about Hyland is the people and the culture. Even the thousands of miles away that we are in Sydney, I think that culture has traveled across. That is not easy, and many companies fail miserably in their efforts,” says Atherton. “Maybe that’s one more reason why Hyland is a great place to work and is so successful.”

Clare Cottrill

Clare Cottrill

Clare Cottrill has been living the #HylandLife since 2013. As a content strategist on the Corporate Communications team, she writes about all things Hyland. She resides on Cleveland’s West Side... read more about: Clare Cottrill