Everything about Jimmy Abbott is big, from his size 14 cowboy boots to his 5XL T-shirt. Then there’s his voice. When he laughs it echoes through the lounge of his home in Heidelberg, Gauteng.
The former boxer’s smile, stretching from ear to ear, is big and welcoming. But biggest of all are this huge man’s heart and jovial personality.
“This is my cherry, Annette. My tin of condensed milk,” he says, introducing his wife of nine years.
Sitting on a black leather couch, Jimmy (53) recalls how at one stage in the ’80s he was South Africa’s youngest heavyweight boxing champion, with Springbok colours, and ranked No 9 in the world at his peak. Now – three heart attacks later – his biggest achievement is the mere fact he’s sitting here chatting to us.
“I now have to have stents in my veins but I have to lose a further 40 kg before they’ll put them in,” he says. At 170 kg he’s already 230 kg lighter than a few years ago. At his heaviest he weighed 900 pounds, Jimmy says. We do a quick calculation: 402 kg.
Asked how he lost 230 kg he says, “None of it was down to me. All credit goes to the Lord.”
Read more of Danél Blaauw’s interview with Jimmy in YOU 20 December 2012.