Wife’s plea as Hornet set to raise the roof
JEFF Horn's wife has just one message for Anthony Mundine: "Please don't hurt my husband."
Jo Horn doesn't like boxing, and never has.
Despite that, she will be ringside at Suncorp Stadium tonight to support the shy young man she fell in love with at MacGregor High in Brisbane's south when he was a Year 12 nerd being terrorised by school bullies.
She has been ringside for almost all of Horn's bouts, from the time he had his first novice amateur fight 10 years ago.
She cheered his victory over Manny Pacquiao last year, and wiped away his blood and disappointment after his Las Vegas defeat against Terence Crawford in June.
She has even taking up boxing training with her husband one day a week.
And as her husband takes on the trash-talking, fast-punching Anthony Mundine tonight, she will yell encouragement but hide her face behind her hands if the blood starts to flow.
"It's agony watching Jeffrey fight," she said, using the Christian name the boxer's family prefers.
"I've never gotten used to it and I don't know how I cope with all the stress when he gets into the ring."
Often when they lie awake at night with their baby daughter Isabelle, Jo will gently hint that she wouldn't mind if he retired from the fight game even though Horn has become one of Australia's biggest earning sports stars, and will likely pocket more than $2.5 million tonight.
"I'd like Jeffrey to stop fighting, of course," she said.
"I do have heart-to-hearts with him about retiring. But I don't want it to seem like I'm trying to persuade him to give up boxing because he loves the sport.
"He loves to compete and test himself. He will stop boxing when he's ready but he knows how I feel about it."
Jo said she couldn't believe it all those years ago when Horn told her he wanted to have a proper amateur boxing fight.
"I thought he was just going to boxing classes to learn self-defence," she said.
"I said fighting wasn't part of the deal. But I went along to support him when he won his first amateur bout and it's gone on and on to this.
"Anthony Mundine was the big star of boxing when we were at high school and Jeffrey was getting picked on by bullies. I could never imagine he would be fighting Mundine one day at Suncorp Stadium or that he would beat Manny Pacquiao.
"It's just like this amazing dream. It's unbelievable."
The downside to fame and fortune, though, is constant recognition.
"I still can't go to the shops with Jeffrey because he gets stopped all the time for selfies and autographs," she said.
"Even I get noticed these days and it's even more bizarre that people recognise our little 11-month-old daughter Isabelle. How weird is that? You think 'my God how many people know about us?'.
"We really prefer just to be in our little bubble with our family and friends."
She said her big wish for tonight is that her husband wins the fight and that no one gets badly hurt.
She will be ringside with her parents and Horn's mother Liza Dykstra, who said yesterday that she was both "nervous and excited".
Horn admits he shed tears of joy last year with the birth of the couple's first child.
The family has just moved into a $1.7 million home at Sunnybank with enough bedrooms for more children.
A hopeless romantic, Horn proposed to Jo just after returning from the 2012 London Olympics where he made the quarter-finals.
The couple were staying at the Hilton Hotel at Surfers Paradise. Horn's sisters, Rebecca and Bianca, had already decorated the room with dozens of roses and Horn had a love song playing on the CD.
The music wafted on the gentle breeze coming from outside and out on the hotel balcony, as Jo wondered what was going on, Horn went down on bended knee and asked her to marry him.
Jo said yes, and Horn told The Courier-Mail it was his gold-medal moment.