Pattaya’s most colorful celebrity launches paperback autobiography

Brian Jacks, left, and Marc GIngell, right, pose with Canterbury Tales’ Dave Collier at the paperback launching of Brian’s life story.

PATTAYA, Thailand – There was a high turnout at Pattaya’s Canterbury Tales to help Brian Jacks celebrate his highly unusual life with a paperback signing of “Brian Jacks: The Mindset of a Champion”. The son of a London taxi driver who recognized the importance of self-defence, Brian was introduced to the sport at the age of nine. Dad’s daily support and training programs meant Brian became a national junior champion within five years. At the tender age of 15, when most lads were worrying about GCE “O” levels, he was packed off to Japan to learn from the best in the business. It was there that he earned his black belt and, returning to England in 1964, he soon became Britain’s first world championship medalist, adding an Olympic bronze in 1972.

That success is all the more remarkable as Brian, born in 1946, suffered from an undiagnosed hiatus hernia for the first eight years of his life. This left him unable to exercise but gave him much of the drive and enthusiasm which have lasted to the present day to promote judo and its relevance to everyday life. Before a fight, you give a bow to your opponent. Then you fight like fury but, at the end, you shake hands and bow again. “Everyone and every sport can earn from that,” says Brian. A BBC commentator named him “the iron man of British judo”.

But judo is only a small part of the story. He may be even more famous for his appearances on the British (and European) TV competitive series Superstars which at the time was watched by around 25 percent of the British population. Amongst the highlights were performing 100 parallel dips in 60 seconds and 118 squat thrusts in a similar timeline. Although Brian was most famous for his feats in the gymnasium, he was also dominant in weightlifting, canoeing and cycling. He was rarely placed lower than second but did not compete in Superstars after 1981.

Brian’s lifestory was written by longstanding friend Marc Gingel and the pair made a significant contribution to providing free food to Pattaya residents during the worst time of the covid crisis. Both of them have lived in Thailand for around 25 years. “Although Pattaya has changed,” says Brian, “I still enjoy the food, the ambiance, the climate and the friendships.” He says he has a fantastic wife Lek, an amazing son Philip and his wife Nam and a wonderful granddaughter Millie.

You wouldn’t expect Brian to have retired and you’d be right. He still manages a large Pattaya apartment block which he rents out to expats and visitors who have included snooker’s Jimmy White. Brian’s autobiography has a forward by British actor Brian Blessed who rightly comments that you would need a book as large as Shakespeare’s plays to cover his many-sided life. But, at heart, Brian is a traditional family man. He would have liked to have called his book, “I did it for my dad”, but wanted to make his mum proud as well.