Yorkshire: Breading Boxers

By Jack Davis

Boxing is in the media an awful lot recently as questions about the safety of the sport are being asked. This comes after the recent death of Scott Westgarth who tragically passed away on the 25th February 2018 at the age of 31. He sustained injuries following a 10-round light heavyweight bout during a Saturday night clash with Dec Spellman in Doncaster. Despite this boxing is still a hugely popular sport in the UK and particularly in Yorkshire.

Yorkshire has most certainly produced some of the best and most exciting boxers in recent years. In the 90’s Prince Naseem revolutionised the way of boxing with his exciting style and confident persona in and out of the ring. Boxers such as Prince Naseem were watched by kids growing up such as Sheffield’s Kell Brook who has always said that boxers like Prince Naseem and Johnny Nelson were his idols. Brook has been the poster boy from Yorkshire, recently wining the vacant WBC Silver super-middleweight title at the FlyDSA Arena in his hometown of Sheffield, knocking out his opponent Sergey Rabchenko in the 2nd round. Sheffield has some of the best boxing gyms and some of the UK’s best boxers use these gyms when training such as Anthony Joshua, Kell Brook and Billy Joe Saunders.

Boxing participation in Yorkshire has significantly risen in the last year and the increase in numbers looks set to continue. It’s the increased participation within young people that is creating the new up and coming boxers. From Leeds 18-year-old Hope Price has set his sights on qualifying for this year’s youth games after his recent victory over Louis Small. In the long term, Price is focused on the Olympic Games with the teen seeing no reason why he cannot step out at the Tokyo 2020 Games. Before Price can challenge for a spot at the Olympics, he must conquer this year’s Youth Olympics, firstly however he has the European’s. Price said, “The Europeans take place in April in Italy and I feel I need to do well here”. If Price can perform well in these championships looking to the future he could turn professional and start boxing on the world stage competing for titles.

I spoke to Elliot Black a university student from Leeds who boxes and he said “It doesn’t surprise me that boxing participation in Yorkshire keeps rising, it really is a fantastic sport. Not only is it a great way to keep fit but training in a boxing gym teaches you more than just the sport of boxing, it develops you as a person and teaches you morals and respect. I started boxing about four years ago and it came at the right time as in my spare time I was hanging about with the wrong people. My dad took me along to a boxing gym and I loved it straight away and it has kept me busy and out of mischief since”. Despite the obvious dangers involved in boxing, in places such as Leeds, Sheffield and Barnsley if young people are in the boxing gym and training it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.

The Dominic Ingle gym in Sheffield has produced many champions over the years including Johny Nelson and Naseem Hamed and in more recent years Billy Joe Saunders and Kell Brook. Having produced so many world champions from a variety of different weight classes it really does make the Ingle Gym one of the most successful in the country. A fantastic example of the training ability of Dominic Ingle is with Billy Joe Saunders. When Billy Joe came to Ingle he was fat and feckless and in a matter of weeks Ingle turned him into an ultra-fit and focused athlete. With Billy Joe motivation has always been a problem for him and yet since he’s been with Ingle he has never been so driven and wants to fight the world’s best including Gennady Golovkin. The result of all the hard work was seen when Billy Joe defended his WBO middleweight title against Canadian Daniel Lemieux in Canada. Saunders was punch perfect throughout and completely outclassed Lemieux who barely landed a glove on Saunders all fight. Since this victory, he has been calling out some big names such as Golovkin who is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Billy Joe and his trainer Ingle obviously have some serious belief in his abilities.

Over the past 30 years Yorkshire and in particular Sheffield has produced some of Britain’s best boxers from a range of weight divisions. Billy Joe and Kell Brook are still fighting and have some big bouts coming up in the near future. Up and coming boxers such as Hope Price make the future of Yorkshires boxing look promising also and with a gym such as the Dominic Ingle Gym producing world class boxers time and time again I think the future of Yorkshire’s boxing looks very promising.

 

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