Boxing has always fascinated me. I remember watching Ali get mauled by Spinks at my Nans house when I was a kid and thinking that it was the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. I first put a pair of gloves on in 1980 when I was 12 at Pool Farm Boys Club, well they were more like stinking wet leather sponges from memory but the smell was something I would never forget. Sparring in the corridors was as good as it got, the older 'contenders' dominated the ring which was a small corner with one rope wrapped around a post in a tiny sports hall. Me and my pals at the time would watch in awe and study the older lads skills, take the lessons home with us and spend hours in the bedroom shadow boxing wearing football socks as gloves imagining being in world title fights. I would always commentate at the same time to add the drama, just quiet enough so that my parents and sister wouldn't hear me making an idiot of myself!
From that point onwards I was hooked, watching whatever boxing that we were lucky enough to see on TV, me and my Dad would shout and scream much to my Mums disgust. I'm sure I'm not the only person to admit this but the Rocky films were a massive influence on me and I still get motivated today when I hear the famous soundtrack music!
When Frank Bruno hit the scene I was mesmerised, my bedroom walls where plastered in impressive photos or big Franks physique, fight clippings, just about anything that was in the paper about Frank Bruno I had on my wall. I listened to the first Bruno v Tyson fight in my parents kitchen on Radio 5 and woke the whole street! I loved that guy and when he eventually won the world title he had so badly dreamed of I remember crying in a bar with close friends in Tenerife. Truly amazing!
My favourite fight... Hagler v Hearns. I didn't see it live but when I did see it it stuck with me. Brutal battle, total admiration for both boxers, I must have watched that fight over 100 times! I saw an interview recently with Manny Stewart (RIP) who said that Hearns had received a massage from a friend in the dressing room which he intercepted furiously and he thinks this is the reason that Hearns legs were shot in the fight and he shouldn't have let it go ahead... Interesting story!
By 1992 I had let the joys of junk food get the better of me and soared to 18st in weight. I had to do something and I used to drive past a boxing gym every Thursday when I dropped my girlfriend off to work. I would look through the window and remember the smells and sounds from when I was a kid. Eventually I dragged myself through the front door of the Rover Boxing Gymnasium and started again from scratch. It all felt really awkward and I was so out of shape I didn't enjoy most of it but it was just being in the gym that I loved, part of a lovely bunch of lads, a really great team! I also made myself a gym in my parents garage so that I could train at home on non gym days and had my first fight at 12st 8lbs against a lad by the name of Delville Alexander from Castle Vale. I remember everything about it, it was the best moment of my life, my family & friends screaming and jeering me on, the first punches being landed, my trainers words of wisdom during the 3 x 2min rounds, the taste of blood, the ringing in my ears, my legs feeling like jelly and my arms burning from punching! When the final bell rang the most amazing thing was the instant switch from wanting to knock Mr Alexander out to just wanting to hug, congratulate and thank him... very funny. I won the fight and felt like a hero as I stepped out of the ring to be greeted by my friends and family as the champion for the night! I also got the fight mentioned in the amateur section of Boxing News which would have been a bonus if the fight promoter Mickey Cougan (RIP) hadn't spelt my name wrong... Cy Foster!
I only managed to have 1 more fight, another tough battle, the same travelling fan base, this time at 12st against another tough lad. I had basically starved myself to get to 12st and my legs had literally nothing in them. I actually don't remember as much from this fight other than being flung around like a rag doll in the first round and in the break saying to my trainer Mick Redmond 'my legs are f**ked'! In the last round I remember landing 3 really solid jabs flush in the face of my opponent. They must have caught the judges eyes, I somehow managed to get to the end of the fight and won, much to my amazement. I thought I'd boxed dreadful!
I now knew that I needed much better fitness and more stamina, my skills were OK and I was tall for the 12st weight at 6'2" so I set about getting fitter than ever. Training harder than I have ever in my life (still listening to the Rocky theme tune) I got my self into the sort of shape I wished I could have kept forever. Then a few things happened that I wasn't expecting, I injured my elbow sparring, I had 4 no show tournaments which really frustrated me and I got really busy with my career as an illustrator... so there it ends! I was 2, 0 and 0, possibly the most unimpressive ring career ever but I loved every minute of it. Boxing is in my opinion the most pure of all of the contact sports, it's the cleanest and that's what I really love about it.