Former World Middleweight champion sets his goals high and his road to helping his local community, long and smooth.
The Coleshill Post popped in to visit the Shard End boy who came good. We found out what the Former World champion is doing now he has given up fighting in the ring.
Q: Wayne most fighters tend to leave the fight game and go into the dinner show, party events, yet you have stayed very close to ground level boxing. How’s it working for you and what’s your plan with the Box-Clever classes.
For me as a fighter and now today as a coach, it’s always been about able to give back the sport I love, which has always gave me the biggest buzz, so been able to share and inspire the young people by coaching the sport at grass roots was something I believe I was always going to do once I had made the decision to finally retire from the sport and Box Clever is not just about making champions in the sport, but for me it’s about building champions in life, which is what I believe boxing done for me, as it helped improve so many other areas in my often troubled youth and made me want to be the best at absolutely everything I did giving me a winners mentality.
Thankfully I made the right decision as Box Clever is working well and has grown from strength to strength since I created it back in 2010 and with new classes starting on a regular basis, my plan is to keep on trying to expand as we have been doing into every Midlands area.
Q: What made you stay close to the area and start these classes up?
I came back home to coach, as I believed that the area, which to be fair had enjoyed good club success, but over the years had seen many of these clubs unfortunately having to close for one reason or the other and therefore felt there was a big gap which had been left with many potential champions being forced to travel further afield and box out of different areas.So it was a no brainer to at least try and give the kids the opportunity to box from a gym that was on their doorstep and also encourage even more local kids to do the same, and some who may not have had the opportunity or funds to travel to at least give the sport a go.
Q: How’s it working out for you?
Better than I could have imagined the classes our booming and now as an affiliated amateur boxing club in our first full competitive season we have already got our first national ABA champion a local 14 year old lad from Chelmsley Wood Brandon Jones, which has been a massive boost to all the squad as we prepare for the new season.
Q: When you see some of your lot training do you get home sick for the ring or have you passed that stage?
I guess like any top level fighter the urge to lace them up again never leaves you and especially as many belived I hung them up to early, but my job today is to become the best coach I possibly can be, as been the number one boxer in the country I have already done, but been the number one coach is a new and exciting challenge and one which keeps my feet firmly on the other side of the ropes.
Q: How did you get into boxing and why?
Probably my shortest answer ha ha I got inot through a friend who boxed at a local club and invited me to train and why well I honestly have always loved fighting for as long as I can remember.
Q: In the pro game, what was the
highlight of your career?
Winning my first ever title against the odds the WBU World title in Manchester against the local champion Anthony Farnell, what a night that was chief support to Ricky Hatton in a sold out MEN arena in front of 500 travelling brummies and also beating the reigning British and Commonwealth champion and British legend Howard Eastman and in doing so becoming the first British fighter to ever beat him in over 12 years.
Q: In hind-sight what would you change now if you could?
I would have changed my managers, as the sport is hard enough without the right guidance, which I believe I never truly had until I teamed up with one of the best trainers/managers to ever come out of the sport and Birmingham Paddy Lynch.
Q: You are one of a rare number who can claim to be a World Champion Boxer from the Midlands, do you still love getting your belts down and showing them off?
Without a doubt I love to show of my belts I worked extremely hard in my career to earn them and take great pride showing the kids what can be achieved with discipline and hard work the solid foundations I built Box Clever on.
Q: With you reaching the top level of Boxing, have you ever considered using your knowledge of the sport and making the move onto the BBBof Control?
When the time arrives yes that is a natural progression for me to want to take, but it will be once I have earned the right and proved my coaching ability, by taking many kids from nothing to become an amateur champ and I would like to then try and make sure the work put in as an amateur is not wasted and is transferred over smoothly into the paid ranks.
Q: Who do you follow now that you think is very good. British and aboard?
I still follow many on the British scene to many to mention standing out I guess the likes of Kell Brook and Brums own Frankie Gavin and Kal Yafai I believe all have the potential to go further than the domestic level and on the world scene my favourite fighter is Gennady Golovkin seems to have all the attributes that I try and instil in to my own fighters.
Q: Where do you want to see your classes go in the next 5 years?
I have already surpassed my goals, which was to get boxing and all its positive benefits back into many schools after it was abolished back in the 60’s and today we have run classes at 47 different schools in total across the Midlands region and we’re still taking more on, so I only want to continue to improve what we do and gain more schools, boxers and fans for the sport.
Q: Finally Wayne tell us about your gym sessions and what you have going on there?
It may sound strange to some, as we’re talking boxing, but first and foremost I would say education was paramount, so make sure to put the hard work in at school/college and come away with some good exam results for during dealing with contracts and after in retirement, so they will always have the opportunity to do whatever they wish to do in life and secondly you have to put the work in everyday in the gym, do your roadwork away from it and eat healthy and always listen to your coach and especially if that happens to be me ha ha.In the build-up to the first defence of his light-welterweight Midland title defence, Calum Cooper promised that him and unbeaten challenger and fellow Brummie Marcus Ffrench, would ‘blow the roof’ off the Holte Suite at Aston Villa’s football ground.
While the roof was not quite physically blown off, the whole stadium seemed to shudder and shake at times as the pair waged war on the latest Tommy Owens show.
The pair had met before in the amateurs and sparred many rounds since. When they met that Sunday afternoon back in 2010, they put on an amateur classic.Here in front of a full house, they put on a professional classic.
Both came out behind southpaw stances in the first round, but it was Ffrench who struck first with a right uppercut to the body followed by a right hook to Cooper’s head. Ffrench (10st) was razor-sharp as he would zip in using head movement, land his heavy artillery before using his footwork to remove himself from the firing line.Cooper (9st 13 ¼ lbs) was slower to start, but towards the end of the round was finding a home for his southpaw lefts.
Ffrench’s success continued into the second as his attacks began to knock Cooper’s head-back and the champion emerged from a clinch with a blood-splattered nose. Cooper began to go through the gears in the third and his work-rate he is known for began to show itself, yet his defence was still getting caught out by Ffrench’s hooks and combinations, but coach Gary Blower was pleased and as Calum sat down at the end of the third, Blower told him “he’s tiring now!”
Ffrench, who had not previously been past four rounds was not boxing as though he was concerned with conserving energy – but began showing a few signs of tiredness in the fourth. Cooper meanwhile was now sliding into full swing as he began letting both hands go and seemed to be particularly targeting Ffrench’s body and seemed to steady the challenger with a shot at the bell.
Ffrench was going for little walks in the fifth but wasn’t letting himself get needlessly outworked by Cooper and was a constant danger with his hooks and uppercuts. It began to seriously heat up in the sixth as both were having their successes – it was the big punching of Ffrench against the work-rate of Cooper – and both weren’t willing to relinquish their individual advantages.
The seventh followed the same pattern, it was coming down to whose work you preferred – until Cooper exploded in the last twenty seconds and would simply not stop throwing punches. Ffrench was trying to move his head but the champion is like a whirlwind when he gets going and both of his fists were blurring.
“Calum, that was bloody brilliant!” beamed Blower as Cooper returned to his stool.
The momentum seemed to have completely shifted in the eighth as Cooper seemed to have taken complete control with his work-rate and Ffrench’s work rate was beginning to drop – a fact highlighted afterwards after he had torn a bicep.
However, there were ghosts of the first fight in the ninth when Cooper walked straight onto an absolute thunderous left hand. When the pair had met in the amateurs, Cooper had to survive a last-round onslaught and withstand a standing eight-count to walk out a points winner and he must have begun to suffer flash-backs. Cooper was out on his feet, and Ffrench was swinging viciously away – a feat in itself considering his injury and several times looked as though he was going to produce a sickening blow to finish it.
I’m not sure how many people picked it up, but I’d like to point out that during one particular savage attack from Ffrench, Cooper’s gumshield nearly fell out. He was badly hurt and looked like he had nothing left. I fully expected him to spit it out and buy himself more time, yet he merely reached his glove up shoved it back in and prepared himself for the next wave of violence.
Referee Rob Chalmers looked like stepping in and ending it several times , but Cooper would always blindly start trying to slug his way back. Lady luck smiled briefly at the exhausted champion as some tape come lose on Ffrench’s glove and Rob Chalmers led him back to his corner where Paul “Soggy” Counihan and Neil Hateley tried to rapidly fix the problem. Ffrench came back out throwing bombs but could just not find the finishing shot to put the champion away.
Both came out for the last looking tired and both sets of fans were in absolute uproar as Ffrench tried to apply a a strong finish and Cooper tried to see off the exchanges and finish on his feet.
The crowd applauded frenzily to the finish and it was refreshing to see the two, who are good friends outside the ring – embrace.
Nobody deserved to lose on this night, but referee Rob Chalmers ruled Cooper a 96-94 victor in an incredible defence. When having the belt strapped back round his waist he looked on the verge of collapse.
The crowd were clamouring for a rematch afterwards, but Jon Pegg was quick to dismiss this idea.
“I manage both, and there’s no way I’m putting them back in with each other!”
Cooper improves to 8-3 while Ffrench suffers his first defeat at 6-1.
Nuneaton’s Sullivan Mason opened the show and stretched his unbeaten record to 10 with an impressive 39-36 decision over Tamworth centurion Matt Seawright. Mason (10st 9lb) neglected his jab a little early on but his right hand was finding the target instantly – shaking Seawright (10st 5 ¼ lb) repeatedly before a cracker dropped him before the bell.
Seawright was up but was dropped again in the second although he complained that this time it was a slip. Referee Kev Parker ruled it a knockdown though and had to administer a word of warning after the action began to get untidy.
Seawright began to find his feet in the latter half of the contest and was happier to let his hands go – but ultimately all of the quality came from the younger Mason who is now considering a future at welter instead of light-middle. Seawright dips to 5-94-5.
Mr Parker was also in charge when Birmingham prospect Karl Wiggins stretched his record to 3-0 with a 40-36 decision over Bulgarian Danny Donchev. It was a nice little run-out for Wiggins (10st 10lb) who displayed a lovely shot selection from both fist as both a southpaw and orthodox, and also had to deal with a cut over his right eye. Donchev (10st 10lb) brought his usual style of boxing behind a crouch before unleashing the odd hook but ultimately had to consistently settle with being second best and was left with a nasty looking gash on his scalp in the third while emerging with a 5-68-1 resume.
Mr Parker also oversaw Daniel Breeze and Sam Eggington record fairly straight-forward wins against Matthew Ashmole and Lewis Van Poetsch respectively.
Debutant Breeze (11st 5lb), a former England International brought a lot of support and seemed to enjoy every moment of his debut. Looking nice and relaxed with his hands held low – he would whip shots in with both hands to head and body.He looked very cavalier at times, standing in front of Ashmole (11st 5lb) and letting his hands go with reckless abandon.Breeze got on his toes more in the last and was ‘Ali-shuffling’ his way to a 40-36 victory much to the delight of his fans. Ashmole is now winless in 19.
Eggington (10st 11 ¼ lb) has been viewed as a prospect for some time now – especially since Matchroom have begun sniffing around him, but the Warley prospect is showing serious promise. Opponent Van Poetsch (or Poochi to his fans and 10st 13 ¼ lb) brought an unintimidating looking record of 3-12 but it was the manner in which Eggington disposed of him which was most impressive.
Right from the off there was spite in “Savage” Sam’s work and he was putting his work together nicely – not relying on single shots. It wasn’t long into the second when a big right dropped Van Poetsh in the corner, but the Gloucestershire lad bravely made his way upto his feet – it wasn’t long after however after a follow up attack before Mr Parker had seen enough and waved it off. Eggington improves to 11-2 with both losses coming via controversial points defeats in PrizeFighter.
Chris Truman and Andy “D’Animal” Robinson both kept up their momentum with victories over Carl Allen and Harry Matthews, with both bouts being overseen by Rob Chalmers.
Truman (10st 6lb) was very controlled and disciplined, boxing nicely behind his jab and using his nimble footwork to quickly negotiate himself out of any danger with a record now reading 11-4-2. Allen (10st 10lb) saw out the contest without too much bother until the last when he was boxing with a nasty looking mouse under his left eye. Truman won every round and now may perhaps get a shot at Calum Cooper. Allen drops to 19-114-7.
Robinson (12st 6 ½ lb) and Matthews (12st 4lb) got straight down to business in their four-rounder and began exchanging leather from the off, but right from the start it was noticeable that Robinson was getting the better of every exchange. Robinson is never hard to find though and it wasn’t too long before Matthews was finding successes of his own. Throughout the contest the classier work was continually coming from Robinson and he was a deserved 40-37 winner.
Robinson stretches his unbeaten record to 11-0 while Matthews is now 12-16-2.
Tommy Owens Promotions are gathering real steam and interest – and are gaining a reputation for the cracking headliners which they are serving up, and seem to be getting better and better.The team are out again here in September, and it will be a hard task for Tom, Jon Pegg and their ever-increasing and impressive stable to top what they did here on this night.