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PADWORK: The regular column from Swindon boxing coach Paddy Fitzpatrick
5:26pm Sunday 10th March 2013 in Sport
FROM SEED TO GREAT OAK
On March 15, a young amateur super heavyweight steps into the ring as the main attraction on my St Patrick's weekend show called “The Fighting Irish”.
He will fight for The George Cook Memorial Trophy, in honour of a man he never had the chance to meet but was part of every boxing gym in Swindon while he was alive.
Such a fight is a big weight for a relatively inexperienced boxer to carry on his young shoulders but his six-foot, three-inch, 226lb frame should help him carry that burden.
However, being blessed with strong physical attributes alone, means very little inside the boxing ring - especially if you desire to be the best in the world.
That’s where this young boxer stands out for me.
Four years ago this cocky 19-year-old came bouncing through my doors.
Since then he has shown a constant desire in absolutely every way possible.
Last year he was forced to take six months out of the sport because of a knee injury.
That setback is now behind him but during that time out he grew very frustrated with life.
The depression was gradual but eventually it set in and took over.
I remember being stood in the gym with him as I ran a class.
We talked in between me shouting out my instructions to the class, but every time I looked back at him, he looked lost.
He would gaze enviously at everyone training and the pain and frustration on his face just vibrated off him.
I told him that day not to worry. I felt it was a positive thing for him to be going through.
At some stage in every boxer’s career they will hit some sort of road block and something will stall them or get in their way.
I watch, listened and studied him for four years and already I had decided that he possessed everything required to be the best – a world champion that would be remembered.
But I needed him to know he could never take anything for granted.
At this point in time he has passed all his tests to date.
He suffered a broken nose during the second round of sparring yet still did another two after it happened.
He didn’t continue because he wanted to but because he believed in what he was being taught.
Even if it made no sense at the time, he was willing to believe it would later.
I stood in the corner with Darren Woodwards down in Wales and watched this young man lose the first round and then get beaten up in the second.
He calmly took on our instructions and went out and totally dominated his foe in the third.
I have been blessed to work with a lot of talented fighters at all different weights but the “big men” are a different breed to the rest.
Heavyweight boxers reach the public’s attention far quicker than their lighter counterparts.
I have worked with three heavyweights who have held world titles in their careers and three top 10 ranked heavyweights.
There is nothing physically that this young man can’t do that they could and what excites me more about him is that he has shown no limits to his mental strength.
I remember that night in the gym he looked so heavy headed. I told him I was kind of glad he had the enforced lay off.
I told him it was a good chance to learn how important it is to stay patient.
It’s too easy to take things for granted in life and in boxing.
When things are going well nobody thinks about the “what ifs” that can come along when least expected.
It’s far too easy to lose your way when you taste success and think you are above all others.
I also told him that by January or February this year he would gain the attention of people in the boxing world, which he has, and 12 months later his life would change forever.
I understand what is needed to become a heavyweight world champion because I have been blessed with opportunities to work with fighters who have achieved it.
I also know that he has everything that they have, and won't be content until he has become heavyweight champion of the world.
On a personal note, I have always thought that the mark of a good coach is someone who could take a fighter from seed the whole way.
I believe Luke Watkins will not only become a world champion, but grow into a great oak.
Come out on St Patrick’s weekend and watch him in action.
*Paddy Fitzpatrick’s Fighting Irish boxing show takes place on Friday, March 15 at Swindon Oasis Leisure Centre. For ticket information visit www.fitzpatricksboxinggym.com or call 07917104000