In search of innovative ways of keeping fit, Try Sheffield decided to go to a local boxing gym, and find out more about the sport.
Sheffield Boxing Centre was set up in 1994 by a former boxer, Glyn ‘Showboat’ Rhodes. It has trained world title boxers such as Richie Wenton and Clinton Woods.
The gym is based in Burdon Street, Hillsborough; upon arriving, the first thing I noticed was how desolate the area was, save a few fast food joints. Not the place students would find themselves in.
Upstairs in a quiet looking building was the Gym, however despite being two hours before the class was due to start, the gym was full of life. It had a relaxed atmosphere, with people laughing and joking with each other by the entrance, and boxers training on various punching at the far end of the room.
The owner was ready to start talking immediately. Glyn Rhodes, MBE began his career in boxing at 16, just a kid “hanging around street corners, getting up to mischief”. At that age, he and a few friends stumbled into famous trainer, Brendan Ingles Gym.
Rhodes said he never walked into the gym thinking that he wanted to be a boxer: “It was just something to do, you know, like when you join boy scouts or boys brigade.”
From that point he stuck at the sport and it took him all over the country, won him a ‘great bunch of friends’, and when he got to a professional level, it took him all over the world.
“I’ve never looked back since”
Rhodes continued boxing for 17 years, up until the age of thirty three.
After hanging up his gloves and retiring he did not know what to do with himself. Having no academic qualifications would have made getting a normal job a huge struggle. Rhodes said: “plus I didn’t want a job, so it was natural progression to set up a boxing gym and start training fighters.”
Since then the gym has trained tons of boxers, including some who have made it to fight for the world title championship.
The gym is regularly used by boxers for training
Aside from training fighters Sheffield Boxing Centre has put on a series of charity events, including a campaign launched with The Star, Boxing against Bullying, and Help the Heroes, two weeks ago where the gym helped raise over £1,000.
This paved the way for Glyn Rhodes being awarded with a MBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to boxing. Rhodes said he was absolutely over the moon when he won it: “for somebody like me to actually receive an MBE is an unbelievable thing. I wasn’t the greatest boxer in the world. So to get to the age that I’m at now and to suddenly be awarded with an MBE, it makes it all worthwhile.”
The catch was, he was not allowed to tell anybody he had won the award, until it was officially released.
“It’s probably the hardest secret that I’ve ever had to keep”
Rhodes believes one of the most important things boxing is good for, is teaching people discipline, he said: “You know a lot of guys these days they don’t respect their teachers, they don’t respect police they don’t respect their parents. We always find that in the boxing club that kids come in and they respect their trainer, and that’s just the way it’s got to be.”
Unfortunately however I realise that there are still dangers to the sport, for example risks of brain damage etc. I asked Glyn more about that, he told me that although there are indeed dangers to boxing, the advantages of the sport heavily outweigh the disadvantages.
But not before telling of a tragedy he had faced in his time as a trainer, where his pupil Richie Wenton delivered a powerful blow to Bradley Stone, which later led to his death in 1994: “It was the first guy I ever trained” he said, “that’s the tragedy of boxing.”
He added that there are dangers in all walks of life, not just boxing.
“If you said to me do you know the dangers, I know them as much as anybody, but I would still recommend boxing to anyone.”
In his career as a boxer Rhodes has had the good fortune to meet some of the greatest names in boxing, including world champion boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, for an event at the Sheffield Wednesday football ground, and Jake La Motta (The Raging Bull), whose name is such legend a film was made after him. Rhodes said: “I’ve had so many great experiences I could not just name one.”
After hearing and everything I had heard about boxing, I had to try it.
One of the gym members, Rodrigo Gutierrez, who had been picked up by a trainer back in his high school in Cuba, and boxed for his university in Nicaragua, was kind enough teach me some of the basic techniques, and step in the ring for a quick spar.
I very quickly realised that mastering even the most basic technique was not simple, especially when it came to blocking and required a lot of patience. But if you have the patience, without expecting to be an expert as soon as you pick up a pair of gloves, boxing is definitely something you’d enjoy.