BOXING: AFTER a fine career in boxing, Joey Singleton is putting something back into the noble art.
The former British light welter-weight champion spends much of his free time putting young boxers through their paces at Crewe ABC's Graystone Gym headquarters off Mirion Street.
It is a hard process with little funding or support staff, but he is convinced there are champions in the making in South Cheshire.
'It is hard work because I have a family to look after. I work as a postman in the mornings, do some door work in the evenings and in between I am usually down at the gym with my fellow trainer Lee Murray.
'We are both qualified ABA coaches and enjoy what we're doing. Some nights there are 30 lads down at the gym and the place is buzzing. That gives us great heart to keep going.
'The problem we have in Crewe is that there is no boxing heritage. The town I grew up in, Kirkby, is smaller than Crewe in size but has produced five world champions in the past 25 years.
'But there is plenty of talent in the area - you only have to come down to the gym to see that.'
At a recent show, Singleton had 14 fighters itching for a place on the card.
'That's tremendous as most clubs would struggle to find two or three for a show.
'We have some really good lads like Ian Clyde, Billy Bore-ham and such like. Lance Brooks is a tremendous prospect as is Owen Sterry.
'Owen boxed at a recent dinner show at Stockport County Football Club and one of the other trainers who was there rang me afterwards and told me what a tremendous prospect he is. He had seen him box a few months earlier and said he'd made a lot of progress. That kind of thing is music to my ears!
'Then there's Sean Done who won his first fight against a boxer who was a lot taller than him at 6ft 2ins, and the fight ended when the other lad's corner threw the towel in after 75 seconds.
'So there are some good lads here and I am very excited about the future.
'I had my first fight at four stone five pounds, so there's always room for development.'
Thanks to sponsorship from Newpark Motors, the club's gymnasium is well equipped and the boxers are always smartly turned out in their distinctive colours of black shorts with yellow trim.
Singleton comes from good boxing stock. His father and uncle were both respected fighters and his brothers Tommy and Eddie both boxed to a high standard with Tommy becoming a North of England champion.
But it was Joey who excelled. In addition to his British title, he wrote himself into the Guinness Book of Records for winning a Lonsdale belt in the fastest time and also fought for the European welterweight title. He was a schoolboy champion, junior champion and even won a pre-Olympic medal for Great Britain in Munich in 1971.
'They sent out a team to go and test the water in Germany and I was due to captain the England team in the 1972 games, but then I tore a cartilage in my leg.'
Even so, he bounced back and, after turning professional, went on to notch 31 wins and two draws in a 40-fight career.
Nowadays, Joey is happy to help talented youngsters gain as much enjoyment from the sport as he did.
'It is hard work and we don't get a lot of support locally. I'd love to put more shows on in the town but it's an expensive thing to do.
'I bumped into Frank Bruno, who is a good friend, a few weeks ago and he signed a pair of gloves for us to auction off, and Liverpool Football Club's assistant manager Phil Thompson, another mate of mine, sent me a signed shirt to raffle to raise funds.
'It's hard work and it's slow progress, but we'll get there.'
Crewe ABC train on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5pm to 7pm and on Sundays from 10am to noon. Joey would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in helping out in the gym on training nights.
'Any help would be welcome, even if it's just to help the lads out with some work on the pads,' he said.
For further details, contact Joey on 01270 650770.