Part of history
by Neil Perkins
I have become very deep in thought about the direction of my life recently. I think with the acceptance of my official retirement from boxing, my physical condition reducing (although I am back on the comeback) fatherhood, a stressful few years with the launch of a business and approaching 40 I have thought about my ‘direction’ a lot more – Some would call it a mid-life crisis.
What would I describe myself as and more importantly what would others describe me. Well for those of you who know me would probably have one of the following three come to mind?
Lunatic, inappropriate or David Hayes sparring partner.
I am guilty of all those thoughts as it is my actions that have triggered these responses. In the last two years my cortisol levels reached new highs, but now my business is paying bills and out of the financial storm and I have had a little reflect before progressing on – I am entitled to that? This gasp of air after been submerged for two years allowed me to sit and take stock of my achievement’s and direction I am going. This reflection of where I have been, allows me to concentrate on where I am going and more importantly what I would like to do more of.
What do I do for a job? I am a business owner (Henrietta Street Gym), I am events organiser (Fighting Fit Events) and I am a boxing coach – all three are Neil Perkins and my passion runs through the veins of all three. Henrietta Street Gym had less of a direction that Fighting Fit City Gym did, and it ceased to become me, this is something I am rectifying and re-discovering. I understand the Javelin Block intervention for a cool space, but white towels handed out on reception and metal canteen water bottles to appeal to the influx of hipsters in the JQ should never have been my focus, yet unfortunately this was a direction I briefly moved towards. No matter how many tattoos you have on your hands, how much gin you sip or how much coffee you drink, a gym isn’t a place to look cool – it’s a place to work. This ethos is something that is back flowing through our veins and a culture I am going to nurture. I will focus on what I am good at, the fact that we are in a Javelin Block gym that looks the nuts will be a great benefit. I’m worried about getting our training on point, the rest will take care of itself.
This reflection has allowed me some time to think how I evolve my brands. I have the reality and not feeling morbid that one day I will leave this planet. I realise I am in a service industry and my goal is to positively affect as many people as I come into contact with, not to wow them with my reclaimed wood floor, lights form an Indian cargo ship or a recycled lift shaft – my job is to make them fitter, stronger, healthier and more confident than ever before.
The White Collar Boxing shows have always given me some of my fondest memories and I would like to think that of the 348 contest’s we’ve scheduled and the 400+ people who’ve completed this journey under our guidance have had a positive experience? Not just for the memorable night they have been a part of, but the self-challenge of the journey, the camaraderie of the fight camp and the ultimate sense of achievement. I would like to think that everyone who has completed this under our guidance rates it in the top 100 memories of their life.
I think that in continuing to run these events I will continue to be part of some epic nights (and I am not just talking about the after show party) where people can push themselves above and beyond their capability. These boxers aren’t boxing for world titles and there are so many memories I can take from the 35 shows we’ve run. These events will continue to enrich the Fighting Fit Events Brand, Henrietta Street Gym’s unique vibe and Neil Perkins boxing coaches achievements. I have never trained a boxer for a show that has disappointed me, some have under-performed, some didn’t follow instruction and yes some got beat – but I will share five of my favourite memories for cornering a boxer on a show.
Tim Hufton L v Dan Ricardo March’11 on Blood on the Canvas
After an impressive first victory I was happy to train Tim for a bout that many people in the gym thought he was out of his depth with? An expertly executed game plan saw him up at the end of the second round and protecting a lead. He listened to instruction to the letter and I think we were the only two people in the venue who thought he was capable of outboxing Ricardo? Tim had suffered in the build up with a virus and lack of energy ultimately led to his undoing as he couldn’t hold on to his lead in an enthralling last minute of a contest which saw Ricardo turn the tables and go gung ho. Ricardo can box and fight a bit – he also makes a pretty good website.
Julia Sturgess W v Julie Haycock November’13 on Ring Kings
The first lady of Fighting Fit and it was Julie v Julia in our first all-female bout. The actuary was calculated in her approach and ‘Tigger’ Julie Haycock with her BJJ background was the more natural fighter. Julia, like many of my clients wasn’t given an option about boxing – she was told she was doing it. I anticipated a high guard coming at her and not only did Julia adjust her feet well to marauding attacks, the body work was a master stroke that accrued points for a great victory.
Matt Davies W v Ben Mortimer December ’14 on High Voltage
I had the pleasure of preparing Stave Con’s MD ‘The War Horse’ for his rubber match with Mortimer. I didn’t feel a technical approach would work and instead opted to go blow for blow with Mortimer and out hustle the younger man. I was convinced that his opponent would tire and re-enforced the anticipation throughout fight camp. Going into the last round a point down didn’t concern me – I knew this is when his opponent would fade in a high paced contest – a high pace that we’d forced. When it comes to attrition and the desire to win – no one beats the war horse, we just had to bring his opponent down to that style of boxing.
Jenny Thompson W v Natalie Jonson March’17 on Broad Street Brawl
The most educated debut I have seen from any combat athlete – amateur or pro. As a writer on BBC radio 4’s The Archers, Jenny wasn’t your average pugilist. As a coach/ boxer relationship she never questioned instruction or reason, occasionally she moaned that something was ‘dumb’. On fight week, she had a focus that I have never seen from a novice boxer and on fight night warming her up I genuinely felt sorry for her opponent. I’ve seen this before, but also seen it fail when the bell goes. A ram-rod jab was prevalent throughout her contest as she controlled the contest off an educated lead hand.
Richard ‘The Badger’ Willets L v Brindley March’17 on Broad Street Brawl
Giving away 20 years is a big ask for anyone! This task is even harder when your opponent captained the rugby team and has a steely intensity. The battleplan was drawn up and the objective was to step right away from the right hand and drive his opponent backwards. On the opening bell Brindley pushed Badger back with the jab and volleyed concussive shots of his jaw. You can talk about white collar boxing with big ‘over-size’ gloves been safe – but this was venomous and brutal. The onslaught didn’t stop there, I had the towel in my hand throughout and contemplated throwing it in to stop the contest. I did genuinely see something that gave me hope and a bit of kidology in the corner between rounds seemed to resonate ‘You’ve got him Rich, he has punched himself out. Step right and drive him back’ The second round was a much slower pace and towards the end Badger had started to execute the game plan and Brindley was slowing. Eight points down going into the last and it was something that only certain boxers respond to – the headbut onto the headguard and lots of obscenities – Badger came out like a man possessed. Brindley to his credit resisted folding with the turn of momentum and fired back when he needed to neutralise the scoring attacks and ran for the large part of the last session to win by one point before collapsing at the final bell.