I HAVE decided this week to officially retire from boxing.

Although I haven’t competed in about three and a half years I’ve never really decided that I wasn’t going to fight again until now. I’m sure some would consider me already retired but for my own peace of mind I’m going to put it out there.

Boxing has been a major part of my life for the last 25 years, from when I first stepped into Malmesbury Amateur Boxing Club. My Dad took me there as a trick to get me to exercise my Erb’s Palsy-affected arm, as I hated the daily physiotherapy I had to do, and the rest, as they say, is history.

My Dad was certainly the person who had the biggest impact in my boxing career; my family were really supportive of me and it felt like they believed in me  despite what common sense would say. Whether or not they really did believe I could be successful or not at the time, I don’t know. But it felt like they did, and that’s what mattered.

I spent my whole amateur career boxing for Malmesbury ABC. The coaches there at the time, who put their time into me, were Tony Stannard MBE, Tony Falcone, Graham Hill and Steve Ford. The club wasn’t just about producing good boxers and winning titles, it was about shaping you to be a good person and teaching lessons you’d need to know for life. I did, however, manage to win a National Schoolboy title, the Junior ABA’s, two NACYP titles, a Four Nations gold medal, a Three Nations gold medal and the Senior ABAs, finishing with a record of 58 from 70 bouts.

As I did with my amateur career, I boxed out of one stable for my whole pro career: Paddy John’s Gym in Bristol. I was trained by my now father in-law Andy O’Kane, who also managed me for my whole career (apart from the first couple of years). We won an International Masters title, a Southern Area title, an IBO International title, two English titles and the EBU European title. I had some great support as well. They travelled across the country and Europe multiple times to watch me box, which I was always really grateful for.

On the surface of it I had a successful boxing career but I personally think I underachieved and that, due to many factors, I never really reached my full potential in the ring. I think I could have done so much more than I did. Many will think the opposite. They will say that, considering my disability, I actually overachieved in the sport, which is an understandable opinion. But it is also one I do not share.

Stopping is something lots of fighters struggle with, myself included. Boxing’s all I’ve really known for the majority of my life so to not be doing it is a strange feeling. I found it particularly difficult last year, but feel I’m on the better side of it now and in a good place to leave fighting in the past. Without boxing I wouldn’t have my wife and kids, who are the best and most important thing in my life, a lifestyle that means I can be present in my children’s lives, many friends I never would have met, a job I actually enjoy, and a platform to have a positive effect on people, especially those with Erb’s Palsy. I now teach boxing as a personal trainer and also coach for Paddy John’s ABC, so I’m still in the sport – just on the safer side of the ropes. I hope in the future I can look back on my career with the gratitude it deserves.