At the age of 11, Alan Bosworth received a headbutt from his uncle for inviting a black friend into their home. Sick and tired of his family, that Bosworth describes as ‘p***heads and troublemakers’, he became a fighter. His life didn’t get any less compl
The teak-tough Alan Bosworth is a man who did things his own way in boxing
ALAN BOSWORTH did boxing his way. He trained himself in his back garden, travelled to fights on his own and had it been possible, would have treated his own cuts. “Definitely,” he laughed. He could have written this…
During his career, Bosworth penned an always-readable boxing column in his local newspaper, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, and when he gave up the job, he asked his successor to describe him as a “battle-hardened warrior.” It fitted.
Everything Bosworth achieved, and he achieved as much as any Northampton fighter, he achieved the hard way. In most of his 38 fights, he was matched to lose. “I didn’t have a trainer, promoter or even a manager for most of my career,” said Bosworth, now 46 years old. “I did it all on heart and determination.” What he did was, against even his own expectations, fight his way from the right-hand side of the bill to a British title challenge.
“I did it completely on my own,” said Bosworth. “I had a punchbag hanging up in the back garden and I used to do situps and press-ups in the living room while my missus was at work.
“I still competed with the big names and when I look back on my career I think: ‘How the f**k did I do that?’” The battles that hardened him started long before he turned professional at 27, after an unremarkable amateur career, with the modest ambition of “earning a few quid and maybe winning a Midlands title…” “P***heads and troublemakers,” is how Bosworth describes his family. “My dad and brother spent years inside for armed robbery and my uncle was murdered. I remember coming home from school one day and my uncle headbutted me because I had brought a black friend back to the house. I was about 11 years old.” Both brothers were behind bars and neither of his parents were there when, in March 2002, Bosworth became the first Northamptonian for 62 years to challenge for British honours in their hometown. Against Junior Witter, there was a painful end to Bosworth’s dogged pursuit of the 140lb Lonsdale Belt in front of a sold-out Derngate Theatre. “I wanted to take Junior into rounds eight, nine, 10,” he said, “but he was too smart. “The shots were coming from everywhere. It was like being mugged by a gang in an alleyway. Junior liked attacking fighters and I was an attacking fighter.
“Ricky Hatton avoided him. Definitely. He would have sorted Hatton out the way he sorted me out. He pulverised me.”
Bosworth feels he should have had another shot at ➤
I DIDN’T HAVE A TRAINER, PROMOTER OR EVEN A MANAGER FOR MOST OF MY CAREER. I DID IT COMPLETELY ON MY OWN”
the British title. He says there was a verbal agreement to fight Oscar Hall once Witter moved on that came to nothing and, on another occasion, the Board rejected him as a challenger for Lenny Daws after Barry Morrison pulled out.
“The Board didn’t want me as British champion,” he observed, bitterly. “I had no manager, no trainer and was a part-time lorry driver. How can you have someone like that winning a British title? Nobody wanted that. It would have made them look bad.” Bosworth’s reminisces are laced with bitterness. “The best people I met in that game were the boxers,” he spat, “and the only person I ever met who didn’t want anything off me was [Peterborough manager and trainer] Ian Pauly.
“It’s a shame he didn’t live a bit closer and I didn’t meet him earlier in my career. “Nobody else ever cared about me. “Good for Chris Eubank. He should be involved in his son’s career. He knows what the game is all about and doesn’t want to see him get ripped off. He wants the best for his son – and he knows that promoters don’t. They just want the money, money, money...“That was also Bosworth’s motivation. “My family were trouble,” he said, “and I wasn’t brought up to work.
“I never had a trade and I needed money. I had a crap job, two kids and a mortgage.
“I fought Jason Blanche early in my career because the washing machine had blown up and I didn’t have the money to buy a new one.
“I was potless. I could earn more in one fight than I could for working for a month, and that’s all I was bothered about.
“I would get a phone call saying: ‘Do you want to fight him?’ I would say: ‘Where and when?’ and a couple of days later I would be jumping on a train or driving in my car to the fight.
“I got into a bubble where, if the money was right, I would fight anyone.”
That was the way Bosworth was from the start of his professional career, in 1995.
He fought three times in the space of 30 days at the start, and each time the home crowd left disappointed.
“They were learning fights,” he said, “but not for me, for my opponents.
“For me, they were survival fights – but I kept winning them and before you knew it, I was in the top 10. “I stayed there for the rest of my career.” Bosworth was a domestic contender at three weights. At lightweight, he lost an eliminator to Wayne Rigby – “I wasn’t ready and I was never a lightweight,” he said – Witter walloped him for the British super-lightweight title, and Bosworth was well placed up at 147lbs after a
I FOUGHT JASON BLANCHE BECAUSE THE WASHING MACHINE HAD BLOWN UP AND I DIDN’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY A NEW ONE”
disqualification win over Matthew Hatton.
The hoped-for fight with Ricky Hatton didn’t materialise – “The money wasn’t right” – and Bosworth instead went to Europe for pay days against quality operators George Scott – “I thought I beat him” – Jan Bergman – “There was definitely something in his gloves” – and Allan Vester – “What chance did I have? His dad was the promoter.”
Closer to home, he battled Colin Dunne when weight drained, lost a fight to Paul Burke that Boxing
News scored a draw, and twice fought Eamonn Magee. Of the wins on his 20-16-2 record, Bosworth says the best was his gruelling points victory over Stephen Smith for the vacant English 140lb title in December 2003, but his highest-profile fight was against Shea Neary.
“The Shamrock Express” slugged with Bosworth, and almost came unstuck.
“Out of all the fights I had, Neary was the only one I feared,” admitted Bosworth. “The thought of fighting him made me nervous.
“Everyone thought I was going to get slaughtered.
“But we went toe to toe for 10 rounds and he was gone in the seventh. I had him. But I rushed in, got a bit wild and missed him.
“The commentators didn’t give me any credit. They were saying: ‘What’s wrong with Neary? Has he struggled to make the weight? Is he up for the fight?’ “His f ***** g problem was me! “To them, he was the star and I was just a lorry driver. They didn’t know what I was made of.”
Boxing News gave Bosworth credit, finding a place for the Neary fight in its list of the top 10 domestic scraps in 2000, and he had many other bouts worthy of similar recognition.
There was a battle with Oscar Hall – “There was so much blood from my broken nose I could just see this figure moving around that I tried to hit” – and when he fought Gavin Down in front of the BBC cameras, they swung hard punches at each other until Bosworth had the final say with a fifth-round right hand.
The end came after a seven-round loss to Ashley Theophane in January 2007, but his sense of fair play has stayed with Bosworth and earlier this year, he made national headlines after successfully suing Northampton Borough Council for wrongful dismissal.
“They told 360 staff they wanted us to do extra hours for no extra money,” he said. “Everyone agreed to it – apart from me. I was the only one who had the b ****** s to stand up for my rights, and they sacked me for it. I didn’t have the money to take them to court, but I found out that if you have a home insurance, you can get legal cover, and it covers employment disputes.
“They fought me all the way and for two years I was under so much stress. But I still had the fight in me, and I won. That was my greatest victory.”
I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO HAD THE B ****** S TO STAND UP FOR MY RIGHTS, AND THEY SACKED ME FOR IT”
AGGRESSION: Bosworth attacks Witter during their British title clash in 2002
WARRIOR: Bosworth always gave his all inside the ring
GOING AT IT: Bosworth scraps with two-time opponent Magee [top], and gets the better of Smith during the best win of his career [above]