A true sporting champ
Britain’s worst boxer hangs up his gloves
Robin Deakin – ‘Britain’s worst boxer’ – hung up his gloves this week after a 12-year, 55-fight career, 53 of them losses. “I was the Eddie The Eagle of British boxing, but I fought British champions, a world champion, and that’s not too bad for a kid who was born with a disability in both feet who couldn’t walk until he was six,” the 31-year-old told The Sunday Telegraph yesterday.
Deakin left school at 14 to learn his trade as a butcher, a job he will now go into full time with Butcher & Edmonds in Kennington, London.
His story is astonishing, and one he hopes to one day go on to Big Brother to tell. “I was born with club feet – both feet – the left foot is worse. I had so many operations I was rarely in school because I was in and out of hospital as a kid,” he explained. “I always wanted to be known, to be respected.”
He reckons he had more than 20 operations and surgeries, so many that he lost count.
‘Rockin’ Robin Deakin’s boxing career got off to a decent start when he won his 2006 debut against Shaun Walton at the York Hall, Bethnal Green. But then he lost 50 fights in a row, over ten years.
“I only took up boxing to build my confidence because I was bullied as a kid because of my disability, and to strengthen my legs. I wasn’t a bad amateur either.
“I had 76 fights, and I won 40 of them, getting to the semi-finals of the ABAs. The disability did hold me back, but even in the pro game I might have had all those losses, but I always gave as good as I got.
“I’m a lot better than my record says. I boxed the best in Britain, and I troubled a lot of decent fighters. I can whack, and I put a few fighters on their a***s. I fought Anthony Crolla, who went on to become a world champion. The truth is journeymen are expected to lose. We are put in there to fight the up-and-coming guys, to give them experience, and we are not given the respect we deserve.”
Deakin never really had a proper training camp apart from his second victory, which he had planned on being his last fight. This week, though, the colourful character who would take fights on short notice, decided he had had enough.
“If I had one wish, it would have been having one fight with healthy legs just to show what I was capable of,” he said. “I had to fight in the style I had, sitting on the ropes, because of my legs.”
The fighter renowned for his cheeky chappie manner, who has fought at the O2 Arena, London and the Manchester Arena, added: “I may not have become a world champion myself, but I think I proved with what I did that I had a champion in me. I still walk funny and people stare. I believe we are all born unique, and this is me.
“One of the fights I had wanted was with Conor Benn [son of Nigel], but when that fight fell through, I decided it was time to pack in and call it a day.”
As he reflects on his eventful if not illustrious career, Deakin, who has now moved from Tilbury, Essex, to live with girlfriend Sinead, in Luton, Bedfordshire, said: “I’m proud to say at least I did something people said I couldn’t. I was never a world champion, but I’ll go down in the record books.
“I’ve done things so many other fighters will never do. I would like to go on Big Brother – not for fame but I’d like to tell my story, show people that anything can be overcome as I did to overcome my disability and be a boxer.
“But I’m looking to the future now – I want to have a family and provide for them. I work 15 hours a day at the butchers. The truth is that I used the ‘Britain’s Worst Boxer’ tag, used it as a selling point, but I was really much better than that. I did it for money and didn’t get enough.
“I loved entertaining people but I need to earn a living. I love the sport and will always love it – I’m just not stepping in the ring again.”
Deakin’s record was so poor that six years ago, he lost his British boxing licence because the Boxing Board of Control was concerned about his health, but he continued to box on with an overseas licence.
“That never bothered me. I knew I could box on,” he said. “Boxing is a safe sport, but when you do it like me, and not really training, you will get hurt. I probably would have ended up getting hurt. I don’t want that to happen to me, so I’m going to quit while I can keep my head up high.”
But will Deakin be able to stay away? “Like Floyd Mayweather, you never know, I might come back,” he added. The fights I would come back for are the two Conors, Conor Benn and Conor McGregor.
“Anyway, McGregor has a boxing record of 0-1, and I retire with a better record than him.”
‘I used the tag as a selling point, but I was much better than that. I did it for money and didn’t get enough’
Target man: Robin Deakin takes a blow from Billy Morgan in a 2011 super-featherweight fight that, typically, ended in defeat