A true sport­ing champ

Bri­tain’s worst boxer hangs up his gloves

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Front Page - Gareth A Davies BOX­ING COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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

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