John Daly’s Far Cot­ton box­ing club is pro­duc­ing a host of box­ers to watch writes Matt Bozeat

Boxing News - - Contents -

Far Cot­ton’s con­veyor belt of tal­ent

JOHN Daly looks back on the night he was stabbed 39 times and finds a pos­i­tive. “If it hadn’t hap­pened, I would prob­a­bly still be on the tar­mac day in, day out and who knows where my box­ers would be?” said Daly. “Some of them might have ended up in jail.”

Daly was left fight­ing for his life af­ter be­ing am­bushed out­side his lo­cal pub in Northamp­ton in 1998. “I re­mem­ber a black van pulling up,” he said, “and then I heard some­one jump out . . . ”

The at­tacker set about Daly with a knife and left him in in­ten­sive care, need­ing more than 100 stitches to re­pair wounds to his face, back and stom­ach.

“He wanted to kill me,” said Daly, “and he nearly did. My then-fa­ther in law told me they had given up all hope for me.”

Daly pulled through, putting his re­cov­ery down to the fit­ness built up dur­ing a life­time spent in box­ing. It was his fight­ing spirit that has en­abled him to turn his life – and the lives of oth­ers around.

You may not have heard of Daly or even his Far Cot­ton gym, but if you fol­low Bri­tish box­ing, you will know his fight­ers. There’s Chantelle Cameron, now pro­fes­sional. “I can’t see Chan los­ing,” said Daly. “We know Katie Tay­lor is very good – fast and well schooled – but over 12 rounds, she’s not go­ing to beat Chan. She won’t keep her off.”

The 27-year-old is very much his sort of fighter. “We do four-minute rounds in our gym, with a 30-sec­ond rest be­tween rounds,” said Daly, a fit and sprightly 61 year-old-grand­fa­ther of five. “Chantelle gets fed up dur­ing the 30-sec­ond break. She can’t wait to get started again.”

He con­tin­ued, “Box­ing is a hard sport and I know from ex­pe­ri­ence that you have to do it right.”

Daly knows his en­try on Box Rec should read rather bet­ter than an un­flat­ter­ing 7-9-1. “Now I’m a coach I re­alise why my man­agers [ex-pros Jim Wel­lard and John Cox] used to get so an­gry with me. I didn’t get as far as I should have done be­cause I didn’t give it 100 per cent,” he said.

The ‘give-your-all’ mes­sage is one Daly has passed on to his box­ers since he opened the Far Cot­ton gym in 2004.

First through the gym doors when the club opened were Ash­ley Knowles and Nathan Reeve. Fast for­ward 14 years and Knowles – now known as Lane – is the Com­mon­wealth cham­pion, while the whis­per is, Reeve could soon be fight­ing an elim­i­na­tor for the Bri­tish su­per­fly­weight cham­pi­onship.

“They re­ally pushed each other on,” said Daly, “and I use them as an ex­am­ple to my other box­ers.”

At the Towces­ter Road premises Daly is fast run­ning out of space to paste all the news­pa­per cut­tings that chron­i­cle his fight­ers’ suc­cesses. The Fail twins, Carl and Ben, ap­pear on many of them.

Great Bri­tain coaches have hopes of turn­ing left han­der Carl, sil­ver medal­list in the Euro­pean Un­der-22 and EU Cham­pi­onships, into a 75kgs ver­sion of Luke Camp­bell, while twin brother Ben is rather more im­puisive, a fighter at his

most dan­ger­ous once he’s taken a clean shot or two.

Daly says Ben, Elite mid­dleweight fi­nal­ist last year, “Ei­ther wins by knock­out or unan­i­mous de­ci­sion – or loses on a split.” Both are hard to beat. “They were 12 years old when they first came to the gym,” he said, “and there was some­thing there right from the start. They were two broth­ers who wanted a fight. They had the heart. They had the bot­tle and they were al­ways in the gym. I knew they wanted it and it was down to me to teach them how to box.”

Daly re­mem­bers the twins fac­ing each other in a skills bout to help fill out a lo­cal show af­ter bouts fell through.

“It stole the show,” he re­mem­bered. “They def­i­nitely didn’t just tip tap each other.”

Daly has been rather more than a coach to the twins, and their younger brother Aaron, an Elite quar­ter fi­nal­ist in 2017.

The broth­ers lost their fa­ther, Mark, around a decade ago.

“Box­ing got them through it,” said Daly and it’s done the same for him. Daly has lost two broth­ers and a sis­ter pre­ma­turely.

To Daly’s ob­vi­ous pride, the Fail broth­ers are more than very promis­ing fight­ers.

“Ev­ery­where if go, peo­ple say: ‘Aren’t the Fails nice lads?’ and that makes me so proud,” he said.

Daly’s lat­est suc­cess story is Laura Stevens, crowned Great Bri­tain cham­pion in Sh­effield in De­cem­ber with a unan­i­mous points win over Omarah Tay­lor.

Stevens is very much a Far Cot­ton fighter, an ag­gres­sive com­bi­na­tion puncher, but at 29, Daly knows she’s near­ing the end. “That fi­nal might even be the last fight of her ca­reer,” he said. “Laura has a good job and finds it hard to get to the gym. I told her be­fore the fight: ‘Be­lieve in your­self. You have beaten her be­fore and you can beat her again. Treat it like your last fight and go out there and do it for your fam­ily.’ I told Laura to put ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing into those three rounds and that’s what she did.”

Kai Church was the star of the club’s last am­a­teur show in Fe­bru­ary and heavy­weight Godly Thi­aba made quite an im­pres­sion last year, win­ning the East Mid­lands Box Cup and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Boys and Girls Club cham­pi­onship.

Thi­aba is also eye­ing and pro­fes­sional ca­reer and pro­vided he doesn’t use the pho­to­graph of Daly that’s pinned to the club’s wall as any sort of guide, he could have a good fu­ture.

“Look at that!” Daly said of the pho­to­graph of his 11 year-old self box­ing at Northamp­ton’s Drill Hall. “I’m look­ing away and my back foot is off the floor.

“If one of my box­ers did that, I would kill them!”


STAL­WART: Daly’s life is ded­i­cated to box­ing

PRIDE AND JOY: Daly has high hopes for the promis­ing Carl Fail [cen­tre]

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