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Academy gives a new lease of life to ‘our Paul’

Paul Ingle Boxing Academy opens.Paul in the ring..Picture Richard Ponter 140803b

Paul Ingle Boxing Academy opens.Paul in the ring..Picture Richard Ponter 140803b

Boxing is a cruel sport. It chews up and spits out its champions as easily as it does its weak.

Nobody can testify to this as much as Scarborough’s Paul Ingle, a man regarded by experts as one of the finest British pugilists of his generation.

He won the world title. He boxed in the Olympics. Yet, due to the unforgiving nature of prizefighting, tragedy has ultimately defined his career.

Weight drained and unconcious, his career - and the hopes of his adoring home town - were taken out on a stretcher in December 2000, as he clung onto life.

Now, 14 years later, on a bleak and cold Monday in Hull, Ingle stands outside a drab looking building.

From the outside, it isn’t pretty.

Covered with graffiti, it’s surroundings are far removed from the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, the scene of Ingle’s final glory.

But inside is what he hopes will be a springboard for dozens of future champions, a state-of-the-art spacious boxing gym that has been named in honour of ‘The Yorkshire Hunter’.

He brims with joy as he clasps his eyes on the nearly finished two-storey centre, the vision of long-time friend and fellow fighter Sonny Pollard.

“It’s absolutely first class, and I’m over the moon with what Sonny has done,” said Paul.

The academy represents the latest stage of the champions return.

With the help of money raised through a benefit dinner, he’s shed six stone in a matter of months,

Work has started on an autobiography and plans are even afoot for Ingle to start visiting schools, speaking to children as part of a motivational tour along the Yorkshire Coast.

It’s redemption for the former IBF Featherweight titlist, who has endured some of his hardest battles in his career after the ring.

“The motivation has been gone, he’s been all down, because of my weight,” he added.

“I’ve wanted to do it but when it came to doing it I was just knackered.

“But now I’ve lost a good few stone, I’m raring to go - it’s coming off, I’m feeling better and sharp.

“I would fight again next week if I was allowed.”

And for Paul, he’s once again centre stage, with Sky cameras filming him back in the ring.

The Scarborough sporting legend hits the pads with nephew Harry, himself a promising amateur with dynamite in his right hand.

And while he may not cut the same fearsome figure that won the hearts of the boxing world in the late-90s, as he steps through the ropes, he’s unmistakably Paul Ingle.

“To say that he hadn’t done anything for years, and he couldn’t be bothered to do anything - It’s brilliant, and I’m happy again,” said his adoring mum Carol, who Paul gave his Lonsdale strap to after knocking out domestic ace Colin McMillan at York Hall.

“This building has helped bring him back, it’s brought our Paul back.

“He wants to run, he wants to get into boxing again.”

But while the centre is another milestone in his resurgence, its opening is bittersweet.

As although he is being honoured, it is in a town over 40 miles down the road from his Newby home.

And neither he or those close to him feel he’s been given the kudos in Scarborough that a world title should guarantee him.

“He never had enough recognition at home,” added Carol.

“He is the forgotten boxer, and I couldn’t tell you why.

“If he was from Hull or London, they wouldn’t let that happen.

“His supporters in Scarborough are still there, and always will be.

“They will come up and shake his hand - but there’s nobody else.”

Her comments were echoed by former pro Pollard, who has been friends with Paul since before he turned pro.

“I just find it really upsetting,” said Sonny.

There were talks recently with Scarborough Council to possibly erect a statue of Paul, proposals that were warmly met by town hall chiefs.

However, after finding out the monument would cost tens of thousands of pounds, the plans were shelved.

Sonny hasn’t given up on the statue dream just yet, and insists he will “keep trying” to get a permanent monument for the champion in his home town.

But for now, Paul’s focus will be on Hull, where he would frequently train, and which has a growing reputation for producing elite fighters.

The doors will open up in a few weeks, and besides the chances it offers the youth of the city, Sonny hopes it will help give his friend a stepping stone of his own.

“The end goal for this is for Paul to be healthy, happy and have a career in boxing, either as a pundit or in the gym training children or professional boxers

“Anything that’s boxing orientated where Paul can use his experience and pass it on.”

And Paul added: “To give the experiences I’ve had to some lovely kid, to travel all over the world and to meet all the fighters - that would be first class.”

 

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