BOXING: Tearful Tommy Martin forced to retire after nine months of anguish, but he is already focused on a bright future
- Credit: LAWRENCE LUSTIG
Huntingdonshire hero Tommy Martin has revealed his career as a boxer is over.
The St Neots-based star, a former English and WBA Continental light-welterweight champion, has been forced to retire on medical grounds.
Martin suffered a bleed on the brain following a Commonwealth title showdown against John Wayne Hibbert back in January.
It was the first defeat in a blossoming 14-fight career that promised to take the 22 year-old to the very top, but the British Boxing Board of Control will not allow him to step into the ring again.
An emotional Martin formally announced his retirement earlier today, but he insists he won’t be turning is back on the sport in which he made his name.
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Martin said: “I’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes since losing the title fight against John Wayne Hibbert.
“I don’t remember a thing that happened immediately after the fight other than my girlfriend at the time having to pick me up off the floor of the shower cubicle in the dressing room.
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“I was taken back to my hotel, but ended up in hospital on a drip. The MRI scan I had that night came back clear and I was allowed home.
“I then had a few days away in Ireland and thought nothing more of it. I was eager to get back into the ring as quickly as possible to move on from my first defeat.
“I started doing some fitness work, but a few days into it began to be troubled by headaches.
“I went to Hinchingbrooke Hospital, where they sat me in a waiting room for four or more hours while in exruciating pain, but they did not give me a scan and told me I would be fine.
“The pain did not stop and my GP got me an ambulance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where I did undergo an MRI scan that brought the bleed to light.
“At first they thought it was minor and I would be okay after a few days rest. That looked like it was the case and I headed back down to the gym in London.
“I didn’t feel right though and my trainer, Barry Smith, called an ambulance to take me to the Royal London Hospital, where they found the bleed had increased.
“I was kept in for a full week and they could not have looked after me any better even though I was getting sick of the sight of the same four walls every day.
“Without my little brother, George, and Barry making we laugh 24/7, I would have been in a far more dark place.
“I decided it was best to keep things quiet when I got out of hospital, but I began to get depressed and angry at the people closest to me.
“I got a call from my promoter, Eddie Hearn, to tell me I was on a bill in Leeds at the end of July, and that was a brilliant boost.
“I was absolutely flying in the gym and got back into unbelievable shape before going out to Marbella for a couple of weeks to finish my training at the MGM (Macklin’s Gym Marbella).
“When I was out there I started to have big problems with my ex-girlfriend, but nothing could stop me as I had boxing back and the sport means everything to me.
“But I returned home to hear that the BBBoC had learned I’d been in hospital and wanted to see my medical records before I would be allowed to box again.
“It meant I had to be pulled from the show in Leeds and hit an all-time low.
“I was sent to a neurosurgeon to get more scans and his advice on whether or not I should box again.
“The scans were very positive with only a little bit of scarring from the bleed, He was happy for me to box again, but I learned that the BBBoC weren’t willing to take that risk.
“So it is with utter regret that I announce my retirement as a fighter. Unfortunately it is the end of the road for me as a boxer.
“However, the great team I have around me at MGM have given me the opportunity to carry on working in the sport, whether it be through managing, representing or coaching boxers.
“I can guanratee I will work my backside off for them in whatever roles I am given.
“I am a strong believer in Christ and can’t praise him enough for the people he has put around me.
“I am truly grateful and it is now time to turn this negative into a positive by putting all the passion and fire I have back into other fighters.
“I’m so excited for what the future holds.”
Martin chose to forge a career in boxing despite also being a promising goalkeeper as a youngster in the Peterborough United youth set-up.
And it looked an inspired decision as he burst onto the professional scene with a bang from the moment he claimed a debut success over Artur Saniuk in November, 2012.
Martin’s finest moment arrived in January, 2015 whn he out-pointed Ricky Boylan to become the youngest boxer to ever win the English light-welterweight strap, and he followed up with another title success later that year by stopping Michael Devine to collect the WBA Continental belt.
Martin then challenged the much older and more experienced Hibbert for his Commonwealth and WBC International crowns in January, only to be controversially counted out in the final round after giving a terrific account of himself.
That proved to be his last action in the ring and Martin has now issued a public thank-you to those who plotted and backed his career.
Martin added: “I just want to say thanks to every single person who has been part of my journey.
“The people I need to give special mention to are my trainer Barry Smith, who put his heart and soul into making me the fighter and the man I am today, and promoter Eddie Hearn for believing in me at such a young age.
“All of the team at Matchroom Boxing looked after me so well and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the support of everyone who followed my career, especially my fantastic sponsors.
“And I’ve also got to thank the BBBoC for probably saving my life.”