Tommy Martin will be St Ives Boxing Academy’s first ever pro

EIGHTEEN-year-old St Neots lad Tommy Martin is about to become the town’s only professional boxer.

Martin, who is the club captain at St Ives Boxing Academy, won his final amateur fight against George Horner on home turf on Saturday night – and will now spend time in London at Jimmy Eames’ TKO gym, which boasts a stable of stars including Leon Williams, Kevin Mitchell and George Jupp.

Martin’s coach at St Ives, Steve Whitwell, told The Hunts Post: “Tommy came here as a raw, and sometimes wild, 13-year-old and has turned into a charming and totally professional athlete.

“He lives and breathes boxing and I am so happy and proud that he will be the first professional boxer from this club.”

Martin moved to Huntingdonshire from Essex where he was more interested in football than the noble art. Having been in the youth ranks at Fulham, he was picked up by Peterborough United and only discovered boxing when his younger brother George attended Whitwell’s academy.

Martin told The Hunts Post: “My mum and dad took George down to the boxing club and he wanted me to watch him – he pleaded with me to come down, so I did, and the minute I walked in, I fell in love with the sport. Since then I have never looked back.

“I was on a day release scholarship at Peterborough so I had a meeting with my manager and they told me they would support me if I chose boxing above football.

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“They were great. Darren Ferguson and Andy Dibble even came to my first amateur fight.

“I have had 42 fights now and it has got to the stage where I need to go to that next level. I want to enjoy my boxing and live it properly – live, eat, sleep, breathe it.

“It really is my life and right now I think I have got the chance to make that happen.

Martin also attends a gym in Norwich where he spars with the Walsh brothers – the current Commonwealth super featherweight champion Liam, his twin Ryan, and their elder sibling Michael. Martin first met the trio while training in Tenerife and Whitwell spends some of his time coaching at their gym.

Martin is hoping to make his debut at lightweight – but it could be six to eight months before he is ready for his first professional fight. “I box at light welterweight at the minute but I want to get down to 63kgs,” he explained.

Martin freely admits it will take a while for the money to start coming in. “You’ve got to make sacrifices to reap the rewards,” said his father Andrew, who was an international show jumper.

Martin added: “All my friends have got jobs – but boxing is my work. By the time I am in my 30s or 40s I want to be able to retire.”

Whitwell said: “Tommy has a massive following from St Ives and St Neots and that will only increase as he becomes better known.

“Tommy will be a success in the pro ranks and his style and attitude will make him one of the most popular boxers out there.”

Martin ended his amateur career by defeating Horner, the boxer who had beaten him just a week beforehand in Scarborough.

It was an itch that Martin had to scratch before turning professional, the 18-year-old admitted.

“I thought I won the first time,” said Martin. “But we were in his back yard and I lost by a majority decision. I really wanted to fight him again before I turned pro. Otherwise I knew it would be playing on my mind.

“We had the rematch on Saturday and I won that unanimously. I just had to make sure.”

It was late in the evening by the time the two boxers met again, with a full St Ives Boxing Academy card at the Corn Exchange in the town. The first two rounds were close, but in the third Martin found his range and his superior boxing skills took over. In the end the judges were clear that there was only one winner.

“He could have had an easier fight for his last,” said his father Andrew, “but Tommy’s not like that. He wants to fight the champions just to prove a point.” It wasn’t just Tommy that dad Andrew was there to support – 13-year-old George Martin also opened the evening with a skills contest against Ferry Street ABC.

Dean Pepper, 11, then won his fight against Lewis Mulberry from Chalvedon with a majority decision.

Bradley Smith, who is 15, continued his winning run with a close majority decision against Louis Issacs from Lion ABC. Smith was forced back throughout the contest and it was only because of his superior counterpunching that he got the decision.

Also on the bill was Masters boxer Matt Cable, 35, who won his cruiser weight rematch against Lee Farndale from South Normanton with a majority decision.

Middleweight Sam Barron, 23, made his long-awaited comeback against Arash Haemoradi from the All Stars club, grinding out a majority decision, while 18-year-old Ryan Robertson made a quick return to the ring after his first defeat the previous week. He was unlucky not to get the right decision in his contest.