Lennox Clarke has revealed that he only became a boxer after getting bashed up when he was challenged to spar.
The British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight champion trained every day after clocking off from his job as an apprentice mechanic at his Dad’s garage.
Although Clarke trained in a boxing gym, fighting wasn’t on the agenda and he preferred to pump iron.
Clarke, who upset Willy Hutchinson to win the vacant titles in March, explained: “Straight from work I’d go to a gym where a few Travellers trained.
“I was lifting weights there. One day, a Traveller called Isaac asked me to spar so I got in the ring with him.
“The first time he blacked my eye and I vowed I would get him back for that.
“Every day I would go to the gym and spar with Isaac. After three weeks I was smashing him about.
“After I started getting the better of him he didn’t want to spar again and used to hide round the back of the lockers.
“I’d ask, ‘Where’s Isaac gone?’ but he would be hiding.”
Clarke had the bug and moved into white collar boxing before deciding to turn professional after being told he could crack it in the toughest sport of them all.
The Halesowen man said: “I started sparring Kevin McCauley who is a professional and he used to beat me up even though I was a much bigger lump.
“Eventually he said he wouldn’t be able to spar me because I was learning so much. I was bigger and a bit too heavy-handed.
“Kev sent me to Errol Johnson and we have been together ever since. It was a case of me learning on the job and sparring the pros.”
Clarke toiled on the small hall circuit for six years before promoter Frank Warren offered him a crack at Lerrone Richards for the vacant British and Commonwealth titles in November 2019.
He just fell short that night, dropping a split decision. But, when Warren gave him a chance to face Hutchinson when those belts were vacated, Clarke made the most of the opportunity in devastating fashion.
He added: “I’ve been on the small halls and it is hard what we go through at grass roots level by selling tickets.
“Sometimes I have thought; ‘Is it ever gonna happen for me? Is it ever gonna be worth it? Am I ever gonna get on telly? There are always a lot of questions.
“Now I have had my chance. I’ve been able to level my loss to Lerrone by knocking out Willy.
“I did a video chat with Frank after the fight with Willy and it was nice to speak with him. He accepted I was right when I said I would win. I know Frank is behind me.”
Warren has told Clarke he hopes to give him a defence of his titles this summer and the double champion is more than ready for the best in Britain before switching his attention even higher.
“Frank is looking at getting me out soon. There have been a few names mentioned, but I will fight anyone,” insisted Clarke who still helps out at his Dad’s garage.
“I am a white collar kid so all the pressure is on them. I just go in the ring, give my all and hopefully my best is enough.
“Who knows what is next. It’s nice to be the wanted man, but at British level I will knock them all out and I am being honest.”