Not long ago, 100-year-old boxing club Everton Red Triangle had a trio of top talents in Jazza Dickens, Kevin Satchell, Ryan Farrag, as well as others, making headlines in British boxing, but recent times have seen a complete changing of the guard with a new group of fresh, young fighters coming through.
Head coach Paul Stevenson has been a part of the historical club for over 30 years, firstly as a boxer during the 1980’s, but has spent the past 20 years as a coach.
He guided the career of ‘Satch’ towards winning British, Commonwealth and European titles and is now working hard with the next generation of fighters developing from the century-old club.
He said, “Boxing’s changeable, so Kevin retired unbeaten, Jazza and Ryan moved on, but this gym has always brought through champions from the amateurs to the professionals, we don’t wait around, we’re busy in the background, so we’ve now got a new young crop of boxers that have come through, keeping their head down and working hard.”
There’s an octet of unbeaten boxers plying their trade with Paul, who is shaping them into future champions by encouraging an aggressive and mean attitude to adhere to when in the ring.
All possessing outstanding amateur backgrounds, there’s super-featherweight Nick Ball (11-0); super-bantamweight Bradley Strand (2-0); featherweight Andrew Cain (4-0); super-flyweight Connor Butler (3-0-1); super-middleweight Harry Woods (3-0); super-lightweight Jonathan Walsh (3-0); welterweight Jack McKinlay (1-0); super-flyweight Carly Skelly (2-0).
“It’s what the fans want to see,” Paul began. “As a boxing fan, I want to see educated brutality, fans don’t want to see a journeyman dragging them around for six rounds, so I always say to my boxers to go for the win in a sensational way.
“I train my boxers in that way – to be mean and nasty. When you’ve got a professional survivor in there, getting rid of them isn’t easy; you want to learn from them, but you want to look good as well, and it’s something we look at in training.
“There’s a beauty in all styles of boxing, if you’re a back-foot counter puncher – fair enough, but there’s an artistry in coming forward and being able to land.”
The Everton Red Triangle isn’t the only centennial sports club in the area; Anfield, the home of Liverpool FC, is under a mile away through the back streets. Boxing and football often cross audiences and Paul Stevenson hopes that the local football fans can get behind the emerging boxers as a community.
“Football is obviously big in this area, but look at Josh Warrington, before he made it big, he struggled to sell tickets but suddenly a switch and the Leeds crowd got behind him, and now he’s worth a fortune. If you can’t tap into the crowd, then it’s massive and a lot of the lads are Liverpool fans.”
Presently leading the way, Nick Ball, Andrew Cain and Bradley Strand have all recently signed promotional contracts with Hall of Fame promoter, Frank Warren.
Paul brokered the deals along with promoter Pat Barrett in the hope that it will lead towards others from the club inking similar contracts.
He explained, “Those three at the minute, I’d say are a step ahead, although the others aren’t far behind.
“So, you’ve got Bradley Strand, who was 2018 ABA champion and four-time national champion, he’s an outstanding super-bantamweight, very powerful and snappy, and is adapting to the pro game quickly.
“Then you’ve got Nick Ball, 11-0, who’s lighting up these shows like you wouldn’t believe! He’s a wrecking machine, he’s like ‘The Hulk’, he’s got power, speed, stamina; very exciting to watch, very bright future, just like a featherweight Rocky Marciano.
“Then I’ve got Andrew Cain, who’s 4-0, a four-time national champion, he’s got one of those styles when people see him they know it’s not the norm, that he’s a special kid. He can do pretty much anything in the ring, he’s a bright, intelligent boxer. I’ve trained him since he was about 11-years-old.
“I can’t wait for these lads to get on a Frank Warren show, so the public at large get to see what I’m talking about.
“We just took those three to Frank as an introduction. Right there with them is young Connor Butler, who’s a 4-0 bantamweight, a three-time national champion and absolute beast in the ring. He’s a great talent, with a crowd-pleasing style.
“There’s Jack McKinlay, a big punching welterweight, who had his pro debut a little while ago, he’s definitely one to watch. Also, Harry Woods, Jonathan Walsh, and I’ve got a female boxer, Carly Skelly, who doesn’t train with me, but I manage her.”
All the boxers mentioned will be in appearance next on February 28 at the Liverpool Grand Central Hall on an aptly named bill, ‘Undefeated’.
“That’s a great bill, all my boxers are on the card,” enthused Stevenson.” Nick Ball and Andrew Cain will both be doing six-rounders and all the rest will be doing four rounds.
“We’ve got a guest on the show, James Metcalf, a Commonwealth super-welterweight champion, to bring some good quality to the show.
“There’s about 13 fights on the bill in total and these shows are really gaining a reputation for boxing and excitement of the highest quality. It ain’t what you do, it’s how you do it, and these boys will come forward and you will see skills and special brutality, I’m talking about every one of them with a hellbent attitude to get the job done and looking good.”
The events are a result of a collaboration with Pat Barrett’s ‘Black Flash Promotions’, with four more dates already lined up for later in the year – May 2; July 4; September 5; and November 14.
“Pat Barrett come to me a little while ago and saw we had a lot of real talent in the gym, but we needed an outlet and he said to me we’ll put shows on together. I was able, with Pat, to say to my boxers in January these are the five dates you’re boxing this year and we’ve been able to do the same thing this year.”
The group of eight athletes, who are undefeated in 30 fights between them, will be joined on February 28 by super-middleweight southpaw James Heneghan (3-0); super-lightweight Michael Hedges (2-0); David Thompson (1-0), and hard-hitting heavyweight Karl Tierney (1-0).
The club have a conveyer belt of outstanding boxers coming through from the amateur ranks and the current crop of unbeaten professionals are proof of that.
The amateur setup is thriving in the celebrated club and there is one particular superstar in their squad, known locally as ‘The Scouse Lomachenko’.
“So, then we’ve got the amateur squad in the Everton Red Triangle with Peter McGrail leading the way,” continued Paul. “Like Andrew Cain, he’s been here from 11-years-old and won over eight national titles. He was only the second Englishman to win a European title since 1961, it’s almost impossible to win it. He’s going to a qualifier in March in London, he has to medal to qualify, then it’s out to Japan for the 2020 Olympics.”
It appears this is just the beginning for the flourishing Everton Red Triangle gym, with many more success stories to come.
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