Unbeaten light-welterweight, Ben ‘The Entertainer’ Day 5(1)-0-1 is due to take on Portsmouth’s Ben Kneller 0-1(1)-0 at London’s York Hall on December 13th in his first six round contest on the undercard of the Goodwin Promotion’s season finale, ‘It’s Go Time’, featuring six title fights.
The affable Devonian turned Londoner talks to BBN quite frankly about the struggles in his life with personal demons, turning negatives into positives and his forthcoming fight – the first six-rounder under the new guidance of Alec Wilkey.
You originally hail from Teignmouth, Devon, how exactly did you end up in London?
“I was working in a fish and chip shop part-time and I was a bit of a loser really so I had to get out. I did a leisure and tourism course at college but I wasn’t turning up and was messing around on my motorbike instead. Then one day, a guy called Tony McFaul said to me that I needed to stop being a loser and gave me a chance to get a job in London. I used to hang around with his son Ben McFaul, and Tony would ask his son, ‘Why are you knocking around with such a loser?’ and my friend Ben said, “He just needs a chance, Dad,” So he gave me one and I ended up working on a site in London alongside Tony, learning all about construction.
My friend, Garth McWilliam and his family (who were originally from Devon and who I went to school with) put me up at their house for a while when I was working on various London sites. I had been through a few traumas, lost a few family members which caused me to drink a lot and I lost my driving licence which impacted on my job. So without a job or anything to do, I joined a boxing gym. It was John Rooney’s gym and I started taking classes there and realised that I was good at it. I also used to do carpentry work for the gym which gave me a small income whilst I learnt the art of boxing.
After a couple of years I decided to move on, and find a premises to open my own boxing gym. There were many set backs along the way but I kept moving forward. My mate Garth worked for the planning office at that time and he was able to assist me with my planning application which got accepted first time.
Tony McFaul was actually at my gym just a few months ago and couldn’t believe what I had done, He had a tear in his eye looking around my gym and seeing what I had achieved, He was the one that made it happen. He was a big influence; a big part of it.”
You have your very own boxing gym, as you have just mentioned, in central London, the Ringtone Boxing Gym, how do you manage being a business owner and professional boxer at the same time?
“I don’t know, that’s the answer, I don’t know how I do it! I’m up early, I’d say 7-8am, I check emails while I eat breakfast, open up the gym, travel to Alec Wilkey’s gym on the train to be there at 11am, travel back, eat lunch, do some stuff in the gym like maintenance whilst always checking emails and taking phone calls, then people start coming in to the gym for classes – Jack Readings does all the classes and personal sessions so that I can concentrate on my boxing career. Jack is an asset to me and to Ringtone Boxing Gym, and has become a good trainer and friend. His time will come and he knows I will support him all the way.
After the classes the clients all come and talk to me, I walk around chatting to everyone because the people in the gym like to see me because I’m the face of the gym. Then I go for a run at 9.30pm for 45 minutes, then back home with my girlfriend and we do the accounts and admin work for the gym, so normally I dont get to bed until around 1.30am. I’m a naturally high person so I struggle to switch off.
I believe in the saying ‘Don’t work for money, make money work for you’. If I didn’t work my nuts off for the last four years then I wouldn’t be where I am with the gym and my boxing. If I didn’t go through all of the trauma and adversity that I went through then I wouldn’t have been able to run the business - it takes strength and courage.
I saw a gap in the market for my gym, which is for everyday people. Its a healthy positive place that changes people’s lives. I don’t want it to be considered an amateur or professional gym, it’s strictly for everyday people, and you will find a lot of office workers in there such as accountants, lawyers and even cab drivers.
I have separate classes as well for ladies and cabbies so they can train in a comfortable environment. It’s a boutique gym where people like to go. If I allow amateur and professionals in, it'll change the dynamics of the gym too much so I have a strict policy regarding that. I’ve been running my business for four years now and it’s growing at a good rate. Its not a gym it’s a journey, it has a story behind it. If you read the messages on the walls in the gym – it’s all about inspiration.”
We understand that it has not been plain sailing to get to where you are now?
“To me, I honestly believe many people haven’t been where I’ve been in my life. I had to get that low and that broken and that destroyed to restart my whole life again. I remember being in John Rooneys gym and having no money, loads of debt, and having nothing but I’ve always felt that wherever I’ve been in my life that I’ve always had that last little bit of something inside me to keep me going.
Being in that last fight with Paul Haines, it was a tough fight and I had to dig deep down, I even thought about my father whilst I was in there who passed away many years ago. From all of that, I can say that I’ve learned and I did go through it and it’s given me the strength to be where I am now, a successful business owner with an unbeaten profession boxing record. It’s been hard, it takes a lot of strength to run a business but I make it look easy - people don’t understand the background and work that goes in.”
You left Mickey Helliet’s Hellraiser Promotions in favour of Steve Goodwin’s "Goodwin Promotions", what was the reason behind that decision?
“There was a few things that happened really but I wouldn’t want to say too much because I’m not that sort of person but I’m very thankful for Mickey Helliet who gave me my start in boxing.
I like Mickey and respect him, I’m 36 so I’m not a child but I make my own decisions and it was a business decision for me.
I feel that Steve is a lot like myself and he’s very much about building up people. When my last opponent didn’t turn up he handled it very well so that I am able to offer reduced tickets to my supporters for this next fight.
The Goodwins are on-the-up, especially with their new connection with Matchroom Boxing and The Fight Pass. I also have a very good relationship with Kevin Campion, who is Steve’s right hand man.”
You are now six fights undefeated, have a successful business behind you and your first ever trainer in Alec Wilkey guiding you – this must be pretty exciting times for Ben Day?
“It really is! I’m good at all sports, give me anything – a ball, a racket, a bat and I’ll excel in it. I gave boxing a go and I was good at it. People have told me to give up after that draw with Paul Haines but people only talk about what they would do themselves and they would have given up. If I gave up after every setback then I wouldn’t have been standing there talking to them in my own gym because I had plenty more setbacks in getting that place! Many others would’ve given up a long time ago but not me. As the saying goes "Everyone gets found out in the marathon!"
It’s really good with Team Wilkey. I even got t-shirts made up for all the guys the other day saying ‘Teamwork makes dreams work’. You need to be with the best to do well, it takes talent and hard work.
Alec said I’m a bit wild and all over the place, but he said to do the elusive shit when out of range but when in range, it’s hands up, chin down and sit on the shots. He has helped me to keep my style and develop into a better boxer at the same time.
You have a very interesting and awkward style of boxing, where did you learn this and who are your boxing inspirations?
“I tell you what I did – I watched Prince Naseem and copied him! I was deeply into Prince Naseem, so much so that one day he turned up at my gym! I once bought a picture of Yassine El Maachi and Prince Naseem, I got it from Facebook and sent it to him (Yassine). He came down to the gym and said thank you to me and then one day I had a missed call so I rang back and Naz answered! Then another day I met Naz for a coffee in Marylebone and he said, ‘come on then mate, let’s go to your gym’. He drove us there in his Bentley with the tunes playing and it was just surreal.
Where attention goes – energy flows! Because of all the trauma I went through, I’ve got the best positive mental attitude now. I was fucked over by my last business partner which was a misfortune but I turned it into an opportunity. Every struggle I’ve had, I’ve turned into a success. From now on I know when struggle is here success will appear”
Your last fight against Paul Haines 0-13(2)-1 at the Camden Centre in Kings Cross in September last year ended with a draw, on paper he does not have a very good record so was that disappointing for you?
“Very disappointing because I don’t lose, I haven’t got it in my mind to lose. In school, I won everything – races, sprints. I once did the 3000 metres and I came second and I never ran that race again – I don’t get beaten.
I didn’t lose that fight but it was just like that race again, I didn’t win so I felt like I came second but I’m not that 15-year-old child now, I’m a man so I have to pick myself up.
I can’t keep stressing about the importance of positive thinking if I don’t live by it. People like to preach their dream but live a nightmare. In a psychological sense, I am a champion, I’ve overcome all this adversity and trauma and I just get on with it.
Win, lose or draw, records don’t always matter, people older than me ask me "Are you're going to quit because you drew with that boxer?" and I say that he had more fights than me to get it right. People say it to me more than anyone else because of my age, if it was a kid that got a draw, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid.”
The journeymen that I’ve fought always try harder against me because they think they can win. I’m 36 with no boxing background so they think they can come in and nick a win off me. I’ve only had eight fights altogether whereas a prospect has had countless amateurs and then pro bouts, so they will tuck up against their opponent, try not to get hurt and just get through the fight.”
You have not fought since that fight resulting in over a year hiatus from the ring, what is the reason behind that inactivity?
“More than that, it was over 14 months. But I see it as this, I had a white collar fight once, then a year and a half later, I had another one, then a year after that, I had a professional fight! How crazy is that – I mean who does that?! What is inactivity? My schedule is so hectic that I don’t see myself ever being inactive. I’m always busy.”
Your next opponent is Ben Kneller in your first ever six round fight, what do you know of him?
“Don’t give a shit about anything! Who gives a shit? I don’t care. That’s not being cocky, I’m just well excited so bring it on. I’ve got so many other things that I’m dealing with that I don’t care about another man being in front of me trying to hurt me. What can he possibly do to me?!”
You have talked before about being in Prizefighter one day, do you still have ambitions for that?
“Nah, that’s gone. I don’t talk about that anymore. I’ve been sparring Danny Connor and I’m very awkward, he has said so. He’s got a very good chance, he’s a hard worker too and I’ll be there to support him.”
Your first six round fight is on December 13th on the advice of Alec Wilkey, where do you see yourself being this time next year?
“I feel personally, British Masters or even Southern Area. Alec is just working on improving me but that’s down to my manager to arrange, but Alec will have the final say and it’s all coming. It’s got be right-without the experience of an amateur or even pro, then it’s all a bit crazy. Being older, I feel like I’ve got more time and more patience now to make the right decisions and not to rush into things. I’ll see how the six round bout goes then take it from there.”
You’re 36 now, just how far do you see yourself going?
“Ultimate goal is the British title.”
The action-packed show, ‘It’s Go Time’, will be broadcast live on Matchroom TV’s ‘The Fight Pass’ and features 16 schedule fights including six title fights and a fantastic undercard with many talented prospects such as Ricky Hatton’s protégé, Anthony Upton along with older brothers Sonny and Paul, Peckham’s Johnny Garton and opponent Adam Battle vying for the vacant BBBofC Southern Area welterweight, Bexley’s George Jupp up against Craig Poxton for the vacant Southern Area Super-Featherweight title, Andreas ‘The Ace’ Evangelou defending his International Masters light-heavyweight title, Rakeem ‘The Noble’ Ashaye in his first ever title fight against Lewis O’Mara from Portsmouth for the British Masters Bronze light-welterweight title, and top ten ranked welterweight ‘The Natural’ Larry Ekundayo.
For tickets to the show call 07816 823 586 or visit http://ringtoneboxinggym.com/
As well as standard, unreserved and reserved ringside tickets there are also VIP tickets priced at £100 which includes a guaranteed reserved ringside seat in rows one and two together with a free private bar from 5pm until 7.30pm with food snacks included.
To follow Ben Day on Twitter click here @benday32