By Andrew Fairley
Andy Gatenby has announced his untimely retirement from the ring.
Injury fears have forced the Portsmouth super-bantamweight to hang up his gloves at the age of 27.
Gatenby revealed concerns about an eye injury were behind the move to quit the sport, after building a six-fight unbeaten professional record.
"Health is the main reason I’m stopping," he said.
"I was referred to a specialist after a routine eye exam and he told me I had lacerations that meant there was a high risk that if I carried on boxing I could suffer a detached retina.
"Potentially, that could mean I couldn’t work or provide for my family. And even if I were to become British champion, it’s just not worth not being able to see my little girl grow up because I was blind in one eye, or worse.
"It was a massive decision for me but boxing is just one part of my life and health is the most important thing."
Gatenby admitted maintaining the commitment levels needed to progress in his sport was beginning to weigh on him. The man, who picked up his first stoppage last time out against Elemir Rafael in Southsea, knew he could not afford to continue if that was the case.
Gatenby was keen to kickstart his career after facing a string of journeymen but recently saw a glamour clash with former European champion Esham Pickering fall through.
But he is content he put everything he could into his time in the sport.
Gatenby said: "There’s the stress factor as well, working a full day then training and getting home at 9pm at night.
"It’s as hard on my wife, Kirsty, as it is on me – she has to make so many sacrifices, too.
"My retirement is as much a life-changing event for her as for me.
"I lived the life. I can put my hand on my heart and say that throughout my career, professional and before, I couldn’t have worked harder.
"For the last four years I’ve trained as hard as I possibly could. I’ve breathed it and I’ve slept it. I was dedicated and I didn’t leave any stone unturned. I stayed true to myself, never ducked a fight and that’s what I’m most proud of. ‘Knowing it’s over is in many ways a relief, I haven’t got to worry about fighting, letting people down or making them proud.
"Part of me is gutted but also it feels like a massive weight off my shoulders. I’m not coming back, I guarantee it. My mind’s made up and I’m not going back on it."
Gatenby reserved praise for the help of his trainer, John Murray, and admitted he can see a future for himself as a coach.
He added: "You won’t see me in the ring again, except maybe as a trainer as I think I’ll get involved with an amateur club. Now, I just want to spend time with my family.
"To my fans I want to say thank you, for following me and believing in me. They’ve felt it all with me and shared the rollercoaster experience. The same goes for my trainer John Murray who has been a tower of strength to me.
"Now it’s over."