South Oxhey featherweight, Reece Bellotti, is 12-0 (11) and the Commonwealth champion. He went from playing youth football with nearby Watford native and heavyweight supremo, Anthony Joshua, to winning a pair of ABA titles and turning pro under trainer Jim McDonnell and promoter Matchroom. Here is how he got into boxing:
“My first fight was at 17, I had no junior fights or anything, I went to the South Oxhey club as a junior but I was just keeping fit. I was there about two years, all the time and one day they said, ‘Do you wanna fight?’ I said ‘Okay’, but I wasn’t really that interested. Now I pay little attention to football but then I was into football and just had a laugh at boxing. I weren’t thinking I was going to make something of myself or that I could become a professional. My first ABAs [in 2011] I got beat by Adam Whitfield in the semi-final, and I thought, to get that far, obviously I’m not that bad; it was the first time I had a bit of self-belief. I wanted to beat Whitfield the following year, I lost a close fight but the following year I won it; I didn’t meet him again though. That was at 54kg, I weren’t gonna go in at the same weight as I didn’t enjoy making weight but my amateur trainer said, ‘I know you’ll win if you do’, and I did. After that I said, ‘I’m not staying at 54, I’m going up a weight.’ I went up and that was probably my favourite year as an amateur because it was easy making weight and I was enjoying the fights. I went on a three or four-fight run of stopping people. My amateur record was 30-10, we were out to keep as busy as we could, I went two seasons unbeaten.
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“As for football with AJ, I woulda been 13-14. I dabbled, but I wasn’t too serious. At the time I thought I was good, I used to play the year above myself, so everyone was older, but looking back, in the grand scheme of things, I was pretty horrible [laughs]. It weren’t like I was gonna be a professional footballer. Everyone hit puberty a year before I would have, they started shooting up into big men. I kept getting put on the bench, and I eventually faded out; I thought, ‘I’m not going every Sunday to sit on the bench.’ I recently played a little charity do, a little messabout, and it made me realise how terrible I am at football. I can run about all day long coz I’m fit from boxing.
“My dad works in the film industry, as an electrician. I’m fully qualified as well so I slot into that between training camps. My mum manages a pre-school. Mum has to been all my pro fights but only about five amateurs; she hates the whole thought of it. The first two or three I’d lose so she thought she was a bad omen. She’d say, ‘If you get to the finals I’ll come and watch you.’ I’d say, ‘I’ve been fighting for weeks on end, when I get to the final I’m tired and you should ask how I feel about my chances and I’ll be honest, then base your decision of whether you wanna come or not on my answer.’ Even now she says, ‘Shall I come to this one, Reece?’ And I’m like, ‘Trust me, I’ll smash it.’”