Lee Murtagh’s Boxing Diary – Ten Year and Still Counting

As I approach my 10th year of promoting boxing I’m going to have a short look back over the last decade, but before I do that, I think it’s only fair to mention another veteran of the noble art; Mansfield’s Steve Ward who after years of boxing, finally got his world title shot in a WBC super veteran heavy weight champion at Mansfield Civic Centre.

I was the referee for this and it was a great fight which saw 60 year old Steve ahead on all the score cards until he got caught by a big shot in the 7th round and wasn’t in any state to continue. Steve retired after the fight but he’s the proud owner of a Guinness Book of Records certificate and also a specially engraved belt to commemorate his record as well as a ‘This is Your Life’ style reception at Mansfield Civic Hall.

Onto my next show at the Aria Suite on 8th September. Sadly due to print deadlines, the show will have already taken place by the time you read this but it’s not going to stop me looking back over a great ten years. I began promoting because when I first started to train boxers, I struggled to get them onto shows for various reasons and it was always a case of waiting for a phone call that never came.

So I took matters into my own hands and put on my first show at Sheepscar WMC on 28th September 2007. Boxing is a tough discipline and people come and go, especially at this level and I take my hat off to anyone who has climbed between the ropes on one of my shows, it’s difficult and also slightly unfair to pick out individuals but the Sam Smith – Anissa Haddaoui trilogy, Liam Hayes’ explosive début and the open air shows at Garforth Town FC, will always have a special place in my memory and people still remind me of Leeds Hardest Doorman and Lee Sharpe versus Robin Reid for charity. My path into promoting also taught me not to rely on managers, promoters or the host of other people who get themselves involved in boxing for one reason or another. So I became master of my own destiny. Whether that was putting on the first show in Leeds outside the confines of the BBBC, offering to fight for free for the Irish title, quitting at the Star Gym on York Road to open Bethlehem Boxing Club in Richmond Hill or arranging my own fight in the USA after I got sick of waiting for Phil Furys camp to get back to me about defending the Irish title against him on the undercard of a Tyson Fury fight.

Promoting taught me to think outside the box, seven years ago I did a couple of articles with this magazine which eventually morphed into this regular diary of grass roots boxing in Leeds. No other local boxer or local magazine had thought to do that before, in fact I joked I was in hallowed company, with Barry McGuigan writing a column in the Mirror and Frank Warren doing likewise in the S*n.

It’s five years since I won the Irish title and around the same time, film maker Ronald Wright walked into Bethlehem and boldly announced he wanted to make a film about boxing in Leeds and had seen the name Bethlehem. I didn’t know at the time but Ron had already decided he wanted the film to be called ‘Fighting Down in Bethlehem’ and he followed my progress which eventually ended in my fight with Hector Camacho Junior. Hot on the heels of the film, Made in Leeds arrived on our TV screens and Bethlehem Boxing on the telly was born.

Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the last 10 years is just the fact I’m still here promoting and stronger than ever. A friend described me as a pioneer, not only for bringing boxers from abroad onto my shows but also promoting Women’s boxing in the area when nobody else seemed to want to touch it and also for putting semi pro and pro boxers on the same show. You could say I’m like Coca Cola – the original is the best – and I’ll carry on doing things My Way as the song goes, hopefully for another decade and beyond until I face the final bell.

Lee Murtagh 07793 240535

Professional Boxer / Trainer

leemurtaghbui@hotmail.com

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