They say that to truly understand something is to do it — to experience and to feel first hand. As Editor of La Vida Liverpool, I’ve been gaining a deeper understanding of the Wirral boxing scene and have unearthed some amazing things in my articles.

This time, however, in true Louis Theroux style, I visit the Wirral boxing gyms and train alongside the people of this inspiring community.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

I owe this pleasure to Mickey Allen — a man who helps change lives by taking people off the streets and out of destitution and instead into the boxing ring.

Twelve Quays and Rocky’s gyms, of Seacombe and Birkenhead respectively, are respected institutions where men, women, boys and girls of all backgrounds are equals and all have a space where they can release energy and excel in one of sport’s most ancient art forms.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

My first session with Mickey, the man who has trained some of the best boxers in the region and who gives his life to the local boxing community, made me feel nervous.

What if my punches are really lame? What if I look like an idiot and young lads laugh at me? With my masculinity on the line, I went to Rocky’s with the hope I wouldn’t get completely humiliated!

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I felt at ease. There was a great atmosphere in the gym and I was introduced to people and made to feel welcome.

With uplifting dance music from around 20 years ago that took me back to my days of mis-spent youth, I was first introduced to skipping and I’ll be honest — I skipped like a school girl without singing the silly rhymes. There was no sniggering though — all newcomers are treated with respect and mentored closely.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

Following the skipping it was time to be taught stance — how to position my legs and arms and how to use certain parts of my body like never before. It felt un-natural at first but I soon got used to it and began to shadow box — jabbing with my left then following up with my stronger right.

Once I’d done a few rounds of shadow boxing I was taken to the ring for a few rounds of sparring with Mickey. I have to say, I was again rather nervous! What if I’m really shit and the worst puncher he’s ever known? What if I’m that shit I miss the pads and punch him in the face by mistake? I mean, he’s a former boxer and a top doorman — he’d could fucking kill me if he wanted to!

Alas, there was no time for worrying. The gloves were on, the bell rang and Mickey got me to focus on my stance before jabbing with my left. After a sequence of jabs, I started to follow up with punches from my stronger right.

WOW! I was actually boxing without looking like a complete dickhead (I think). I was now getting confident enough to land combinations — jabs, rights, hooks, even uppercuts. Could I actually become a boxer?

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

I could picture it. Walking down the road and people pointing at me: “You see that Justin, He’s only small but he’s a boss boxer you know. Yeah mate, you don’t want to mess with him lad!”

Back to reality. I didn’t actually think I could become a top boxer, nor did I think I was hard, but if feel really good! To tap into the primal instinct and know I can use my fists (and whole body) properly in a combat situation (not that I intend to be in one outside the ring).

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

And let me tell you another thing — the sound of the gloves smacking the pads is as satisfying as firing a shotgun — the sound, the impact, the feeling. It somehow unlocks your built in desire to unleash power and force — creating a huge BANG!

My first session went really well and as I left with Mickey I had to stop myself from walking like I was hard or something — then I really would’ve looked like a dickhead! I felt good though — really good.

Following my introductory session we picked up Desire Adami — Mickey’s 23-year-old African/Italian prodigy who’s just turned professional. The three of us went to Venture boxing gym in Birkenhead so that Des could spar against Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd — the highly decorated Wirral boxer who has fought over 30 professional fights.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

The Venture gym was buzzing with activity — some skipping, some shadow boxing, some sparring. To witness Des skip effortlessly (and properly) for 5 minutes made me realise how shit and unfit I am in comparison! I think we’ll ‘skip’ skipping in my next session.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

To see Des and Masher in the ring together was fascinating. At first, Des was all out attack — eager to prove himself and get the better of the local legend.

But as the three rounds developed, Masher’s experience and stamina shone through — ducking, diving, weaving in and out and landing clever strategic blows.

Don’t get me wrong, there was no winner or loser here, but Masher has won multiple titles and is a seasoned pro whereas Des is only just starting out. Des held his own though, and it’s clear to see that the future is very bright for him!

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

To witness both men in the ring was highly impressive and there’s no doubt I would’ve got completely destroyed — it really put things into perspective. So much for Justin ‘The Hitman’ Hopper as I had briefly fantasised about.

To actually train in the gyms where these talented boxers are produced was a great experience and to be ‘shown the ropes’ so to speak. After speaking to many people who train there, it re-affirmed the fact that the Wirral boxing community is like a family, full of great personalities and inspiring stories.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

Keep your eyes peeled for more features, as I continue to train and bring you more stories and inside information from the local boxing scene.

Check out Twelve Quays & Rocky’s boxing gyms on FACEBOOK!

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