Meet a key man in Chester's boxing revival - trainer Steve Goodwin

Meet a key man in Chester's boxing revival - trainer Steve Goodwin

I walk into the gym just off Lightfoot Street in Chester and every time it makes me smile. Gone is the old spit and sawdust establishment of a couple of years ago. This is new, modern, hi-tec. The ring and MMA cage stand proud at the back of the building. This is where the learning is done. And boy, have they been learning.
I am greeted warmly by head trainer Steve Goodwin. Many people may be put off by his gruff exterior. They shouldn t be. He just doesn t suffer fools gladly. I have learned however, that if you give him 100% he will go to the ends of the earth for you. He is a man of character, and that character fills every nook and cranny of the gym (pictured observing training).
I am served a cup of coffee and we get down to business. Today s agenda was the year 2011. And what a year it what been for Chester boxing. Lightweight Chris The Gunner Goodwin took away two International Masters titles, whilst super bantamweight Paul Economides pocketed two British Masters straps. Both are flying up the rankings and both have been ear-marked as ones to watch in 2012.
It seems a long time ago that Steve Goodwin first stepped into the ring, especially for Steve.
I started down the Golden Star club in Ellesmere Port when I was ten, and I boxed until I was 16/17. It was then that I started training. Ian Irwin taught me at the start, got me learning what I was doing.
Then my friend Alan Millett went pro and I went to Manchester to do the interview with him. To my surprise Jack Trickett told me that I had been put forward for my trainer s licence. It was a shock to me!
I went into the room and I got it, with a little help from Ensley Bingham. When they asked what I needed to bring into the corner, I forgot scissors. Ensley made a cutting gesture on the near side of his face to me. I remembered and the rest is history.
Travelling with Millett I got to meet some great trainers who taught me what they knew.Notably Franny Hands in Liverpool. He had Frost and Schumacher among others.
It was then that a relationship was forged with the man who Steve regards as the biggest influence on his boxing career.
I took Jimmy Hawk down to Brian Hughes gym for some sparring. Brian would always come over and help me with the technical stuff. He is the one of the most knowledgeable men in the sport and I try and bring everything he taught me into my own gym. Touch wood I m doing it well. But that is all down to Brian, I can t thank him enough, I never will be able to.
After teaming up with Hughes and cornering fighters such as Reid, Jennings, Farnell, Barnes and Gomez at every title level imaginable over the next five years, Goodwin felt it was time for a return home to Chester.
I had this dream that I wanted to create my own amateur gym and get the lads to turn pro. We achieved that. We had Kevin Buckley, my son Chris Goodwin, Joe Lovell, Omar Gumati and Gary Sheil.
Goodwin looks almost mournful when he discusses Kevin Buckley. Kevin was once denoted as one of Boxing News hot prospects and was a contemporary of Anthony Crolla. Whilst Crolla has gone on to become a domestic superstar, Kevin has faded from the scene.
I really thought Kevin would go onto be something special. He had absolutely everything; he had the makings of a world star. Sadly his shoulder injury got to him and I think he is done. I hope one day he can come back, he is the biggest waste I have seen. What a fighter.
As one star departed the scene another one entered it. Paul Economides had just come off a heartbreaking first round defeat to Stephen Russell at the back end of 2009. It was then that all parties decided to bring Steve in as Paul s full time trainer. Still, things weren t easy at the start.
Paul has the best engine imaginable. The problem was that he thought that would win him every fight. It won t, end of. So I got him working two and a half hours a day with Chris and Omar on the technical side of the sport, defence etc. It has been two years of a battle as he sometimes wouldn t listen. He had to get some personality adjustment .
After those two years of battling Economides is a two time champion. For Steve it is one of his proudest moments.
He has gradually been improving every fight, but I was so happy with that win over Gavin Reid last time out. His skills and defence were incredible. He is ranked number seven in the Boxing News ratings. Mark my words; he is almost ready for Quigg.If he does as he is told, he will take Quigg to hell and back.
We then moved onto his son, Chris. Goodwin has been earmarked as a possible major champion in 2012. Despite today s dreams of success, the start of Chris career didn t go so spectacularly well. Chris was late to mature physically and lost his fight against Chris Mullen. After seven straight wins he drew against Scott Sandmann. Chris admits to fucking up on the weight . Better was to come when he fought Jon Baguley on the Murray-McAllister undercard just one fight later.
That was live on ITV and he did really well beating him on points. Barry McGuigan asked his name as he was so impressed.
After taking some time off Chris returned to the ring against Yousef Al-Hamidi in a highly underrated win. After that he has claimed his two titles, beating Geoffrey Munika in style on his own home show, becoming Chester s first ever champion in the process. Just a month later he beat Wesley Hertoghe to claim another title. Steve reckons this is now the time to move on.
We want another title for Chris. Maybe when Crolla vacates we can fight for the British title. We have our route mapped out; we know Chris will do something special.
Goodwin has massive hopes for the gym in the future, not just a pro level.
We have amateurs like Tommy Speed (Gary Speed s son), he is one to watch. He is now in the Mersey squads. He has textbook skills, just like Christopher. And we have others who are going to make a mark. Our obsession with skills here don t stop with the pros, we are up for making all our fighters something special.
Almost apologetically he interjects with another one of his fighters who had to retire. Omar Gumati.
Omar would definitely have won belts. He was brilliant, smooth as silk and was getting better. Sadly his back gave way and he couldn t continue. Omar was not only a great fighter, but a wonderful person; I have so much respect for him in both fields.
With so much going on in the gym, it was obvious Goodwin needed some help. And he got that in two ex pros. Jimmy Hawk and Gary Sheil.
They are both doing really well and learning all the time. Jimmy has the experience of fighting in the States and Gary mixed with some really good domestic fighters. He may not have won any, but look at his record. Jamie McDonnell on his debut, Chris Edwards, Usman Ahmed twice, Don Broadhurst. You will have to go a long way to find a fighter with that kind of resume over eight fights. They both bring so much to the camp.
So 2012 could be something really special for the gym. Steve Goodwin doesn t want to stop there. He is more than happy to expand with new pros.
If somebody is going pro or thinks they need a change, come and have a look at the gym. We do things differently here. Skill is the key and we have brought in a top sports scientist. We can bring anyone through if they want it enough. Plus we have our promoters Fight Options behind us; we can get our lads home shows. Fight Options have helped revolutionise the sport in Chester. So if you want to be part of it, give us a call.
I leave the gym and once again I smile. Something special is happening here, and this is just the start. Who knows what we will have to talk about at the end of 2012?

05.01.2012

 
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