An Interview With Brian Hughes

10.05.04 - By Spud Woollatt: British Eastside had the pleasure of catching up with one of this countries leading trainers, Brian Hughes of Manchester. In recent times Hughes has trained to a variety of championship levels, fighters like Robin Reid, Gary Lockett, Thomas McDonagh, David Barnes, Michael Jennings, Tony Doherty, Matthew Hall to name a few. Readers will also recall Hughes had previously trained popular Manchester fighters Anthony Farnell and Michael Gomez.

So in a nutshell, just taking recent times into consideration indeed Hughes and his trusted team at the Collyhurst Gym in Manchester have done not only themselves and British Boxing proud, but in addition there are not many other gyms in the country who could boast their strength in depth with regards to talented boxers.

This is what Brian Hughes had to say:

How long have you been involved in boxing??

Spud, I am 65 years old now, but the first time I ever put a pair of gloves on my hands was when I was 8 years old. It was at the local leisure/community centre. I can recall boxing was so popular in my area in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, it seemed everyone wanted to be involved in the sport in some shape or form.

When did you become a trainer??

It was at the “Old” Collyhurst Gym, in the early 60’s, I was involved in both boxing and football, but I applied for my amateur licence and the Collyhurst became a proper ABA club in the very earl 60’s. I have been a trainer whether it be amateur or professional for over 42 years now.

Who is the best fighter you have trained??

There have been so many boxers who come through the Collyhurst Spud. I have always wanted to train champions. We have so many lads who come to the gym who are gutsy and brave but just don’t have what it takes and it is very difficult telling them I can’t do anything for them. But to answer your question, there have been so many fantastic talented fighters I would rather sit on the fence on that question.

Brian do you get frustrated at all the politics which goes on in boxing?

Spud, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes, but that is where it must remain. However I really do get upset when unnecessary “red tape” affects my boxers.

For instance young Matthew Hall had his comeback fight a couple of days ago. Only a few hours before the lad was due to box he was told he would not be able to do so unless all of the necessary paperwork concerning the medical side of things was lodged at the BBBofC offices in Cardiff, the frustrating thing was we felt we had already done this already, so to ring us so soon before his fight was a lot to take in.

I fully understand everything has to be in place and we must make boxing as safe as possible, but the BBBofC disturbing boxers only hours before they box can disrupt their preparations, as it was we managed to get hold of Matthews doctor who thankfully faxed the necessary medical documents.

Another point I would like to add, it is very frustrating to see so many people throughout the sport squabbling about stupid things, Spud boxing is like a big cake and there is enough of it for everyone to have a piece.

Do you get hurt if one of your fighters criticises you after a defeat??

Over the last 3 years there have been certain people who have tried to make my life in boxing a misery. All sorts of terrible things have been going on behind the scenes, but it got so bad about 5 weeks ago. I was arrested by the police as I had been accused of assault, after over 5 hours at a police station I was completely cleared. Spud, I am a 65 year old overweight man and the person accusing me was less than half my age!!!

As a coach of over 42 years, I have always done my very best for all the lads that have come into the gym, and of course I have always put their welfare first.

If a boxer comes into my gym, I have a 3 year plan whether a boxer is an amateur or professional boxer and throughout the years that plan I have had for all the boxers has worked very well, throughout all of that time I have never believed it necessary to have a contract with boxers but unfortunately bitter recent experience has now taught me I might have been wrong in doing this.

What a lot of people don’t realise me and lots of other people in boxing who work behind the scenes, we have to give up so much time we could be using with our families, so when all the unnecessary “goings on” which have happened and the unfortunate criticisms I have found myself taking has hurt my family a lot.

My wife Rosemarie is ill Spud, and she does not deserve all the pressure that comes her way through what I do in boxing.

So, I have to say yes to your question, when you train, manage, do the cuts as well as advising boxers on personal matters it is upsetting when they blame everyone but themselves for their defeats.

Do you get overly concerned if one of your boxers loses??

It is always good to see the lads win Spud, but sometimes a boxer can learn a great deal out of defeat, that is of course he does not dwell too much.

What about your boxers Brian, what is happening with Robin Reid??

Robin is fighting Brain Magee at the Kings Hall in Northern Ireland on 26th June. He knows it is another big chance. Magee is a good fighter, people should not read too much into his fight with Jerry Elliott, he is a tough slick fighter.

That fight will take place in front of 5,000 passionate fans so the onus will be on Magee to take the fight to Robin. It does not bother Robin whatsoever fighting Magee in his backyard, he is very much looking forward to it.

If Robin beats Magee, what about a fight at the MEN??

Yes, it would be a dream, Robin has fond memories of the MEN and it would be fantastic if he could fight in front of his fans.

Would Robin do what Joe Calzaghe has by stepping up to Light Heavyweight??

Maybe a bit later Spud, but he makes Super Middleweight very comfortably so there is no pressure on him to do so.

Can you talk about Robins fight with Sven Ottke??

That was a very frustrating evening. The Referee as everyone knows was terrible. I did not even have time to settle in the corner after the introductions before the Ref had warned Robin.

It seemed everytime Robin hit Ottke, the German was looking to the Ref for help. All of the interruptions completely disrupted Robins work and frustrated all of us. I can’t remember what round it was but Robin came back to he corner after one round and said “Even if I knock this bloke out, I will get disqualified” so that really sums it up how we all felt.

Since the Ottke fight I have sat Robin down to make sure it is completely out of his system no matter how frustrating it was.

Do you have any news on David Barnes

David is such a fantastic natural athlete, he has such a good range of punches and he will do very well for himself in the sport. I really do believe he has got the talent to win a world title. My only slight concern over David is he gets problems with his hands after fights.

Unfortunately David is out of his fight on 5th June. He has an injured elbow.

How is Thomas McDonagh??

Thomas boxed to orders the other night and did very well. There is so much more to come from him once he matures.

Michael Jennings??

Michael is coming along nice and slowly and like cream he will rise to the top.

Gary Lockett??

Gary is a little frustrated as he thought he was going straight into a fight with Anthony Farnell. But, he will have a warm up fight, then fight an elminator against Wayne Elcock and the winner of that fight will fight Anthony. If Gary fights Anthony that will be a very good fight for Manchester or Wales.

Tony Doherty??

Spud, Tony is like a young DLH, he has so much skill and commitment. He is going to be a very big star in British Boxng.

Matthew Hall??

Matthew is a young lad with a big punch and we will bring him along slowly. Once he matures the crowds will love him and he will definitely draw them in!!!

Brian thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us!!!

Article posted on 10.05.2004

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