Leeds hotshot Tom Young turned his back on a lucrative football career to achieve glory in the boxing ring and says he will get that when he wins Ultimate Boxxer.
As a teenager, the talented striker was on the books with Leeds United’s Academy and could have been looking at playing potentially in the top-flight.
But he also loved to fight and he made the decision to swap his football boots for boxing gloves and will now eye the top prize in Ultimate Boxxer 1 at the Manchester Arena on Friday, April 27.
Ultimate Boxxer I pairs eight undefeated and hungry welterweight fighters to go toe-to-toe in an exhilarating new elimination tournament – backed by ambassadors Ricky Hatton, Anthony Crolla and Paulie Malignaggi – to win a cash prize from a pool of £50,000 – and the chance to become boxing’s newest star.
The event offers fans more that just boxing with live entertainment acts and celebrities at ringside to give a transformed boxing experience for the next generation.
Young said, “Leeds United has been a very big part of my life,”
“I grew up around five minutes’ walk from Elland Road and started going there when I was just a kid,”
“Playing for Leeds was all I every wanted to do and with little else to do around here, football was always the dream. Alan Smith was from Rothwell and was a big inspiration when I was growing up,”
“I was a striker and scored loads of goals. I used to score seven or eight goals in a game, regularly. I would get the ball, take it round everyone and stick it in the net,”
“The teams I played for always won the league and cups and I was playing for Guiseley when I was scouted by Leeds. I was only 14 at the time and thought it was going to be the rest of my life,”
“I was devastated when Leeds released me and I got a disheartened playing for smaller clubs and was never the same player again,”
“I had been playing football since I was eight years old and to be honest I got a bit bored of it and felt I was going backwards,”
“I decided I needed a new career and a new challenge. I got myself into a bit of trouble in a few street fights and thought I had better learn how to fight.”
As Young remembers it, he was far from a natural.
“I was so nervous before my first white-collar fight,” said the 24-year-old, “because I hadn’t been training for very long and I thought I wasn’t very good.”
Young was still good enough to win on his debut – and he kept on winning.
He won all seven white-collar fights before deciding to turn professional with Michael Marsden.
He’s now won all four professional fights – one inside the distance – and in his last fight he made a return to Elland Road to fight in the Centenary Pavilion where he defeated MJ Hall on points.
Young had to take a job as a binman when he turned pro to make ends meet, but he quit that to pursue his dream of becoming a champion and to commit to training full-time. That hunger and desire, he believes, will take him to victory in Ultimate Boxxer.
“Ultimate Boxxer’ suits me down to the ground,”
“I love a good scrap and the fights are all three, three-minute rounds on the same night so I can go in there and really go for it,”
“I know the other lads in Ultimate Boxxer will all be hungry to win it, but I want to win this so much it hurts. I have to win it, I’m not going back to football or the bins, boxing is my life so I’m fighting for life,”
“Winning Ultimate Boxxer gives me a great chance to boost my career. When I saw Ricky Hatton, Paulie Malignaggi and Anthony Crolla at the launch of Ultimate Boxxer it made me realise just how massive this is going to be,”
“I’ve only had four fights and didn’t expect to get into something so big so soon. I thought I would be selling tickets to fight on small-hall shows for another year or two – and then Ultimate Boxxer came up,”
“Winning Ultimate Boxxer will give me opportunities that I would never get so early in my career. I can’t wait for it.”
Record: 4-0-0 (1 KO)
Amateur pedigree: None. He had seven white-collar fights and won the lot
Trainer: Michael Marsden
Cutman: Mick Marsden
Strengths: Aggression. He loves to fight.
Weaknesses: Is still a bit raw technically. Lacks ring experience Punch power: Only one KO, but he’s known as a volume puncher
Speed: Quick fisted and likes to let punches go
Stamina: Trainer Marsden says he can keep churning out punches for round after round
Anything else: Was with Leeds United FC’s Academy when he was a teenager
THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Football team: Leeds United.
Personal & Family life: “Currently single. I have two sisters, three half brothers and a half sister.”
Music: “I love everything from Frank Sinatra to rap.”
Fashion: “I wear designer clothes. I like to be smart.”
Shoes: “Gucci trainers or Nike.”
Toughest moment: “My white-collar debut. I had just started – and I felt I wasn’t very good.”
Best moment: “Fighting at Leeds Arena. I always wanted to box there. That was a real buzz.”
Aspirations: “To win Ultimate Boxxer and take it from there. I just take whatever fight (manager) Mick (Marsden) puts in front of me.”
Nutrition: “I’m sponsored by a clean-eating company and my mum makes sure I eat the right sort of foods.”
Family Make-up: “I live with my mum and dad.”
What got you into boxing? “I got bored of playing football and decided I needed a new challenge. I got into a few street fights and decided I had better learn how to fight.”
Who was your favourite fighter? “Mike Tyson.”
Amateur record and achievements? “I didn’t have any amateur bouts, just seven white collar and I won them all.”
What are your best assets as a fighter? “Aggression and workrate.”
What do you know about other fighters in Ultimate Boxxer? “I haven’t looked at them much. I just want to get in there and do my own thing.”
Goals in boxing? “Winning a belt would be good.”
Favourite TV show? Reality TV like Love Island and The Only Way Is Essex
Favourite meal when not in camp? I like a good gourmet burger and cheesecake
Hobbies? Golf in the summer and just being out with my mates for meals and nights out
Boxing bachelor Ben Eland is not only targeting the Ultimate Boxxer crown and prize money, but also hopes it will land him a girlfriend!
The unbeaten 28-year-old contender enters boxing’s fresh and exciting one night elimination contest on Friday 27th April at the Manchester Arena, but says being a boxing anorak has made it hard for him to find love.
Stoke’s Eland has done his pain-staking research on all his 147-pound rivals to find out their strengths and weaknesses in his bid to be crowned the first ever Ultimate Boxxer champion and capture life-changing prize money from a pool of £50,000.
Through watching YouTube videos, attending shows and reading up on the other competitors, combined with fights and training full-time, it has left him with no time for love and he hopes becoming the Ultimate Boxxer will change that.
He said, “Being a boxing junkie and focusing on my career and preparing for Ultimate Boxxer has meant that I’ve had to stay single,”
“Most weekends I go to a show, either amateur or pro, I’m either training or watching boxing on YouTube, or I’m sussing out my opponents by reading everything I can, it’s just that I’m a perfectionist in what I do and I prepare meticulously to win,”
“I’m single and ready to mingle. I’ve got two brothers and I share a house with one of them. We train together and live together – I can’t get rid of him!”
“I’ve tried speed dating but I was hopeless at that, but Ultimate Boxxer is like speed fighting and I know I’ve got the tools to win that and pick up the trophy, prize money and maybe a girlfriend along the way!”
Eland reckons his toughest opponent so far has been his own father.
“Growing up, I always wanted to box,” he said, “but my dad stood strong and wouldn’t let me, which I can understand,”
“But you can only say: ‘no’ for so long and in the end, he relented and I started at my local club and I’ve never looked back,”
Eland had a handful of amateur bouts for Retford ABC and took up the sport again after moving to Stoke around eight years ago.
“To start with, I just wanted to get fit,” he said, “but I ended up having a few unlicensed fights and then Former English Lightweight Champion Scott Lawton gave me a six-month trial,”
“He had me training alongside the pros so see how I shaped up and he must have been impressed because he ended up giving me a contract,”
Eland drew his pro debut –and has won all four since – and now will now count on strong support from his fans as he enters Ultimate Boxxer.
“Ever since I was an amateur, I’ve always had great support. I grew up in Ollerton in Nottinghamshire and it’s only a small community where everyone supports each other They are booking up hotels all over Manchester and I’m bringing plenty of support from Stoke as well,”
“This is a massive opportunity for me. I was looking to maybe step up to six rounds and now Ultimate Boxxer can launch me onto the bigger stage.”
Amateur pedigree: Had a handful of amateurs in his teens, then took a break and came back to have unlicensed fights before turning pro.
Trainer: Scott Lawton.
Cutman: Gareth Taylor.
Strengths: Flashy boxing skills.
Weaknesses: Can sometimes get dragged into a scrap when he could get the job done with his boxing.
Punch power: Not a dynamite puncher, but a sharp hitter.
Speed: Is slick. Sharp hands, good feet.
Stamina: Has yet to go beyond four rounds.
Anything else: Should have plenty of support from Nottinghamshire, where he grew up, and Stoke, where he’s lived for the last eight years.
Walk on music: ‘Jerk It Out’ by Caesars Palace.
THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW
Music: “Indie band The Twang. I go to watch them when I can.”
Fashion: “I like getting dressed up, but I spend a lot of time in tracksuits.”
Shoes: “I’ve got a cracking pair of brogues, but I’m an Adidas man really.”
Personal & Family life: “I’m single”
Toughest moment: “I’ve broken my knuckle twice and it’s hard to stay disciplined when that happens and when fights fall through.”
Best moment: “My pro debut. Walking out with my dad and brother was some moment.”
Aspirations: “I want to take it one step at a time. The first step is the Midlands title and once I have that, I will see what the next step is.”
Nutrition: “I’m pretty good when it comes to what I eat. I don’t eat junk food anymore.”
Family Make-up: “We are a close family. I live with one of my brothers and I’m close to my dad.”
What got you into boxing? “My dad was a good amateur and I wanted to go to the gym. He wouldn’t let me for years – and when he finally gave in, I went to Retford ABC and never looked back.”
Who was your favourite fighter? “Kevin Mitchell. He’s one of the best British fighters to never win a world title.”
Amateur record and achievements? “I had 10 senior bouts – and won seven.”
Who’s the best boxer you have sparred? “I sparred Tyrone Nurse just after I turned pro and it was tough.”
What are your best assets as a fighter? “People say it’s my jab – but I think it’s my never-say-die attitude. I like it when it gets tough in there.”
What do you know about other fighters in Ultimate Boxxer? “They are all good lads and will be up for winning it, but I’m fit, prepared and hungry to win,”
Goals in boxing? “Short term is to win Ultimate Boxxer, long term who knows what could come way afterwards?”
Favourite TV show: “Peaky Blinders.”
Favourite meal when not in camp? “Chinese. You can’t beat sweet and sour chicken.”
Hobbies? “Boxing is my hobby too ! I go to all the amateur and pro shows.”