Gym sweeper-up is a millionaire!

Business man and boxing fan Carl Luckock at St Thomas Boys Club at Wincobank
Business man and boxing fan Carl Luckock at St Thomas Boys Club at Wincobank
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HE’S the millionaire who sweeps up after some of the city’s most deprived kids.

The former football club director who sold his car dealership to become a corner man for Sheffield boxing hopefuls.

Carl Luckock could be travelling the world, playing the stock market or sunning himself on a faraway beach.

But, for the past five-and-a-half years, 63-year-old Carl has been going to Wincobank every day to clean up St Thomas’s gym.

Why?

“It’s a real privilege for me to be able to come here,” said Carl, a former Rotherham United board member.

“I have been coming for about 30 years to train at the gym but I have been here helping every day since I sold my business in 2005.

“I came down one day and saw some lads handing over their subs and it looked a bit haphazard so I asked if I could help organise it.

“I’ve not missed a day here for five years since.

“The place has a certain buzz about it and a lot of characters come in here. You just don’t know what’s going to happen from day to day.”

Most of the kids who go to the gym will never be champions – many won’t even be boxers – but a lot of them will learn the life skills and respect that legendary boxing coach Brendan Ingle offers – with the help of people like Carl who knows a thing or two about tough up-bringings.

He grew up in Eastwood and East Dene in Rotherham, the son of a steelworker in a family where spare cash was in short supply.

“I’m in the fortunate position where I don’t have to earn money any more, said Carl, who now lives in Greasbrough with his wife Sue.

“But my mum and dad Edgar and Mary Luckock had a struggle. My dad had emphysema and my mum used to clean the Hope Inn at Eastwood. It used to break my heart but we needed the money. She got 27/- a week.

“My grandad was a real rogue, Tommy South of Masbrough. People will remember him. He would never give my gran any money and I promised when I was a little boy I would give her my first week’s wages.

“When I got my first packet – £3.17s.6d – I took it round to her as I said I would. She was really tearful and always remembered it. About 35 years later, after she died, we were clearing her house and found the wage slip from that day. She’d saved it all that time.”

Carl’s first job was sweeping up and making tea at Tate’s Lambretta dealership in Rotherham, one he later ran with his uncle under his uncle’s name Derek G Pike.

They took over a Fiat Franchise in 1973 just before Derek died. Carl bought the business and in 1990 it became the Peugeot franchise that Carl ran successfully until 2005 when he sold up.

“I think to myself at times: ‘Blimey, I never thought I’d end up doing this’. But I’m a hands-on person. I’m not good at writing letters or reading books but I’ve got a lot of knowledge from watching and learning.

“It can be funny and sad at the gym. People are forced to retire when you thought they might be champions and you see others make something of themselves that you never expected.

“This is not just about boxing. It helps kids with a lot of problems, mental and emotional weaknesses or character flaws they might have.

“We had one lad who came in a few years ago, aged 14, he was 18 stone, he couldn’t look anyone in the eye or talk to anybody. But, with diet and training, we helped him get down to 12st 8lbs. He feels so much better about himself and is a decent boxer.

“We have kids who have been bullied and don’t know how to respond, we don’t advocate going back and thumping the bully but, we like to give them the confidence to deal with it.”

So is he happy to carry on sweeping?

“I don’t have many regrets in life – I sold my business at the right time.

“My only ambition now is to be in the corner when one of our boxers wins a world title – it would be be such a thrill.”

But if that day never dawns Carl will still be at the gym.

“I will keep doing this for as long as I can. I go to Hellaby Hall in the mornings and train and do some weights and running, go in the steam room then have lunch. Then I come to Brendan’s to help in the gym.

“I started as a sweeper up and I’ve finished as one,” laughs Carl.

“As long as I can be useful I will be coming here.”