Long road travelled for Coldwell

FIFTEEN years on and Dave Coldwell still remembers the night well.

He was appearing in an amateur match, ostensibly a routine bout for this handy junior fighter.

On his way to the ring, Coldwell froze. He had spotted in the audience the bullies who had made his schoolyard days a misery.

As he threatened to pull out, future world champion Naseem Hamed – then in his early professional days – and other members of Brendan Ingle's gym in Wincobank, Sheffield, persuaded the 5ft 3in teenager to face his demons.

Coldwell was 17 then. Now, aged 32, he does the motivating, as the only the only trainer in Britain with two current British champions in his stable - Ecclesfield's Ryan Rhodes and Hillsborough's Kell Brook.

Rotherham-based Coldwell, also a successful promoter working for world cruiserweight champion David Haye's Hayemaker Boxing outfit, has come a long way since that evening of emotional turmoil at an exhibition match at Sheffield's Colley WMC.

"I can't believe what I have done, how my life is now. But I wouldn't change anything that happened in the past," said Coldwell.

"It proves that you can't count anyone out. Over the years, when I got my trainer's and manager's licences, people said, 'Who is Dave Coldwell? He'll do nothing'.

"But now I've made myself a career in boxing. I've turned out two British champions, got people title shots and big money fights.

"I've been a success," Coldwell added, "because I can say I have made a difference to a fighter's future."

And this could just be the beginning. Coldwell is this week finalising arrangements for Hayemaker's first show, in Sheffield, on September 20, which will be broadcast live on television as part of the promotion outfit's 10-fight deal with Setanta Sports.

David Haye's promotional firm Hayemaker signed a five-year deal with Oscar de La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions outfit in May, and the two camps hope their combined clout could eventually challenge the promotions superpower that is Frank Warren's Sports Network?

Coldwell, Hayemaker's head of boxing, is confident it will. "We are rivals, but this is great for the sport," he said. "It's not always good to have one person controlling everything – it puts the sport in a vulnerable position."

Hayemaker, meanwhile, is in a "fabulous position" for the future, Coldwell asserted. "Our partnership with Golden Boy in the US means our fighters can go to LA and fight over there, and their fighters can come over for shows held in Britain. We will put great shows on for the fans and that's great for boxing."

But Warren, who has managed Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe to world titles and lists top British fighters including Danny Williams and Amir Khan on his books, has a foothold in Coldwell's stable.

Coldwell, a former Central Area flyweight champion title during his own pro-career of 19 fights, learned his managerial ropes through Koncrete Promotions and co-promoted numerous shows with Sports Network.

As a result, Ecclesfield middleweight Ryan Rhodes is managed jointly by Warren and Coldwell. Coldwell began training Kell Brook, along with Rhodes, 3 years ago, but the welterweight title-holder is managed by Warren.

Although Warren has a reputation for being a fiercely competitive businessman, loyal to his patch, Sports Network have said they are happy for Coldwell to continue training Brook, even though he has joined another promotions firm in Hayemaker.

Barnsley greenhorn Josh Wale is so far the only Coldwell-trained fighter who has been signed by the Hayemaker-Golden Boy package

Last week, a new gym set-up by Hayemaker in Cyprus opened its doors and the 20-year-old fighter is heading there this month.

Brampton-born Josh is a talent that has caught Coldwell's eye.

"He (Josh) is definitely what I would call a TV fighter," said Coldwell. "He will get crowds and journalists going and he's a phenomenal prospect, with an exciting career ahead," he added.

Just before Coldwell licks his lips at the prospect of his third British champion, he admits that Josh, at 20, is still "a baby". "He'll definitely be British champion, but needs a bit of time yet. Give him 12 months and he'll be more than a match for the likes of Esham Pickering and Bernard Dunne."

Rotherham-born Coldwell has also sought inspiration as a trainer-cum-promoter closer to home. Dennis Hobson, of Fight Academy, arranged Clinton Woods' first fight at Pinegrove Country Club in Sheffield in November 1994.

"People would have laughed at him (Hobson) when he was at Pinegrove, if it was suggested that he'd go on to turn out a future IBF world champion, which he did in Clinton Woods," Coldwell said.

Far from suffering a lull in the wake of Woods and Junior Witter's world title losses to US fighters Antonio Tarver and Timothy Bradley, Coldwell believes Sheffield could have six major title-holders by the end of next year.

"People are already writing off Clinton, but if he wins his next fight he's right back in the mix for a world title. He was a respected world title-holder, so one of the big fighters would have to face him.

"It's same with Junior. He will hopefully win back his European title soon and then people will have to come to the table."

With Norfolk Park lightweight John Fewkes – trained by Glyn Rhodes – tipped by Coldwell as Sheffield's next British champion, that leaves Josh Wale to make it six in around 12 months' time.

"We could have five champions by the end of this year, and six by 2009, which would be a phenomenal achievement and make Sheffield the new fight capital of Britain," he said.

So what is Sheffield doing right? "The trainers in Sheffield are very focused," Coldwell said. "Many of the fighters here are also close to their trainers, which gives a good foundation for their career.

"Many people think the fighter is working for the trainer, but really the trainer should be working for the fighter.

Reflecting on one boxer he knows of, a Mexican five-time world Champion but one who didn't make any money and later had to apply for a job as a caretaker, Coldwell said it was important fighters got what they can out the sport.

"It's their careers, they only have one chance and the fighters need to be involved, whether their goal is to become world champion or just to make come money and not get too hurt.

"Each fighter has got one chance. He's got to go out and do what he thinks is best, he's got to be selfish.

But aside from money and the chance for a shot at titles, it was an altogether different force that first brought Sheffield's current talent to the sport – the same force that helped Coldwell at Colley WMC as a 17-year-old.

"Naz (Naseem Hamed) is the big influence, a massive idol for the likes of Fewkesy and Brook," Coldwell concluded. "They are all feeding off it.

"The people winning titles for both me and Sheffield now all watched Naz when they were younger."

What do you think? Post your comments below.


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