Ross Burkinshaw has become the latest member of an exclusive boxing club.
He is the third Commonwealth champion from Sheffield to have started off at an amateur gym in Hillsborough.
Burkinshaw, a former soldier, defeated Doncaster’s Jason Cunningham at the Dome last Saturday night to land the title.
“It was a fantastic moment for me - but I couldn’t help thinking about how it all started” said Burkinshaw. “My first gym was Ray Gillett’s Hillsborough Boys Club - the same place that put Paul “Silky” Jones and Clinton Woods on their way to their Commonwealth titles (both 1997.)
“After I’d won it, I thought to myself I’d never forget where I came from: Ray’s gym, all the great years with Glyn Rhodes and now training with Ryan Rhodes.
“Ryan has added a few tweaks to my game on top of what Glyn taught me and we had a proper game plan against Jason. Jason is a very skilful boxer and we decided to split the match up into three lot of four rounds. The idea was to start calmly behind my jab, mix it up in the second lot and then go to school.
“Actually I started a bit fast, had a few problems in the middle rounds but finished strongly. Jason was holding on and the marks on my face - and three stitches in the back of my head - were more clash of heads than any punches. I had self-belief and my family behind me - I knew I was going to win despite only having three days preparation.”
Afterwards, there was no belt available to present to Burkinshaw.
“But former Commonwealth featherweight John Jo Irwin, who lives in Doncaster, went home to fetch me his belt, which was great of him. And the first call I got on Sunday morning was from Silky - he knew I’d be up at 7am! What a great way to start as champion! Now I have got all the motivation I need to carry on now.”
Burkinshaw had been planning to drop down to super flyweight, but will now defend his Bantam title against Martin Ward.