Amer Khan remembers the day new world champion Kell Brook first strolled into the Ingle gym.
Khan, a Sheffield southpaw who retired in 2007, was 13 years old when the cocky nine year old first arrived.
It was quite an entrance for the boy who took Shawn Porter’s IBF welterweight belt off him on Sunday.
“Kell walked in with his dad on a Saturday. Brendan (Ingle) got everyone doing a roll in the ring. A chubby Kell, with his bushy hair, walked on his hands then did a series of flips finishing off with a back flip! Brendan said he’d become world champion. That was 20 years ago!”
Khan, a prizefighter turned Derbyshire firefighter, added: “Everyone knew he had talent, Naseem Hamed gave him some leopard-print shorts. We had wars every day and I was four stones heavier!”
Amer says his near-namesake Amir Khan would stand little chance against Brook: “Kell would stand Amir on his head all day long.”
Tom Mcassey, who predicted Brook would be champ in The Star in 2012, said: “Usually when we go running I leave Kell behind but in our last run he smoked me away; he was a machine! Kell’s boxed for that long it’s as natural for him to be in a ring as it is walking. His main attributes are timing and power; that’s what shook Porter up, the way his face was marked-up tells the story. Kell pushed his body to the limit to ensure he came back with that title.”
Atif Shafiq, who joined Brook’s camp in America, said: “What made Kell champ was he wanted it more. All the hard work he’d put in over 16 weeks showed as he came on strong in the second half.”
Former world champ Clinton Woods agreed: “Kell was the stronger; his jab was terrific, his will-to-win fantastic. To go over to his opponent’s back yard and put on that display is something I’d have wished for. There are massive fights out there for Kell and his fantastic team.”
Jon Buster Keeton: “Two years ago, I didn’t believe in Kell; I thought he’d lose his drive and direction. Then I witnessed one of his last workouts before leaving: what a change! His condition and the fire in his eyes gave me goose bumps! He proved me wrong, big time. Dominic Ingle did a great mentor’s job, too.”
David Coldwell: “This fight was all about grit and determination. Kell kept a cool head and didn’t let the occasion or Porter’s reputation get to him. I was so impressed with how the team kept him in the right frame of mind during fight-week too. He was hit with many body shots but never lost focus. He showed maturity; I’m so proud of the kid.”
Curtis Woodhouse: “He landed the better quality shots and dug in when Porter tried to stick it on him. Bring on Khan at Bramall Lane!”
Lee Connelly: Kell became a champion by keeping his composure and going in with confidence. He has showed he has a lot of ambition and I think after some big fights falling through he was ready to prove a point and to make Britain and Sheffield proud. Inspiring!”
Richard Poxon: “They had a plan and stuck to it. They had ups and downs, including the cut but handled everything. Porter didn’t try anything different as the fight went along. It must be sweet for Kell because on the web forums, people have questioned his heart and desire and whether or not he could perform at that level. There are some big fights out there for him now and he should take them. He’s in his prime so why hang around?”
Lewis Taylor: “He has achieved what every boxer wants to achieve. He has had so many set backs with injuries but he has done Sheffield proud.”
Glyn Rhodes: “Kell’s win sends out a message to all young boxers about staying in the gym and being fit. He wouldn’t be bullied by Porter. He showed character; that what won him the fight. Now he’s put himself in line for some big pay days. A fight with Khan would be another Wembley stadium show.”
Ross Burkinshaw: “Growing up along side Kell through the amateurs and professionally I know he has never changed he’s always been a down to earth kid who believed in his dream. He is an inspiration.”
Liam Cameron: “Kell went into the lion’s den weathered the storm and stuck to a good game plan to box his way to a win.”
Jon Kays: “Kell put on a fantastic, world class performance. He kept his focus and composure - an absolute quality display.”