One man show for ages five and over about love, loss, family and boxing in Sheffield

Writer and performer and keen amateur boxer Oliver Sykes, 33, has a real triumph against the odds story.
Oliver Sykes in Alfie's Firt Fight, at The Montgomery on Saturday, February 18Oliver Sykes in Alfie's Firt Fight, at The Montgomery on Saturday, February 18
Oliver Sykes in Alfie's Firt Fight, at The Montgomery on Saturday, February 18

His first touring children's theatre show Alfie's First Fight is touring theatres and boxing clubs and is at The Montgomery in Sheffield on Saturday, February 18.

It is a one man show for ages five and over about love, loss, family and of course boxing

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Inspired by writer and performer Oliver’s own experiences growing up without a mum and being coached as an amateur boxer by his dad, the show tells the story of shy twelve-year-old Alfie.

When Alfie's older brother Jacob goes missing moments before the Golden Gloves Championship - the biggest boxing match of his life - he puts his fears aside and goes to investigate.

Who are the bear-like Big Man and the cigar-smoking Posh Man? What do they want with Jacob? And how will anyone ever compete in the ring against ultimate teenage warrior, the Boy Giant?

On the surface, it's a simple adventure story about goodies and baddies and the drama of the boxing ring. But Alfie's First Fight is also about love, loss, family and learning how to fight for what you want.

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Newcomer Oliver, who was born in Chapel en le Frith, near Buxton, delivers punchy, high energy storytelling with just the right amount of audience participation - and wears real boxing gloves whilst he does it.

For Oliver, 33, who grew up a keen amateur boxer, it's a very personal tale. One of six siblings, he was brought up in poverty in rural Derbyshire by a single-parent dad.

His family lived on a council estate on the breadline, receiving clothing donations from local charities, income support and free school meals.Inspired to aim high by his book-loving dad, Oliver went on to graduate with a first from Lancaster University.

Via the Jerwood creative bursaries scheme, ring-fenced for high-achieving arts graduates from low-income families, he took on a paid internship at Contact theatre in Manchester and became a theatre and creative project producer.

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He has now turned his hand to writing and live performance. Alfie's First Fight is based on Oliver's first book of the same name, which was published in 2022 by Manchester Metropolitan University and Stories of Care. His second book, Fishing For Rainbows, comes out spring 2023.

Oliver said: "Alfie's First Fight is the kind of tale that you don't very often see on stage.

"It's a relatable, working class story about a loving and supportive non-traditional family who love boxing.

"Alfie's First Fight is a story about coming of age, fighting our fears and being who we always wanted to be.

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"It will appeal to everyone who has ever felt like the underdog but has gone full throttle for the win regardless."

Alfie's First Fight is supported by Manchester Libraries, Manchester City Council, Read Manchester, Stories Of Care, Manchester Children's Book Festival and Z-Arts, and was developed using public funding from Arts Council England.

Alfie's First Fight is The Montgomery, Surrey St, S1 2LG, on Saturday 18 February at 11am and 2pm.

Tickets £7.50 with reductions for family groups.

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