Boxing comment: RIP Sheffield boxer Scott Westgarth, whose death is announced this morning

Scott Westgarth, left, with Tommy FrankScott Westgarth, left, with Tommy Frank
Scott Westgarth, left, with Tommy Frank
Boxers, frequently, have an edginess about them.

It's in their eyes.They possess an inner darkness needed to take themselves to a bad place - a hidden reserve required to take their opponent somewhere even worse.Out of the ring, I never got that impression about Scott Westgarth, at all.Such was his lust for life, his brightness of personality and engaging chatter, he just didn't seem like your normal boxer.Look at his colourful back-story: a travelling Geordie with no amateur boxing career, who once made his living as a ski and snow board instructor. Scott then discovered a love of boxing at the ripe old age of 24...and just had to follow the dream.He supplemented his income by working as a chef at Sheffield's Royal Victoria Holiday Inn.All done with a smile on his face.At Sheffield Boxing Centre, where people with character and a sense of humour quickly fit in, he fast became part of the sweat-stained furniture.Glyn Rhodes, who trained and mentored him, had spotted something in him soon after he arrived on his Hillsborough doorstep.

The 31-year-old enjoyed working with him and set about developing his latent talent, as he trained alongside the likes of his buddies Carl Wild, Sam Sheedy and Tommy Frank.Such was the speed of Scott's progress, that his fight on Saturday was an official eliminator for a crack at the English light heavyweight championship.Tragically, Scott's 10th fight, against Scunthrope's Dec Spelman, 26, at Doncaster Dome, was to be his last.It's a gut-churning irony that a boxer can be victorious in a contest, but hours later lose his life.The loss to his family, friends and gym is incalculable.There are no words to cover the suffering which is being endured, right now, as you read this.The SBC Unit - as the gym brands itself - will not be the same for a long, long time. Maybe never.On a personal note, I cannot get out of my mind the last words Scott spoke to me: "Boxing is about taking risks and I will take them.” He had been referring to the calculated gamble of fighting over 10 rounds for the first time, against a quality opponent ahead of him in the rankings.But his quote resonates cruelly, today, as the sport heads into its latest period of self-analysis and soul-searching.Inevitably, we will be asking whether or not boxing should be banned.If you'd have asked me on Saturday morning, I'd have offered the rehearsed argument that the fight game is good for 99.9 per cent of combatants and brings discipline, confidence and belief to youngsters coming from often deprived backgrounds.Today, I couldn't find it in me to even consider the question.For all those much more intimately involved than me, I feel desperate and empty. This week had been earmarked as a significant one for Sheffield boxing, with its favourite son Kell Brook, due to fight at the Arena on Saturday in the next episode of Kell's fabulous career.The show, I suppose, must go on. But if I am honest, it doesn't feel right that it does.Yet maybe it is the perfect vehicle to pay a solemn and genuine tribute to the memory of Scott Westgarth, a good boxer and a truly memorable person.

*A website address has been set up to support Scott's family.

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