Heartwarming: Former Sheffield boxing champion helps cerebral palsy victim deal with his condition...in the ring
They call him Smokin' Shaun.
And while Sheffield boxing has had more than its fair share of heartbreak recently, following the death of Scott Westgarth, the sport has certainly been a blessing for one city sports fan.
Shaun Barker, aged 27, suffers from cerebral palsy and has to try and overcome movement difficulties in his daily life.
Yet he loves being put through his paces by trainer and former WBO European, Commonwealth and English champion Ross Burkinshaw at the BossBoxFit gym in Handsworth.
Shaun, who lives in Crookes, said he initially heard about the gym from his support worker.
He tried it - and loved it.
He said the exercise “helps me improve my disability and gets me out to meet people.”
Shaun, whose favourite boxer is Sheffield’s former world champion Kell Brook, added: “I enjoy keeping fit, Ross is very good at his job and my favourite shot is left (hook.)
Sheffield United and Sheffield Steelers fan Shaun is in training at Burkinshaw’s gym in Richmond Park Rd, for a white collar boxing match at Rotherham’s New York stadium on May 18, when he will be in the ring to help raise money for Hallam FM Cash for Kids.
Burkinshaw said: “I take my hat off to this kid Shaun for not letting his disability, cerebral palsy get the better of him.
“His carer told me it was his dream to box, so I thought to myself - why not? We can make this happen and it is a pleasure to help him achieve that.
“I’m told that he needs to build up his muscles and we can do that, we are focusing on his legs and arms and doing everything we can to help him improve his movement.
“He came in walking with the aid of a stick but we’ve got him walking without, around the gym. He loves it. Shaun will be in the ring first in our May show in Rotherham and he just can’t wait.”
Meanwhile, the nation’s boxing administrators are evaluating a new handheld brain scanner that could be used by ringside doctors. The British Boxing Board of Control is supervising trials of the device being carried out by the London Air Ambulance.
The scanner can apparently detect brain bleeds with an accuracy of 90%, often before any symptoms such as headaches become apparent. The move is being backed by Westgarth’s brother Adam, who believes all professional shows should have a scanner available.