A Sheffield man born with a hole in his heart hopes to be an inspiration to others when he steps in the ring for his first professional boxing fight.
Tommy Frank, aged 23, will take on Slovakian Leonard Rafael at Magna Science Adventure Centre tomorrow (July 30).
The journey to the squared circle has not been easy for the Intake resident, who had an operation to correct a hole in the heart when he was just five years old.
But spurred on by his parents Christine and Kevin, he threw himself into sport and is now ready to take up boxing as a full-time career.
Speaking before today’s weigh-in he said: “Training has been going absolutely brilliant. I’m feeling better and stronger than ever. I’m just really excited.”
Tommy has been a regular at the Sheffield Boxing Centre in Hillsborough since he was 12.
During an impressive amateur career he won the Yorkshire belt a number of times, with a record of 23 wins and 22 defeats as he learned his sport.
The flyweight is now ready to step up to the next level.
“Since I started boxing at 12, turning professional has always been in my mind. It’s been a long time coming, a long road, but I’m here now.
“I’m always in the gym, always fit and always ready. The opportunity to fight came up and I took it with both hands.”
Tommy’s parents, his trainer and manager Glyn Rhodes MBE, and plenty of friends and family will be at ringside tomorrow.
Also keeping a close eye on the fight will be the Yorkshire-based national charity Heart Research UK, for which Tommy is an ambassador.
“My heart trouble was something that happened when I was younger,” he said.
“I am not a superstar yet, but I’m hoping that a child with heart problems can look up to me and realise there are really no limitations on how to succeed in sport. If I can inspire one kid to better themselves then I feel I will have achieved something.”
Tommy will appear on a bill promoted by Dennis Hobson. Tickets are available on 01142 434443.
Today’s top stories: