Cage is all the rage

Cage fighter Lanus Jones against Daniel Sliwoski in action at Barnsley Metrodome
Cage fighter Lanus Jones against Daniel Sliwoski in action at Barnsley Metrodome
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IT is the gruesome, blood-splattered sport where opponents regularly batter each other until one lies unconscious and which was once compared to human cockfighting.

He, on the other hand, is a former teacher who specialised in GCSE English at Oakwood Technology College, Rotherham.

But Mick Bower’s secret passion for cage fighting - an activity which is so violent it was banned for many years in most American states - meant he would sit in his classroom dreaming of the sport.

Now, after leaving the profession to submerge himself in the game, he has become one of the country’s leading authorities on it.

The 44-year-old - a one-time amateur boxer - has been so successful writing for a variety of international magazines, he has just set up his own publishing company dedicated to combat sports, and launched it with his own book, Bloody Revolution. It is, he says, the first ever published history of British cage fighting.

“I just love it,” says the father-of-two of Sandringham Avenue, Whiston, Rotherham. “It’s the ultimate sport - the ultimate test of a man’s strength, agility and spirit.

“It has a reputation for being violent, and it obviously is, but it’s also very safe and honest. It is considered fringe at the moment but I’d love to be able to help push it into the mainstream.”

Mick, it has to be said, looks more like a cage fighter than a teacher. If you were in his class you’d make sure you did your homework.

But his book - an adventure recounting tales of meeting everyone from Michael Portillo to Katie Price cage side - reads like the work of an expert author.

“I enjoyed teaching but I was a massive Mixed Martial Arts fan and I would find myself reading magazines like Fighters Only and Fight Sport thinking ‘I could do better than this’,” says Mick. “So when I got the chance to write for them it was a bit of a gamble leaving school but it was one I had to take.”

He handed in his notice after just two years and crossed his fingers it would work out.

It did.

Mick, who also attended Oakwood as a pupil - he left with one O-Level, a reputation as a bruiser and was as shocked as the teachers who had taught him to find himself back there almost 20 years later - has become something of a confidante to a number of the fighters.

“I’ll be cageside and a fighter will come up and say ‘Mick I’m fighting this fellow tonight, what’s his style?’” he says. “That always surprises me but it’s nice to be of help.”

One such fighter is South Yorkshire’s own rising star Lanus Jones.

The 25-year-old, of Great Houghton, Barnsley, who has won seven out of seven professional fights and who features in the book, says: “Mick’s a legend, that’s the only way to describe him.”

n Bloody Revolution: A Journey Into UK MMA, by Mick Bower, is released by Gutdor this week.