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Sheffield boxing: The ‘new Naseem Hamed’ quits with depression after death of pal and machete attack on brother

Nicki Smedley in action
Nicki Smedley in action
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Nicki Smedley - once branded as the next Naseem Hamed - has officially retired from boxing, because of depression.

The 32-year-old Sheffielder - once an English title contender - has suffered with mental health problems after a series of personal tragedies.

Now he says there is little chance of returning to the ring as he struggles with his demons.

Smedley’s misfortunes started with the death of his best friend David Bunn, 26, of Woodthorpe.

“I used to see him every day, we were like brothers” said Smedley. “Then he died in his sleep, nobody knew why.

“It hit me hard and I couldn’t shake it off, his death, and other things, really depressed me.”

Smedley went on medication yet decided to box in November 2015, beating Duane Green, at Doncaster Dome.

The points win didn’t spur him on to continue the return, though.

“I dedicated the fight to Bunny, but you need to be 100 per cent focused, in training, I tried but I couldn’t keep my mind on the sport” the father of two said.

Another blow came his way, when his brother Luke, also a boxer, was slashed across the arm by a machete-wielding thug outside the High Noon pub in Woodthorpe, in 2016.

Luke Smedley in hospital just hours after he was slashed with a machete outside the High Noon pub in Woodthorpe. The amatuer boxer was in the process of starting his professional career in the ring.

Luke Smedley in hospital just hours after he was slashed with a machete outside the High Noon pub in Woodthorpe. The amatuer boxer was in the process of starting his professional career in the ring.

“Luke’s arm was almost chopped off, the man who did it went to prison for five years but my brothers till needs three or four more operations” said Smedley, who said there were other personal, negative issues going on which were currently affecting him.

“I decided to retire the sport because I know I can’t do it (training and boxing) any more, with everything that has happened over the past few years.

“There are too many things in my head to even start to concentrate on boxing. I am gutted I have to retire.

“I see the doctor and am on medication, but it is horrible.

Nigel Wright vs Nicki Smedley

Nigel Wright vs Nicki Smedley

“There was a time when Naseem Hamed’s brothers tipped me to becoming the next Naz.

“Naz, himself, once wanted to sign me after he saw me smash his fighter (Billy Dib) to bits in sparring.

“But if you cannot give everything to boxing, you have to get out.”

The former super welterweight had just 16 fights, winning all but one.

His single defeat came in 2011 when Nigel Wright outpointed him at Hillsborough Leisure Centre to win the English championship.

David Bunn - died in his sleep

David Bunn - died in his sleep