Sheffield boxing: Who is the man behind the mask?

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Mason Dickinson presents a dark image straight from a horror film when he storms into the boxing ring, wearing a chilling mask.

But who is the man behind the mask? Why does he wear it? And what does he hope to achieve in boxing when the mask comes off?

There is certainly more to this 23-year-old Sheffield teaching assistant than meets the eye.

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The Sheffield United-loving super welterweight will be looking for his fifth professional win on July 13 when he competes against Dale Arrowsmith over six rounds at Sheffield’s Skate Central on a Dennis Hobson bill.

Below, Mason, who lives on The Manor estate and attended St Theresa’s primary school and Outwood Academy City, responds to a question and answer session conducted by student journalist Thomas Bourke.

Q: How are preparations going for fight?

A: Really well, everything is falling into place. I think the extra two rounds (this will be Mason’s first six rounder) will suit me more. The longer-distance fights suit me, they allow me to evaluate a fighter instead of a four-round sprint. I can take my time and expose his weaknesses.

Q: As a 23-year-old, you are fighting journeymen. These fights serve as an apprenticeship, what have you learned so far?

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Mason DickinsonMason Dickinson
Mason Dickinson

A: My team has matched me really well in terms of experience. My opponents like Jordan Grannum for example, (last opponent) his record might not be the best, but if you look at his losses, they are close battles every single time.

He comes to test you and see how good you really are. I know Dale Arrowsmith will look to do the same, he's a very well-respected journeyman.

He’s had over 100 bouts and that's not someone to play around with. He is a lot better than his record (6-106-5) says so I cannot underestimate him.

Q: How did you got into boxing?

Mason Dickinson, Dennis Hobson, John Fewkes and team Pic Connor McMain via GBM SportsMason Dickinson, Dennis Hobson, John Fewkes and team Pic Connor McMain via GBM Sports
Mason Dickinson, Dennis Hobson, John Fewkes and team Pic Connor McMain via GBM Sports

A: I was about seven years old when I started. I had a go at most sports and returned to boxing when I was 11. I was not too confident as a kid.

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But as I attended boxing class more I saw my ability and my confidence grow. I then started taking it more seriously, doing contact training. When I started boxing amateur at around 14 I stopped my first opponent and went on to have 28 amateur bouts. I was lucky enough to compete all around the country, I fought in two different Box Cups and achieved silver medals in both.

But it was tough, I met AJ (Anthony Joshua) at a dinner show and he told me: “Never let the wins get to your head, make sure you remain grounded”. That advice has stuck with me.

Q: Who were your favourite fighters growing up?

Mason Dickinson: Blades fanMason Dickinson: Blades fan
Mason Dickinson: Blades fan

A: The first boxer I remember watching was Liam Cameron (who fights former IBO world champion Lyndon Arthur on June 21). I liked watching the local guys like Sam Sheedy and Tommy Frank. I also watched AJ during the Olympics, that was a core memory of mine.

Q: Your trainer John Fewkes at Titans boxing gym - does he teach you all the dos and don'ts?

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A: 100 percent, he was literally doing it yesterday, telling me and the other guys at the gym that he had all these opportunities but he let bad friends get into his head. He is always teaching me life lessons both in and out of boxing. He’s taught me discipline.

Q: What do you do away from the gym?

MD: I am a teaching assistant at a Brantwood Specialist School (Nether Edge), working with Special Education Needs children. It really suits me as a person, it allows me to understand various backgrounds and situations and how children can achieve their best when things are adapted for them.

The school is also really supportive about my boxing career.

Q: So what does your day-to-day look like then?

A: I will wake up around 5am and go for a run. Then I go to work. After work it's straight to the gym after getting some food. I train six days a week, I love the routine. It brings the best out of me.

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Q: Tell me about that mask that you wear during your ring walks?

A: It’s the Sub-Zero mask from Mortal Kombat (video game.) It was motivated by Deontay Wilder, when I saw him wear his, it gave him an aura and I thought: 'Wow, I want that too.' When people see me in it they think “he's different”, they want to watch.

Q: Who would compare your fighting style to?

A: A lot of people compare me to Clinton Woods, which is a massive compliment. I do enjoy watching and studying his fights. I like to fight in a relaxed state, because if I am relaxed I can deal with the pressure.

I like the overall Sheffield style, not necessarily the showboating but being calm and relaxed, just like the old Brendan Ingle style.

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I like to study their footwork and still do it now. I feel footwork is underappreciated a lot these days.

Q: How did you team up with Dennis Hobson?

A: I first met Dennis when I was about seven. My dad [Graham] used to take me to boxing shows and Dennis would be there.

He used to joke:“When you get older, I am going to sign you”, so we have come full circle.

Dennis is a very good scout for talent, and isn't just focused on the money.

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He’s given me some great opportunities so far, like fighting in Malta. I am very close with Dennis and very grateful for these opportunities. We are going to go to the top together.

Q: What are your boxing aspirations?

A: For now, I want to continue getting rounds in, fighting a range of different styles.

I want to work my way up slowly and when my team feels I am ready, I want to win regional, British, Commonwealth belts etc.

If we do it the right way I believe I can go all the way.

As a Sheffield United fan, I would love to fight for a world title at Bramall Lane. I was there when Kell Brook fought Errol Spence Jr at Bramall Lane, it was one of the best nights I have had in boxing. I want to be remembered as one of these great Sheffield boxers that people always talk about, like Prince Naseem Hamed and Clinton. I want to be a part of this city’s history.