Keanen Wainwright: Former Sheffield United youngster and son of ex-Blade managed by Chris Wilder eyes first boxing title
There are plenty of links between Sheffield United and the sport of boxing, not least Curtis Woodhouse, but the Wainwright family could give the former British champion a run for his money.
While the Blades boast plenty of fans who could look after themselves, including Kell Brook, who boxed at Bramall Lane in 2017, British flyweight champion Tommy Frank and former Commonwealth champion Liam Cameron, their strongest association with boxing is through their former skipper.
But if 23-year-old Keanen Wainwright makes the grade in the ring, he could wrestle that title from Woodhouse’s grip.
The Parson Cross fighter (6-1, three knockouts) is the son of former Sheffield United youngster Lee, who remembers playing alongside Chris Wilder before being released at the end of the 1993/94 season and continuing his footballing journey in New Zealand.
Wilder would later manage Wainwright snr, now 47, at Sunday league side Bradway and thanked the former centre-half for his good-luck message while he was manager of the Blades.
Nicknamed 'The Wolf', Keanen is a dyed-in-the-wool Unitedite who spent 12 months on trial with the club’s academy in 2013 – Dominic Calvert-Lewin played in the age group above him and Jorome Anthony-Lewin Slew was briefly a team-mate – while his brother Mcauley, 25, also had a spells with Sheffield United and Barnsley as a youngster.
"I support Sheffield United because they gave my dad a chance when he was young,” said Keanen, who fights for the vacant Central Area lightweight title at Ponds Forge next Saturday.
"My time there made me not fall out with football but with academy football. You were nothing to them.
"Apparently it’s all changed now. It wasn’t very nice and pleasant to play in academy football, they took the fun out of it.”
Despite his experience, the Bramall Lane regular wouldn’t dream of cutting the Blades out of his life – and is content knowing he’s chosen the right sport for him.
“When you lose in boxing it’s heart-breaking but when you win there’s no high like it,” he said.
"It’s like a constant adrenaline rush.”
Coincidently, ‘the Wolf’ is trained by Glynn Rhodes, Woodhouse’s former trainer.
“It’s a brilliant story, the fact someone can be professional in two different sports and do well at them,” said Keanen.
"I take my hat off to him.”