Owen Durnan: ‘Boxing geek’ from Sheffield who took up sport after being bullied turns professional

A Sheffield boxer who took up the sport after being bullied at school is on his way to having the last laugh after turning professional.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 5:31 pm

Owen Durnan from Wisewood may not look like a fearsome fighter, but underestimate the two-time Yorkshire Belt-holder – a runner-up at the England Boxing National Amateur Championships last month - at your peril.

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Owen Durnan, left, who took up boxing after being bullied at school, pictured with his manager Izzy Asif of Global Boxing Management.

"It’s always a question, like ‘You box?’. Sometimes afterwards people are like ‘Oh my God you are actually good!’.

"I find it funny. Hopefully in the pro’s I can prove, like I did in the amateurs, that I can. Being underestimated, that’s quite a good thing.”

The former Forge Valley School pupil began boxing aged 11 as he sought to stick up for himself – and was shown the ropes by his step dad Carl Wild, a former professional boxer.

“At the time the bullying was quite bad,” Owen recalls. “I never really said anything back because I didn’t have the confidence.

Owen is trained by Roger Sampson (second from left) and Gary Wilson (right) at Manor Boxing Academy.

"It was young foolishness that got me into it, thinking ‘I’m going to start boxing to beat up my bullies’.

"I just fell in love with boxing. In a way I’m proud it happened because it made me into me.”

Owen’s mum Rebecca threatened to take away his boxing lessons if he fought the bullies at their own game.

”I wouldn’t misbehave because I wanted to go to the gym so much.

"She’s one of the main reasons why I want to box, I want to earn money to buy her a house.”

And while the dangers of the sport are well-known, he is adamant it’s changed his life for the better.

"It’s definitely made me into a more confident person,” Owen adds.

"My mum’s always been good and taught me respect but it’s definitely made me a more respectful person.

"Discipline, as well, it just makes me have more of a positive outlook on life. It’s worked wonders."

Kid Galahad and Dominic Ingle

Owen, who has been nicknamed ‘The Boxing Geek’, has already gained experience sparring former featherweight world champion Kid Galahad – but not before convincing the Ingle Gym’s no-nonsense head trainer Dominic Ingle he was up to the task.

"It was funny when I got there, because I wear glasses Dominic thought I was the photographer,” he recalls.

"At first he laughed when I told him who I was. Looks are deceiving, I don’t really blame him.”

Izzy Asif has signed Owen to his management company Global Boxing Management.

He was also taken by surprise the first time he met The Boxing Geek.

"I looked at this kid with glasses on and said ‘What’s he going to do?’

"Roger (Sampson, Owen’s trainer) just said ‘Don’t worry about him’.

"As soon as I saw him in action I said ‘He can be a future world champion’.”

Like many fresh-faced fighters, Owen is desperate to give up the day job – he currently fits fire alarms – and fulfil his dreams.

“I don’t really fancy working until I’m gone 70,” he adds.

"Hopefully I can earn some money out of boxing then ride off into the sunset.

"As for being a world champion, if you think any less what’s the point in doing it?”