Walsall fan favourite Martin Gethin has the opportunity to become British Lightweight Champion when he faces Hove’s Ben Murphy for the vacant title at Walsall Town Hall in the middle England on Friday 18th January.
Gethin v Murphy features on a card promoted by Frank Warren, in association with Errol Johnson, headlined with Frankie Gavin’s British Welterweight title defence against Jason Welborn,
Below is a one on one interview with Martin Gethin
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? My older brothers were scrapping all the time so Dad made ‘em go to the Walsall Wood boxing gym and, from the age of six, I was going myself to see what it was like.
What do you recall of your amateur career? When I was eight, dad moved me to the Wednesbury ABC which was the best club in the area, with the best coaches. Tony Tobin and Errol Johnson were the trainers. I stayed there until I turned pro and still train at that gym with Errol today.
We had a great squad. There was (future British welter champion) Young Muttley, Peter Nightingale, (Mark) ‘Macca’ Richards, a southpaw; all went on to be good pros.
When I was about 16, dad paid for me to go away to the East Durham and Houghall College boxing program for two years and that kept me away from trouble for those crucial years. There were about 20 lads on the course at the time and several went on to be successful like Don Broadhurst, Tony Jeffries, Gary Woolcombe, Martin Stead, Dean Harrison.
We were coached by Alwyn Belcher, an old England trainer, and they were good times, a right laugh. They got you really fit up there and it was a great set of lads. I still miss it.
I probably had about 75 bouts and lost more than I won, if I’m honest. When I was very young, 11 to 13, I had six or seven fights with (2006 Commonwealth Games champion) Don Broadhurst and won a couple. I also won a couple of Midland schoolboy titles and got to an NABC final but, after beating (future British super-feather king) Gary Sykes in the semis, I froze against Ryan Barrett. It was at a big London hotel and there were a few ex world champions watching in the crowd. Nerves got the better of me. The referee was really strict, ‘no holding, no pushing, no this, no that’. I didn’t know what I was allowed to do and it all went to pot.
I went in the senior ABAs three times but never got past the Midland stage. Walton from Willenhall beat me in the Midland final one year but, after that, I lost to Dean Harrison and Chris Truman (both future pros). Still, I enjoyed my time in the amateurs. It was a crucial learning part to get to the next level.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? The amateurs became too soft. In one of me last contests I was matched with Frankie Gavin on our club’s show. I was really up for it because I knew that beating him would really put me up there. I was chasing him, chasing him, putting it to him but Frankie caught me and the ref stopped it cos I had a bloody nose....in a boxing fight?! That really annoyed me.
Since my time at Durham, I had more of a pro style, sat down on my feet. I fought at a slower pace which is no good for the amateurs.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed and coached by Errol Johnson and PJ Rowson promotes some of my fights. Bob Plant and Wayne Downing also help out with my training.
I’ve been with ‘em since I was a little kid so I’ve got great trust in ‘em. We have a laugh but they’re good professionals who know what they’re doing and they really push me when it’s time to get down to business.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train every day, then take Sunday off. Work is flexible so I organise my schedule around it. I’ll usually have a six to seven mile run around 10.30 a.m and I’ll gradually build up to 12-13 miles. I quite enjoy running and know it’s the best thing for getting you really fit.
I’ll spend between one and a half and two hours at the boxing gym. I’ll start with five or six rounds of sharp shadow boxing, then do plenty of bags and pads, sparring and circuits. I’m not a great skipper any more. All that bouncing around ain’t good on my old ankles! I don’t get into the weights side if I’m training for a fight. I prefer to work against my own body weight; loads of sit ups, press ups, pull ups, ground work. I’ll finish off with more light ‘shadow’ and a good stretch.
Strangely enough, I most enjoy being really pushed in a good circuit. It’s more the feeling you get after, having really put your body to the limit. The worst thing is this exercise where you do a sit up, stand up, then jump on to the ring apron. After a few, it’s a real killer.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m the Duracell bunny! I’m a brawler-fighter that keeps coming forward till the opponent packs in or gets stopped. I just keep going. I love the tear ups but can box me way out of trouble if and when I need to.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter?There’s loads I could do to improve but specifically I do tend to drop my guard. Also I’m a very slow starter. It usually takes a good clout around the head before I wake up. Mind, once me engine’s warmed up I could go 15 rounds, easy.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The training and the dieting for the pros are far, far harder. To get through 10 or 12 rounds, everything has to be ‘spot on’.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Two spring to mind. In sparring, I learned a lot from Muttley’s technique and how he throws shots from angles. Also Frankie Gavin, who I boxed in the amateurs. I’ve since sparred him, ten rounds straight off, in the pros. He really knows what he’s doing, knows exactly where he is in the ring, always twisting and turning. Very skilled.