Dominic Ingle: How Kid Galahad trainer followed legendary father Brendan Ingle into boxing

Dominic Ingle tells the story of his introduction to boxing, in his own words, ahead of Josh Warrington vs Kid Galahad

Dominic Ingle with a story on Brendan Ingle (by your author) that hangs in their gym
Dominic Ingle with a story on Brendan Ingle (by your author) that hangs in their gym

Dominic Ingle is a top boxing trainer in his own right but of course followed his legendary and sadly missed father Brendan into the sport. Ahead of his man Kid Galahad challenging Josh Warrington for the IBF featherweight title this weekend, Dominic shares with us his personal boxing backstory, in his own words.

Dad’s a boxer?!
It was probably 1973, I’d have been about six, me sister were born in ‘74, me youngest sister, think me dad had retired; I had no idea he’d been a boxer. I remember the local newspaper coming round the house to interview me dad, who was making a comeback at 30-odd. Think my sister were four years younger than John so they needed the money. He probably had the most fights he’d had in a year that year [nine]! She was born in January ’74 and I think he boxed November ‘73 in Denmark; it were a right good Christmas because he bought us a load of presents. I had never been to the gym at that point I don’t think. I realised then he were a boxer, we moved house to where me mum lives and the gym were across the road.

My brief amateur career
I started going to the gym. In the gym, running around, there was a bit of land by the side of it. We had people just trooping through the house all the time, a lot of strange accents, but it seemed normal to us. I did a bit of training from about nine. I think you boxed at 11 and my brother was three years older than me. When I was eight, John was seven, we watched me older brother Brendan Jr and he looked like he was getting beaten up. He said, ‘You fancy a go?’ It put John off but even at that age, with ginger hair and freckles, people picking on you, you learn how to look after yourself, so I fancied a go. I got to 11, got my amateur card and did two seasons: had 14, won 12. I fought a kid called Andrew Smith in the Midlands finals or something, he had won it the previous year. I got stopped in the first or second round, he caught me in the eye. I was fuming, I had only lost one at that point. At the time Herol Graham were in the gym and he were brilliant, maybe he was British champion at the time, and I thought, ‘That’s how good you gotta be.’ I packed up at about 14, concentrated on football and school work.

The schoolboy conditioner
I was still around boxing, I went running with people like Herol at five in the morning and I would make sure he did runs properly. Herol seemed to be doing his runs in very quick time to what me dad expected so he sent me to check he weren’t cutting corners. That’s how we first got into the exercise side of it. He used to run six miles, go back to bed, we’d go to school, he’d go with Brendan at 10.30 or 11am to do padwork, have lunch, back in the gym at 4pm to do body sparring, go home and eat, then run for 35 minutes at 9pm at night; so training four times a day but short sessions, old-school training, back in those days when there were 15-round fights at championship level. As I got older and he was in the mix with Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns etc, I thought, ‘That’s what it takes’, because I considered him good and he was still struggling to get into the mix.

On the Road
I think dad wanted us to be involved but I wasn’t particularly interested in training as I was more committed than some of the boxers so I thought, ‘Whats the point?’ But if Brendan was busy with other fighters I’d be taking kids out – B or C-level fighters – on the continent, learning how to bandage hands, corner them, do cuts. I’d be 19, they’d be 24, 25. It were a baptism of fire really, back then in places like Belgium very few people talked English. I did some timekeeping for two-three years from 18, but packed that in. I only really got into the training, diet and nutrition around 27. I went to a few gyms because we only really did bodyweight exercises in our gym, started applying that and the first time I helped someone make weight was Ryan Rhodes against Paul ‘Silky’ Jones. I slowly picked it up from there.

A thriving gym
Naz [Naseem Hamed] started coming through, others filtered through, the gym was packed, Brendan concentrated on Johnny Nelson, Naz etc and I really had to start getting into it full-time because Brendan wasn’t turning anyone away, it was ‘The more the merrier’ for him. With the success of Naz, lots thought they could come to Brendan’s gym and end up like him. Herol Graham says ‘The Ingle style is down to me’, but to a certain degree everyone had a slightly different style, everyone learned off everybody. Before Naz had that flamboyant style, he had that traditional style, he learned it all properly before he started doing it all wrong, but lots came in trying to do it back to front.

The Naz Experience
Naz had a well-documented fallout with Brendan before the Wayne McCullough fight [in 1998]. Naz wouldn’t talk to him, I did pads and stuff but Brendan was telling me what to do. It was like painting by numbers, I wasn’t really qualified but I knew about diet and nutrition and one of Naz’s biggest problems was weight. He had eight weeks to get a stone-and-a-half [21lbs] off, so I said yes but ‘I’ll have to do your diet and you’ll have to train twice a day.’ He made weight the easiest he ever had but he messed up a bit because he left it to his brothers to arrange visas etc so ended up flying out [to Atlantic City] on the Tuesday of fight week which wasn’t early enough. That’s when I started to work more on fighters making weight safely. The pressure, the lifestyle, the Britpop era he was in the middle of, Naz got so distracted by everything else, focusing was difficult for him. He took himself off ove the other side of Sheffield, it was a long drive to get to the gym; he changed once he became world champ.

Measuring success
You have your success or you don’t; these polls about the best trainer in Britain don’t matter. It’s getting them to the highest level they can get to and the most money they can get; it’s not about the trainer. We ain’t done bad over the years, have we? I just look at me bank account at the end of the year and see if I’ve had a good year or not. It’s not an issue to me, I measure the gym’s success about how many champions we’ve managed to achieve over the years. I’m not gonna get paid for getting an award, it’s 10% to train a fighter but if I get an award can I charge 15 or 20%? No.

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