Over 15 years on from when he traded punches with Joe Calzaghe, Leeds’ former super-middleweight contender Nick Manners is ready for a run at boxing glory as a trainer, writes Andrew Wake.
The 44-year-old set up his own gym last year and already he has discovered a fighter he believes can go all the way to the top.
Lithuanian teenager Ruslanas Yvisockas, 14, knew he wanted to become a boxer as soon as he arrived in the country and his dream has moved a step closer since joining Manners’ Macaulay Street stable.
“He came up the stairs, put his head around the door and said: ‘are you Nick Manners? Can you teach me to box?’”, recalled Manners, whose brothers Colin and Rick are also Leeds-based trainers.
“At first I thought the Russian mafia had turned up! But, no, he’s a good kid and he’s really settled in.
“Ruslanas loves the sport and he’s dedicated. When I look into his eyes I see hunger. At times he’s at the gym before I am and I think I’ve got a diamond here. I tell him he’s young and sometimes he has to go and enjoy himself and he’s like ‘no, today we train’.
“Naturally, I like his style. He’s a person who thinks, he doesn’t mind taking a backwards step, he doesn’t mind setting traps and moving and that’s a boxer to me.
“If he carries on the way he’s going, he’s going to get a multitude of fans because he’s down to earth and everyone loves humility.”
Meanwhile, local professionals Adil Anwar and Luke Robinson are looking to deal out some capital punishment tomorrow night as they appear at London’s York Hall.
Anwar, from Burley, makes the first defence of his International Masters welterweight title against Aylesbury’s Nathan Graham while Castleford’s Robinson takes on unbeaten prospect Erick Ochieng.