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Cromer boxing champion Liam Walsh takes winning belt to father’s grave

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 December 2014 | UPDATED: 10:42 16 December 2014

Liam Walsh and his brothers on the pitch at half time during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Liam Walsh and his brothers on the pitch at half time during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Scrabble, chess and playing along to the TV quiz Countdown are not pastimes normally associated with a professional boxer.

Ambition to become school boxing ambassador

As well as being boxing champion, Liam Walsh wants to become an ambassador for the sport in schools.

He said: “I think there should be boxing in schools. Lads would have more respect for each other.

“I would voluntarily give my time to something like that. If boxing was put into schools, I’m 99pc sure bullying would stop. It teaches you discipline and respect.”

Mr Walsh and his partner Sarah Mason, 25, have a son Lenny, three, and daughter Elsie, one. The couple have another son due in March.

He said: “Lenny already talks about boxing with me. I’d love for him to go into amateur boxing but I wouldn’t like it for him to go into it professionally.

“In the amateur circuit it is more for the fun and discipline. I would never push him into anything though.”

But surprisingly, they are favourite activities of 28-year-old Liam Walsh, from Cromer, who is the new British super-featherweight champion.

He paraded his belt at half-time during Norwich City’s match with Huddersfield Town at Carrow Road on Saturday with his twin brother and fellow professional boxer Ryan and older brother Michael, who also used to box for a living.

Mr Walsh, who moved to Cromer from Rochdale aged nine, said: “I was always hell-bent on being a boxer. People think boxing is for thugs but they are so wrong.

“If my brothers and I did not box I don’t know where we would be now. It has taught us discipline from a young age.”

Boxing career highlights

Liam Walsh may be celebrating being new British super-featherweight champion but his amateur career did not get off to a good start.

The boxer, from New Road in Cromer, said: “To start with, I was terrible as an amateur. I won two of my first 10 fights. But I stuck with it and persevered and came good. I matured.

“I always loved boxing but I had to adapt my mindset as I got older. I realised I had to win and take it seriously.”

His first amateur fight was at Colchester aged 12, and after that he fought in 44 matches in the amateur circuit as well as seven for England.

He won the Youth Commonwealth Games as an amateur in 2004.

Mr Walsh, along with his brothers, also got to the final of the prestigious senior Amateur Boxing Association championships at Liverpool.

His brother Michael, 30, won. Mr Walsh would like to fight Stephen Smith, who beat him, as a professional.

He added: “I love fighting in the ring and I love the sport. It really excites me. It is lots of hard work but it is really rewarding. I like making my family proud and I always like to give my fans a good night.”

He, along with his brothers, took an early interest in boxing because their father John, who died in 2011, was a big fan of the sport.

From the age of four he was sparring with his brothers in the front room, using rolled up towels as a ring and a leather belt as a prize.

He started training in Rochdale aged seven, then went to Aylsham Boxing Club, Norwich Lads Club and Kingfisher Boxing Club in Great Yarmouth,

A picture of twin brothers Ryan and Liam Walsh (right) when they were about 16-years-old. Picture: SUBMITTEDA picture of twin brothers Ryan and Liam Walsh (right) when they were about 16-years-old. Picture: SUBMITTED

During that time, he also went on morning runs, led by his father, to Cromer lighthouse wearing rucksacks filled with bricks and dumbbells.

Mr Walsh, from New Road, turned professional aged 22 and currently trains at Kickstop Gym on Whiffler Road in Norwich.

“My dad was a big influence. He loved boxing. The British title was something he wanted one of us to win. He would be proud of me,” he added.

After the victory Mr Walsh took the belt to his father’s grave at Cromer Cemetery.

His mother Michelle, 50, from Brownshill in Cromer, said she was proud of all three of her boxing sons.

She said: “They achieved what they wanted to achieve. It is fantastic what they have done. The dedication needed for boxing is unbelievable.

“I do get worried when they fight and it never gets easier.”

As well as boxing, her twin sons love playing along to the Channel 4 Countdown quiz programme and want to compete against each other on the show.

Do you have a story of a north Norfolk sporting star? Email sophie.wyllie@archant.co.uk

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