THE LONG READ: Henry VIII, the successor to the Hide boxing dynasty?
PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 February 2019 | UPDATED: 12:15 12 February 2019
Henry Hide is following in the steps of his famous boxing father Herbie - CHRIS LAKEY spoke to them about the past, the present and the future
The style is unmistakable: if you patented it, you’d call it Raw Hide.
Henry Hide is a unit, for sure. Like his dad – although Herbie looks as trim now as he did during his fighting days when he twice won the world heavyweight crown.
It’s the way Henry, 19, holds his hands, the way he moves, glides around the ring. Picks his spot. And lands.
At ringside watching him spar stands Herbie. We’re at the home of the Norwich Lads Club and he is watching every move, oblivious to the general hubbub that accompanies a busy gym.
At the end of each round he has a chat with Henry. Four rounds in the bag and it’s time to warm down, and then chat...
Henry won his first amateur fight, a high-profile debut at the New Saints ABC in St Ives, where he produced a polished display to see off Jack Course from Dagenham on points. Next up is a trip, coincidentally, to Dagenham later this month, as Henry puts into practice what has been a major part of his life, from growing up in Las Vegas, where he rubbed shoulders with the sport’s greats.
The name Mayweather is prominent – not just because Floyd Senior trained Herbie, but also because of the fractious relationship with his son, Floyd Junior. Hide doesn’t want his paternal relationship to go the same way, so is careful when it comes to nurturing Henry’s talents.
When asked if former two-time world heavyweight champion Herbie, 47, is Henry’s trainer, he is keen to explain the pitfalls of such an arrangement.
“I am his father,” he says, with emphasis.
“Big Floyd was my trainer. Little Floyd used to train evening time, just to avoid his father. Sometimes I would go out for a meal with big Floyd and he would have me come into the gym to see Little Floyd. And when we went down there we’d say ‘BIG FLOYD, WHAT’S UP?’ – it was that loud just to tell Little Floyd, ‘daddy’s here, get out of the way!’.
“I saw the aggravation they had and it was horrible. They used to argue and I used to have to get in the middle of them and I hated it and I said that it would never be like that with us.
“Right now I am giving Henry help. When he is ready, if he is going to be a professional boxer I will just stand back. I am not going to be a big part of it because I saw Big Floyd and Little Floyd – they were enemies and I didn’t like that, and I will never let that happen to me and my son. I don’t want any part of it. I told Henry I am never going to be like that.”
Henry’s older brother, Harrison, lives and works in New York and has recently taken more than a passing interest in boxing. When Herbie describes their routes into the ring, the star names of the 90s – when he was king – drop like confetti.
“Henry has been with all of them - Big Floyd, Little Floyd, Tyson, all of them. Harrison called me and said he wanted to start boxing so I called up Michael Bentt and Riddick Bowe. They met him and he is now training with them at the Gleason’s Gym.”
There is an inevitability about Henry going into the ring, given his upbringing.
“I’ve wanted to box all my life,” he said. “It has always been on my mind, but it is a lot of pressure. I had to become a man before I could accept the responsibility of it.”
Will the Hide surname help or hinder?
“It will be good,” says Henry. “It gives me more pressure and the pressure motivates me.
“Pressure can turn dirt to diamonds.
“Obviously I have got the name to follow and I have a lot to live up to, but I am prepared for that.
“Dad put me on the phone to Big Floyd last month and he asked me if I was going to be as good as my dad.”
“I said yes, of course. Because I have all his knowledge and I can add my own things to create my own self.”
Clearly, fighting is in the DNA, and dad is as proud as, well, punch.
“If he never fights again I will be the proudest father ever,” said Herbie.
“His first words when he was a baby weren’t ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’, it was ‘jab, jab’. He was born into a world of boxing and it is in his blood. If he wants to follow my boxing career then I would be very happy with that. It is his choice, I don’t push him at all, but I am here to help and advise him.”
Henry’s presence on the amateur scene hasn’t gone unnoticed in boxing’s corridors of power.
“I’ve already had a few promoters, big promoters, on - and that was before he even had a fight,” says Herbie. “But he has plans for university and he has a good job as a structural engineer. He doesn’t really have to fight - fighting is what he wants to do.”
Part of the future includes the national championships in the autumn - and in a sport where names carry so much weight, the Hides have the perfect moniker.
“His great-grandmother, Nanny Howard, called him Henry The Eighth when he was born because he was her eighth great-grandchild. People call him the Eighth. And when he fights in the national championships in September we’re going to invite Prince Harry along to watch him.”
Anything appears to be possible with Herbie Hide... will Henry be a chip off the old block?
Graham Everett has seen father and son Herbie and Henry Hide – and says their starts in boxing are very different.
“Henry is a fantastic prospect,” said the Norwich trainer. “The thing is, when Herbie came into boxing he didn’t really have any advice, he didn’t have anyone around him who knew much about boxing, just the amateur scene. The Lads Club was about but there was a lack of knowledge about the pro scene.
“I think Norfolk has progressed tremendously since the Herbie days – and through Herbie really.
“Henry works in the Lads Club gym which the pros share as well and there is tremendous knowledge with the Lads Club and Micky Wright and his team. You have also got Herbie, who has been there, won it, and got the T-shirt. He has myself and Jon Thaxton in the gym, the Walsh boys, Sam Sexton. He is coming in behind a lot of expertise around Norwich which he can turn to for advice whereas Herbie went into the unknown.
“People around here years ago didn’t think he would win the Eastern Counties, let alone get to the ABA final.
“I was part of that group - Herbie used to ask me questions... I didn’t have an answer for him. Now I tell him what I think and what he should do and where they should go.
“Herbie was good and he went on to become what he was – obviously he joined up with a big promotional group and the late great trainer Freddie King. He got involved with that group who had the expertise, but now we have the expertise here, even for a young amateur.
“The Norwich Lads Club is thriving, it is building every year. They are out and about every week, with lads fighting somewhere or other, and credit to Micky and Bruce (Hughes) and the team. Come to the gym and it’s packed and you have all the other clubs around Norfolk all pulling in and doing really well so it is a really good amateur scene.”
At the moment the scene includes the newcomer that is Henry Hide – who knows what might happen next.
“Henry, in his first fight looked really good,” said Everett. “Without trying to put too much pressure on him, he is an absolutely great prospect.”