Ipswich Town fan Billy Bird vows to win over rivals with Epic boxing show
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Billy Bird is preparing to enter enemy territory – all in the name of boxing.
The 20-year-old middleweight is a keen Ipswich Town fan, but has joined forces with Norwich-based trainer – and long-time Canaries supporter – Graham Everett, as he sets out on the professional trail.
And while they are looking ahead to Bird's debut in the city on June 15, both men admit that the footballing banter has been flying around the Kickstop Gym in recent weeks.
'He has taken the banter to another level actually being an Ipswich fan in our gym,' laughed Everett. 'Let's be fair, we have bragging rights at the minute and I can't see it going any other way. For a few weeks on Monday mornings he had been giving me a bit of grief, but the last two weeks he has been very, very quiet. But let's face it, we have got as much money to spend as they are in debt – I would rather be in our shoes than theirs.'
While Bird, from Sudbury, may be a lone blue in the gym, the truth is that it is all good, clean fun.
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'He is a good guy,' said Everett. 'He trains and works with Nathan Dale on a daily basis and spars with the Walsh brothers – the friendship in here is everything. Everyone gets on well, everyone supports each other and he has fitted in really well and we are delighted to have him on board.'
Bird – who spends most of the week in a Norwich hotel during his training camp – is enjoying life over the border.
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'It's all about the banter,' he said. 'If you haven't got the banter in the gym it is pointless coming.'
Fighting in the yellow and greens' back yard doesn't worry him either.
'At the end of the day I am here to build a relationship with everyone –yes, you have the football side of things, but it is for a laugh. I think the Norwich fans will like me – I will perform on the night and I am an exciting fighter.'
Bird – a cousin of Lee Purdy, who fought on the same Atlantic City bill as Anthony Ogogo last weekend – has a good record on the unlicensed circuit, winning 15 and drawing once in 16 outings, and having been a regular at the Kickstop it was perhaps inevitable that he would turn to Everett and Jon Thaxton when the pro game called.
'I have known Graham since I was 16 – I used to come here with my old trainer Russell Smith,' said Bird. 'I have built a relationship with Graham and Jon and all the boys up here and when I finally got the opportunity to turn pro under Graham and Jon I took it with both hands.
'I come up on a Sunday night and I stay here until Friday afternoon when I finish. I have kept myself to myself. I don't see my mates – I've told them I am away for the next eight weeks and I will see them on fight night.'
Everett is convinced Bird will be a big hit.
'I am really excited about him, we all are – he is a tremendous prospect. He has a good work ethic, good fan base, everything about him is really good. He comes from good stock – he has boxing in his blood.
'I'm really pleased with his progress – he is a very strong young man and if he keeps working as he is I think the future is great for him. He is one of those who is an aggressive puncher, he works hard to the body.'
Tickets for the June 15 'Frighten Force' bill at Epic can be obtained from the boxers, the Epic TV Centre Ticket hotline 07783 594517 or online at www.shamrockboxing.co.uk.