Jon Thaxton comes out of retirement to train Herbie Hide
Two of Norwich boxing's biggest names – Jon Thaxton and Herbie Hide – have joined forces, on either side of the ropes.
Thaxton is returning to ringside as a trainer, while Hide is the pupil as he prepares to fight on home territory for the first time since October 2008.
While former two-time world heavyweight champion Hide is still active, albeit plying his trade as a cruiserweight on the European scene for the past five years, Thaxton has been out of the ring since his retirement two and a half years ago.
The intention was to stay that way, but the 37-year-old former British and European lightweight champion has had his head turned by numerous approaches and has teamed up with local fitness guru Neil Featherby – the first time all three men have worked together since 1998.
'It wasn't my intention to return to the ring,' admitted Thaxton, who hopes to be granted his licence this weekend.
'People have contacted me from here, there and everywhere about training them and Neil has always said we can do this and we can do that, but I have always had other business interests like my personal training, my motivational work and my work in schools and I haven't had time.
'A new young lad, Joe Payne, got in touch with Neil after speaking with another former East Anglian professional boxer Steve Spartacus and after a long chat with Neil he suggested that I should give Joe a call. We had a meeting and it got my appetite back.
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'Myself and Neil want to do it properly. We have a good team – we have (Sheffield trainer) John Ingle out there doing the management side of it – the Ingles did a fantastic job with the opportunities they gave me and we want to give fighters the best opportunities we can give them.
'The two years out has done me the world of good – it gave me time to reflect on my career, the good times and the bad times, what I did well and also what I can give to someone else.
'I have trained with some of the best trainers in the world and I have learned a lot of from them.
'We have everything together – we are working out of the Diamond Gym in Norwich, we have myself, 17 years as a professional, we have got Neil, as a fitness guru, we have a physio on board, we have John Ingle, Danny Moloney and one of the best sports psychologists in the business Mike Guyton. So in a nutshell we have the whole package.'
Thaxton's first task is to ensure Hide is ready for a cruiserweight showdown with another Norwich boxer, Danny McIntosh, some time this summer – but there is another side to his job.
'I have been involved in training since I was 16 years old, working in various gyms,' said Thaxton.
'I have jumped into it no problem. You have to look at everyone as an individual because everyone is different. The bottom line is it is about preparing Herbie to fight, not training him. Herbie knows how to box – I am not going to change who he is, but I can prepare him to fight.
'He is 39 – this is the last-chance saloon for him. He has to be prepared, not just physically but mentally, which is where me and Neil come in.
'Has Herbie still got it? Damned right he has.'
Thaxton and Featherby along with Moloney intend to stage shows in Norwich and showcase young, emerging talent, such as Payne.
'We want to start grassroots and them build lads into champions,' said Thaxton. 'But I want them to do well in the ring while having a good life outside of the ring, in terms of their character and personality.
'I would love to take someone to British, Commonwealth, European title standard and perhaps beyond, and be able to say, 'we did that, we showed him the way – and we got them a career outside of the ring as well.'
Finding a suitable venue that works in terms of finance has always been an issue for anyone seeking to put on local shows, but Featherby believes an answer is close.
'I have spoken to a number of potential venues and at last I think we may have found one that will meet all our necessary requirements at this stage and subject to crossing a few T's and dotting some I's, John Ingle has basically said 'let's go for it'.
'The Ingles have a network of fighters all over the country which includes East Anglia so with this in mind and down to the fact that we already have Herbie, Danny McIntosh and now Joe Payne lined up and ready to go, we are all hoping that this is the start of bigger things to come here in Norwich'.