Mum really is the word as Sexton bids for British title

Sam Sexton with trainer Graham Everett, left, and Jon Thaxton. Picture: Chris Lakey

Sam Sexton with trainer Graham Everett, left, and Jon Thaxton. Picture: Chris Lakey - Credit: Archant

Sam Sexton has had his fair share of setbacks during his boxing career, but is determined to use his greatest challenge outside of the ring, to achieve the ambition of his lifetime.

Sam Sexton in action at The Halls during his victory over Hari Miles. Picture: Jerry Daws/Stillfocus

Sam Sexton in action at The Halls during his victory over Hari Miles. Picture: Jerry Daws/Stillfocused.co.uk - Credit: Jerry Daws/stillfocused

At the end of April last year, the 33-year-old lost his beloved mother, Mandy.

Sam was distraught and admits that, had it not been for boxing and the daily trips to work with trainer Graham Everett, he could have gone off the rails.

'I spoke to Graham before mum passed, I called him and said, 'I don't think I am not going to be ready for any fights coming up', because if the worst does happen and it was looking like it was going to happen, I was going to need something to grit my teeth and bite into.

'I would need something to keep me occupied, otherwise I would go off the rails.

Sam Sexton - as a 17-year-old. Picture: Archant

Sam Sexton - as a 17-year-old. Picture: Archant - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

'If I didn't have the gym I would be out drinking every day, eating rubbish food, I would just go out on a binge.

'It would have been all too easy to slip into a depression so it is lucky that I have got the gym.

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'I have Graham and Jon (Thaxton) and all the other boys – they were all pushing me and all talking to me and stuff and I found that if I kept busy I was alright.'

Seven years ago, when his mother was first taken ill, Sexton had to pull out of a fight against Danny Williams. In stepped Dereck Chisora to take the title. When it was Sexton's turn to challenge the Londoner, he tried to use his mother's bravery in hospital as inspiration. But after a brave battle of his own, he couldn't quite himself over the line. Mentally, boxing is a tough sport: the merest of distractions can be magnified 10-fold.

Graham Everett watching Sam Sexton in training. Picture: Chris Lakey

Graham Everett watching Sam Sexton in training. Picture: Chris Lakey - Credit: Archant

This time it is a little different. This time, the inspiration has some closure, unwanted, but closure nonetheless.

The inspiration is as obvious as a punch in the face from a Sexton right hand.

'What happened to mum will be my inspiration,' he said.

'Because mum has always been there since I have been boxing. I have dreamt about her loads of times; she has been with me loads of times in my dreams and she tells me – she tells me to keep pushing, not to go off the rails – 'don't do this, don't do that', and that is what she would want.

Sam Sexton with Jon Thaxton. Picture: Archant

Sam Sexton with Jon Thaxton. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

'I often think about what she would want and how she would see it, in whatever I do in my life.

'One time I went home and thought the house needed to be decorated – mum wants me to decorate. She was always rearranging the house.

'I decorated the living room. I put a picture on my wall and it was on there solid, rawl plugs the lot – and it came crashing down and I said out loud, 'you don't like that there do you?'. The picture hasn't been up since.

'Mum has basically given me a kick up the backside.

Sam Sexton celebrates after beating Ireland's Martin Rogan in their Commonwealth title epic in Belfa

Sam Sexton celebrates after beating Ireland's Martin Rogan in their Commonwealth title epic in Belfast in 2009 .Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

'I feel like I have a new lease of life again on the boxing front, I feel fresh.

'I know what has just happened with mum, but it is a stress free life at the minute, touch wood, where I can concentrate on training.'

The association with Everett goes back two decades.

'I have worked with Graham since I was 13 so it's around 20 years now,' he said.

Sam Sexton takes a breather after 12 rounds of work at the gym. Picture: Chris Lakey

Sam Sexton takes a breather after 12 rounds of work at the gym. Picture: Chris Lakey - Credit: Archant

'He is so dedicated, he is never afraid to learn new things, he isn't afraid to change. Some people won't take on new ideas, but Graham is just on it 24-7 – I know when he goes home he is watching videos and new training methods. If something doesn't work we don't do it again. If it does, brilliant.

'I've had a lot of setbacks in my career but this is the best I've felt, physically and mentally, for a long time.

'I'm going to become British champion for mum.'

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