BATLEY’S Purge Boxing Academy has produced another national champion in Josh Hargreaves.
The 23-year-old, who lives just down the road from the Alexandra Mills-based gym, defeated Mohammed Udin in the 60kg final in Banbury last weekend by a split decision – completing a remarkable comeback from the devastation of defeat in the previous final.
The champion said he thought about quitting the sport after losing last time, but was able to use it as further motivation to achieve glory.
“I got to the final last year and lost in the final, so it’s been a challenge to get myself back in the gym and get motivated,” he said.
“Last year I could have stopped because I was that gutted and upset for losing, because I believed I could win but didn’t do it that day.
“But I did it this year, fought a tough kid as well from London who’s been knocking all his opponents out, so it was a tough one but I did it.”
Coach Mohammed Amin Patel co-founded Purge three years ago, and says that Hargreaves fully deserves his success.
He said:“We didn’t have any doubt in him because he puts the work in, he never whinges and never complains and he’s an absolute pleasure to work with. He believed in himself, he wanted it and I think he was hungrier than anybody else in the competition.
“We can coach him, but it’s not what we do inside the gym, it’s what they do outside of the gym.”
Hargreaves only returned to the sport 11 months ago after a number of years away, having boxed for several years as a junior.
He said: “I just got bored of living the same life, and I thought what ‘am I going to do with my time?’
“The only thing I knew how to do was box because I’d done it when I was a kid, so I thought I’d go back to it.
“It’s five minutes from here to my house, so I came down and just worked and worked, got to know everyone, and then just worked my way up, got fit, started to fight, and just wanted to win a national title.”
It takes a lot of dedication to get there and he has worked harder than most, juggling his full-time job as a car salesman with a lot of training.
Amin said: “He wakes up at seven in the morning, goes for a run, does between four and six miles every other day, then he’s working and then he comes here and does his boxing.
“Right now he’s one of the best kids in the gym, works really hard, and doesn’t need to be told what to do. He’s doing his skip- ping, he’s doing his shadow boxing, he trains with the coaches, and when it’s time to go home he’ll be putting an extra half hour or 45 minutes, doing his bike work, treadmill work, strength and conditioning, so he’s a really hard-working kid.
“He’s got the right attitude, he’s one of the hardest working kids in the gym, he knew where he wanted to go, and he got what he more or less deserved.
“He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
He is the third national champion to come out of Purge, as the academy continues to grow.
Having started with just 10 seniors, the gym now boasts up to 70 junior boxers and 30 seniors, and has the help of Julian McGowan, coach of British champion Gary Sykes.
Josh follows on from Callum Grace and Rizwan Aslam in claiming national titles, and they now run a pro stable as well, with Ismail Khan scheduled to fight at Elland Road on November 23.
“We are a professional base now as well, so anyone who is looking to turn professional or wanting to train as a professional, Purge Academy accommodates for that,” said Amin.
Going pro could be the route now for Hargreaves as well, and Amin says that “the sky’s the limit” for him.
“The next challenge we’re looking for is the Yorkshire belt, and then there’s the Northern area belt as well, and maybe from there going for the English title.
“I think the next competition for Josh would be the ABA (Championships), and if he wins that Great Britain would be calling for trials.
“But even if it doesn’t work out, the next aim for him is to turn him pro next July or August time. We know he’s got a bright future ahead of him if he keeps his head down.
“The professional game’s made for him because he’s such a gutsy fighter, he’s got a lot of heart, a good chin, and a good engine.
“He’s made the gym proud, put Purge on the map, and it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”