Everton Red Triangle boxing club had a surprise visit from one of the sport’s greatest legends on Sunday.
Former four-weight world champion Sugar Ray Leonard made a flying visit to the North Liverpool gym to offer advice and guidance to the boxers who were in the middle of a training session and completely unaware a boxing legend was about to call in.
In a speech to the enthralled crowd, including European champion Kevin Satchell, British champion Jazza Dickens, Steven Lewis, Ryan Farrag and GB podium squad member Peter McGrail, Leonard said that he had started out in a gym similar to theirs.
He said: “If you work hard, train hard, believe in yourself and get good grades in school, you can become an Olympic champion and a world champion. I fought some of the best guys in the world but I beat them because I trained hard and I believed in myself.
“People tell you that you can’t do this or you can’t do that but you’ve always got to believe in yourself and be respectful of your parents, your coaches, your friends and family members. That’s what makes champions. That’s what makes legends.”
Coach Paul Stevenson revealed that the visit, made while Leonard was rushing to Manchester Airport for a flight after attending a charity event in St Helens for the Steve Prescott Foundation on Saturday, was only finalized the previous week and had been kept a secret from most of the club.
He said: “It was only confirmed a few days ago. We could only tell a few people. Me and my brother Mick run the gym and we grew up watching Sugar Ray Leonard as kids. As boxing goes he’s like royalty. To have him in our gym is brilliant for us and for the boxers as well. As part of our boxing sessions we watch fights of former greats like Ray and some of them, most of them, will have heard of him but some of the littler ones may have to go home and ask their Dads who he was. When they tell them they’ve met Sugar Ray Leonard I don’t think they’ll believe it.”
The visit was organized by Neil Marsh, manager of all the gym’s professionals and who had been working on it for over two months.
Ryan Farrag, who is close to a shot at the British title, next boxes on a dinner show in Blackpool on April 4, while Steven Lewis is on the undercard of the Derry Mathews v Richar Abril world title fight at the Echo Arena on April 18, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
BoxNation will televise the show live and exclusive on Sky 437/HD 490, Virgin 546 and Talk Talk 525. Subscribe at www.boxnation.com Or watch online at Livesport.tv and via iPhone, iPad or Android.