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Follow a boxer through a pro debut at York Hall

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Gidman made his pro debut at the iconic boxing venue, York Hall

Owen Gidman is a plasterer by day, but has ambitions which extend far beyond the building trade.

The 23-year-old completed his boxing medicals and certification earlier this year and is ready to embark on a career as professional fighter. Like many young boxers, he fits training – at Far Cotton Boxing Club in Northampton – around his work schedule.

A light-welterweight, Gidman’s debut was set for 29 October at the York Hall in East London.

As a small-hall fighter, he was under pressure to sell as many tickets as he could, as well as manage his nerves.

“I’ve been working so hard with my training, and to sell tickets of course,” he told us before the fight. “I’ve done over a hundred. The promoter’s happy, which is the main thing.

“But look, I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous. I want this to go well, and I don’t want to let myself and everyone else down.

“My opponent, Lee Hallett, is very experienced and a southpaw but the way I see it, there’s no point worrying too much about him.

“I just have to make sure I don’t freeze. If I show what I can do, I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Like most debutants, Gidman’s first pro contest was not the beginning of his boxing journey.

The sport has played a consistent role throughout his life, and he is happy to admit he was particularly drawn to it because he was “an angry kid”.

“Boxing was the one thing that worked for me,” he said.

“I found school difficult and was never the best at reading and writing. I was always fighting, always in trouble, so my family pushed me in the direction of football, to give me an outlet.

“But that didn’t work out. We then watched the Ricky Hatton v Floyd Mayweather fight on TV together, and after watching that, I said I wanted to give boxing a go.

“It’s funny how something like that can influence your life, but that was where it all began.”

Gidman – from Bletchley in Buckinghamshire – began training at his local club aged eight. Over the next three years, his commitment grew, and he began competing as a junior amateur. After going far in various schoolboy championships, he won the junior ABAs – the UK’s national amateur championship – in 2014.

It would be easy to assume that, from there, Gidman’s career path followed the stereotype of the successful amateur: GB team squads, senior honours, major championship medals. But things did not turn out that way.

“By the age of 16, I started to drift away from boxing,” Gidman said.

“My priorities weren’t right. I got involved with a lot of street-life, hanging around with the wrong people and getting into trouble.”

To try to straighten out, he signed up for a brief stint in the Army, where he began boxing again. He reached the semi-finals of the senior ABAs in 2018, and his return to the sport eventually led to his decision to enter the paid ranks earlier this year.

He said: “I’m a front-foot fighter and I’m at my best when I’m going forward. I always had a feeling that the pro game would suit me better than the amateurs.”

Any debut nerves were not apparent on the night. Outside the venue, Gidman bumped into former British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion Kevin Mitchell.

They walked in together, with Mitchell – now a coach – giving him lots of advice. Before the ringwalk, Mitchell appeared again and told Gidman to “relax and have fun with it”.

‘Giddy’ put in a calm and assured performance against a durable journeyman, winning a comfortable points decision in front of a noisy crowd.

“Getting the win was great,” Gidman said.

“There were things I could have done better. I know that. I should have let my hands go more, but it’s all about the win.

“My opponent was tricky and awkward, but he congratulated me at the end and told me I hurt him in the fourth round. He’s a guy who doesn’t get hurt often, so that meant a lot to me.”

Such is the speed of the small-hall boxing scene, Gidman plans to fight again before Christmas. And he has big ambitions.

“Now I’ve had a taste of it, I can’t wait to go again,” he said.

“I’m aiming to go all the way in boxing. I mean it. Right to the very top.”


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