Local boxer picks up first title
A Carlton-in-Lindrick fighter has landed his first boxing title three years after returning to the sport.
John Popplewell was an amateur boxer as a youth but took some time out of the ring before a stint as a mixed martial arts fighter.
A pair of knee operations saw him return to the sweet science as a full-time boxing coach at Ludus Magnus gym in Adwick, Doncaster.
And he’s shown that those who teach can do as well, by winning the FKFOX lightheavyweight British title at Barnsley Metrodome.
Popplewell is over the moon to have become a semi-pro champion, particularly as he moved up two weight divisions to take the fight.
“It’s my third semi-professional bout and I’m 3-0 now,” he said.
“Matt Savage is an experienced lad, he’s had quite a lot of semi-pro bouts and he challenged the champion on the show, one of the lads from our gym, but he had retired and I was around that weight so I took the fight.
“I normally fight at middleweight so it was two divisions up.”
Popplewell had a strategy prepared to deal with the bigger opponent however.
“It went as I thought it would, I won by a unanimous decision – he was a lot taller than me and naturally bigger but I knew I would be stronger,” he said.
“The game plan was to make it ugly, work the body and use the overhand right and I won every round.
“He was a really tough kid, it was a good, close fight.”
What made it more special for the new champion was the level of support he had in the 900-strong crowd.
“I had a lot of support, I sold about 75 tickets for this one and there was a brilliant atmosphere,” he said.
“I’m buzzing, it’s my first title and I’ve had such a good reception from people in the village.
“I hope it inspires people to work hard and train hard.”
The pugilist will now take Christmas off and then continue training ahead of his next bout next year.
“I had a tough 12-week training camp for this one, I was training with Neil ‘Old Skool’ Wain who came out of retirement to fit and raise money for one of the young boxers in our gym who has nephrotic syndrome.
“The show raised money for that and Neil had a good win so it was great to be part of it.
“I have to thank Neil, all my team-mates and people who came to support me.
“I’m coaching full-time and training all the time so I’ll take Christmas off and go from there, I’m sure there will be plenty of challengers for the title.”