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Hot boxing prospect Catchpole forced to retire from the game at 21

PUBLISHED: 11:51 04 April 2013 | UPDATED: 11:51 04 April 2013

Joe Catchpole pro

Joe Catchpole pro

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Dagenham boxer Joe Catchpole reflects on his time in the ring and his prospects out of it now his career has come to an untimely halt

Boxing is supposed to be the dangerous sport. There are some who would like to see it banned, but for Dagenham fighter Joe Catchpole it is go-karting and not boxing that has proved his undoing.

Catchpole, who lives in Sterry Road, Dagenham Heathway, has been forced to retire from a promising boxing career at the tender age of just 21.

It is a decision that he hasn’t yet come to terms with.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” the light-middleweight southpaw told the Post.

“I really think I could have got to the British title level. I was just about to step up to six-round fights and then it all went badly wrong.”

That go-kart accident happened when he was 15, but he seemed to have recovered from the wrist injury as he continued a successful amateur career with West Ham BC, before stepping into the pro game and immediately making an impact.

In five pro fights he won four of them, avenging his one and only draw on his record in fine style.

But it was shortly after that final fight in October 2011 at York Hall, Bethnal Green that the trouble started again with his wrist.

“I was sparring eight or 10 rounds with Southern Area Champion Steve O’Meara and it was going really well,” added Catchpole.

“But then after about three rounds I just felt something go in my right hand — it was agony.

“From then on I had nine dates fixed for fights in the next 18 months and I just couldn’t make any of them. It got so bad that I couldn’t even make a fist.”

Catchpole went through a series of treatment and doctors finally recommended that he needed a plate put into his wrist.

“I listened to what the doctors had to say, but there was always something in the back of my mind that said I could still make it as a boxer, that there was still hope, so I stopped the treatment and started proper training again,” he added.

It didn’t work, though, and finally Catchpole realised there was no way back.

“I have been away from the ring for 18 months now and I have finally come to terms with the fact the wrist is not going to improve.

“It is a tough decision to have to take, but that is it,” he said.

Catchpole dispatched Johnny Greaves, Daniel Thorpe and Karl Taylor in his first three professional fights, before he came up against Steve Spence in Rotherham.

But it was a fight that he never should have taken, as he explained.

“I shouldn’t have gone up there,” said Catchpole.

“I had been expecting to serve some prison time for something stupid I did when I was 18, but when that didn’t happen, I phoned my trainer and said I wanted a fight.

“He told me there was one going the following week and I took it. I certainly learned a lesson from that.”

Even then, Catchpole managed a draw and earned himself a rematch down at York Hall in October 2011.

“I think the last one was my best fight,” he said. “Normally I come forward, but this time I hit him with some good counter shots and really outclassed him.”

It proved to be Catchpole’s last fight but a memorable one for him and his fans.

“I have to start the hospital treatment from scratch again, so I’m not sure when they will put the plate in my hand,” he said.

“In the meantime I’d like to get into training side of boxing. I want to start from the bottom with the youngsters, learn the art of coaching and then work my way up.”

Catchpole was working his way up in the rough, tough world of pro boxing, now his career will have to move off into a different direction.

But at least this promising Dagenham fighter has not been lost to the noble art altogether.


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