Former world champions Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg are both relishing life helping to guide the next generation of boxing stars.
The pair have remained stablemates after hanging up the gloves by coaching fighters alongside their former trainer Joe Gallagher in Bolton. Both are big supporters of Maverick Stars - Crolla overseas the 'Operation Warrior' initiative at his amateur club Fox ABC - and are relishing life outside of the ropes.
Click below to hear about life as former fighters, coaching, and why the former sparring partners cannot stop competing.
A Maverick Stars programme aimed at supporting armed forces veterans has grown from strength to strength, with hundreds now taking part at boxing clubs across the nation.
‘Operation Warrior’ has proved an outstanding success. The eight-week courses feature boxing sessions, team building days, guest speakers and mental health first aid. Following an inaugural project in partnership with Tom Harrison House and Derry’s Gym in Liverpool, the programme is now being delivered throughout the north-west, north-east, the midlands and the south-east. Plans are in place to extend the scheme further.
Operation Warrior was set up to support ex-servicemen and women who encounter mental and physical health problems upon leaving the forces. Boxing has a positive effect on confidence, motivation, and stress levels. The initiative is the brainchild of armed forces veteran and head of Maverick’s veterans’ programmes, Tony Gilley.
“Many vets encounter problems when they leave the forces,” Tony said. “There can be problems with addiction, isolation, and poor physical and mental health. Our work is based at boxing clubs and the courses help raise self-esteem through improved fitness and other opportunities.”
The programme at South Wye Police Boxing Academy in Hereford has proved extremely successful. Maverick Stars ambassador and GB boxer Delicious Orie has been a regular at the sessions – when training commitments allow. The talented super-heavyweight is tipped for big things at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, and the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Initiatives are also in place at Willaston ABC, Birkenhead, North Mersey ABC, Liverpool, Elite Boxing, Bolton, North Star ABC, Sunderland, Fox ABC in Oldham, Amir Unsworth Boxing Academy, Lincolnshire, and West London ABC.
Other boxing gyms have partnered with local football clubs to widen their community reach. Examples include Hamer ABC and Rochdale AFC, 5-Ways Boxing Club and Burnley FC in the Community, Derry’s Gym and Liverpool FC Foundation, Penwortham ABC and Preston North End and Curzon Ashton FC and Magic Hatton Boxing and Fitness.
Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte will finally do battle at Wembley Stadium this weekend with record numbers in attendance and millions watching around the world. To get an insight as to how this fight might pan out, we spoke to rising heavyweight star Delicious Orie.
The Maverick Stars ambassador was recently victorious at the BoxAm tournament in Spain and continues to impress in the amateur ranks with GB Boxing.
Casting his eye over Fury’s defence of his WBC title, ‘DJ’ said: “I think it’s a great fight for British fans and British boxing. I’m a fan of both Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte.
“In terms of the outcome? I think Tyson wins, but to be honest it’s hard to predict – it’s heavyweight boxing. It could be a knockout, it could be an early stoppage, Tyson Fury could make it boring. But Tyson Fury is a little bit smarter and a lot more awkward for Dillian Whyte to handle.”
Along with continuing his stellar progress on the international amateur stage, DJ is still helping to provide opportunities for others. Along with his friend and GB teammate Conner Tudsbury, DJ spent his Easter holidays helping young amateur fighters to train like a GB boxer.
The initiative at Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club - supported by Maverick Stars Trust – was a big success with the two elite fighters giving nutrition advice, tips on strength and conditioning and boxing technique masterclasses.
After recently returning with a gold medal while representing GB Boxing in Spain, Delicious Orie is now focussing on repeating the feat at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.
The Maverick Stars ambassador was victorious at the BoxAm tournament, although in slightly fortuitous circumstances. After a fine performance in the semi-final against Spain's Fermin Berrentxea, 'DJ' was awarded gold via walkover after his fellow finalist, Spaniard Ayoub Ghadfa, withdrew from the competition.
Now an established member of the GB set-up, DJ is gunning for the big medals in the super-heavyweight division - starting with a Games very close to home.
Boxing clubs throughout the country have been awarded a vital defibrillator as part of the Maverick Stars 'Keep the Beat' campaign.
The initiative aims to promote CPR techniques along with donating fifty defibs to amateur gyms. Headed up by Maverick ambassador April Hunter - who lost her cousin and best friend Paul Gardner to cardiac arrest in 2018 - the project is being run in conjunction with the charity set up in Paul's name, PGCPR.
The campaign also has the full support of April’s friend, world champion middleweight Savannah Marshall and Newcastle and Ireland goalkeeping legend Shay Given.
Sudden cardiac arrest in young people – including high-profile athletes – has increasingly been making headlines in recent years. Each year in the UK there are more than 30,000 ‘out-of-hospital’ cardiac arrests. The survival rate is less than one in ten. In some cases, performing CPR can more than double the chances of survival.
Maverick Stars has provided the defibrillators to amateur boxing clubs most in need. It will help meet the requirement that every England Boxing member club will need to have access to and know how to use a lifesaving defib by 1st June 2022.
England Boxing Head of Community Development, Avoen Perryman, said: "For the fifty boxing clubs that the team at Maverick Stars Trust have selected to support with this amazingly generous offer, I just want to say congratulations and well done. It is great to see that your clubs will now have this key piece of equipment installed.
"To the remaining clubs who didn't make Maverick's final fifty, your regional Club Support Officers are on-hand to support and advise with securing a defibrillator in time for the June 1st deadline. There is also a new support page and guidance information available on our website.
"So often in our wonderful sport, we hear people say that 'boxing saved my life', and whilst that is true for so many, this vital piece of equipment at fifty new boxing clubs across the country could quite literally save lives for years to come.
"Thank you to Charlotte, and all the staff, volunteers and clubs that are part of the Maverick Stars Trust family. I know your efforts are greatly appreciated by EB's clubs."
A specialist construction firm has joined forces with Maverick Stars to provide free boxing sessions for NHS workers. Cheshire-based MTX Contracts - a company with expertise in healthcare building projects - is funding a Maverick Stars programme to deliver coaching to key workers.
MTX has been constructing an extension to the emergency department at Crewe's Leighton Hospital. Staff from the hospital have been taking advantage of the free boxing sessions at South Cheshire Amateur Boxing Club.
David Hartley, managing director of MTX, said: "It's essential that we give something back to the community. The Leighton programme has been a great success and it's something we want to roll out to other projects nationwide."
A Maverick Stars Ambassador has been speaking of the importance of CPR and defibrillators after being called into action when a gym member suffered a cardiac arrest.
Wimborne ABC head coach Dave Rimmer performed CPR on Zoe Cluett after she collapsed during a training session. Dave continued to implement his first aid skills and called for the club's defib, which was then put to use.
Thankfully, all efforts were successful and Zoe's pulse and breathing returned. An otherwise fit and healthy 36-year-old, Zoe was back in the gym to see her friends just three weeks later.
Maverick Stars has launched the campaign 'Keep the Beat', providing vital defibs to fifty boxing gyms nationwide. The campaign, spearheaded by our ambassador April Hunter, is in conjunction with PGCPR.
Maverick Stars ambassador Brad Rea is looking to make a statement when he faces Craig McCarthy on the undercard of Amir Khan v Kell Brook.
Brad, who has a perfect record of eleven fights, eleven wins, takes on his fellow unbeaten fighter at a packed AO Arena. It'll mark a big step up for a man who also works as a coach for Maverick Stars when his punishing training programme allows.
Coaching has always been a part of Brad's boxing life and the Stretford man attributes much of his success in the ring to his ability to train other fighters
Walkden ABC's first amateur show was a huge success with more than 750 people in attendance throughout the afternoon.
Held in Walkden Town Centre's Pembroke Hall, spectators filled the seating area in the hall and lined the balconies above. There were eleven skills bouts with clubs from throughout the north west taking part.
In partnership with Maverick Stars Trust, Walkden ABC opened in April 2021 and has proved immensely popular with an ever-growing stable of young boxers.
The project to open a gym in the area proved problematic for Maverick founder Charlotte Gilley and Walkden's former European champion Jamie Moore, but locals are now reaping the rewards and the future is bright.
Thanks to our friend Lee Hogan and ViP Boxing for putting together a video of the day.
April Hunter is desperate to get back in the ring with the woman who ended her perfect record. Kirsty Bavington was victorious when the pair met in October last year, and it is a defeat that still rankles the Maverick Stars ambassador.
It has been a whirlwind few months for April since that night at the Newcastle Arena. The Geordie welterweight has switched camps from trainer Joe McNally in Liverpool to the Cheshire base of Peter Fury. The move has enabled her to train alongside world champion and friend Savannah Marshall on a daily basis.
The Geordie fighter believes huge improvements have already been under Fury’s guidance, and she cannot wait to showcase her skills in a rematch with Bavington.
“I’m on another level to Kirsty Bavington and I genuinely believe that,” said April. “I’m confident in my talent. It was a blip, I’ll put it right. I’m not being cocky or arrogant, I just genuinely believe that.”