Nino Severino: Meet Reece Cattermole, the country’s only deaf pro boxer
- Credit: Archant
In his latest column, Nino Severino meets Ipswich boxer Reece Cattermole, who has a remarkable story to tell and high hopes of making his name in the prize ring.
My background as an athlete comes from a fighting – I was selected for the England karate Ssuad by the legendary coach Ticky Donovan and won three national titles, including the NAK national kickboxing title.
This means whenever I meet an athlete who is involved in a fighting sport I have a connection, and that’s exactly what happened when I met Reece Catermole, the only deaf professional boxer in the UK.
As a young boy he enjoyed being part of group activities, and was a child who wanted to be involved, but his hearing condition - a degenerative condition which means he is slowly losing his hearing – made him different.
Reece told me: “I felt like I could never be a part of something because I used to feel isolated, not ashamed but embarrassed if I didn’t understand what was going on or having to ask people to repeat themselves several times.
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“I had no understanding of my condition, how it came about, the level of my hearing etc, I was just a young boy with big ambitions, trying to figure out where I fitted in the world.”
A few months ago I visited Gary Staff’s Ipswich Boxing Academy, and wrote one of my columns on this very talented fighter, who now devotes his life to being a coach to those who want to learn the art of Muay Thai, kickboxing and more.
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So it was no surprise when I asked Reece how he first got involved in boxing, and he told me: “When I was 11-years-old, there was a guy called Gary Staff, who hosted a short taster boxing session to promote his club.
“I never knew what boxing was, but I was a curious boy, so I decided to check it out. The next thing I knew, I was running around the hall doing fitness, getting warm and feeling my arms burning through doing the pad work.
“I felt like a new person who has a chance at something I enjoy. Gary had motivated and inspired me, I wanted to continue experiencing boxing, and hoped to pursue a career in the sport eventually.”
Ipswich boxer Rory Burke has also played an important part in Reece’s boxing journey, coaching him for years.
Reece told me: “I didn’t tell Rory I was deaf until years later because I felt it might ruin my chances of having my first amateur fight and becoming a boxer, but that was never the case.
“I felt that no matter who you are, how old you are, what disability you have, there is always a place for everyone in this world, and anything is possible.”
During one of his training sessions, Reece was told that one of the UK’s top boxing promoters, Stephen Goodwin, was travelling to the gym and wanted to watch him work – and he clearly was very impressed with what he saw, as he offered him a three-year professional contract under Goodwin Boxing Promotions. Reece went on to make his professional debut earlier this year at the famed York Hall in Bethnal Green, and duly won.
As I listened to Reece, I thought how sport has been such a massive life changer for this young man.
He told me: “During my first fight, when the bell rang, it took me back to that young boy who felt isolated because of his hearing condition, but then I thought, I’m proud to be different, I don’t need to be anyone but myself and I just smiled.
“I pounced towards my opponent, I started boxing, fighting like my life depended on it, and I felt like I had this power, a power that made me feel confident in myself, and to be proud of who I am, never had I felt this power previously!
“At the end of the first round, the referee called the fight and my opponent refused to come out of his corner, so it was announced I had won by TKO!”
I finished by asking Reece what his boxing goals are. He said: “I want to fight for the Southern Area title in 2019, I the Commonwealth title in 2020 and the British title in 2021.
“I want to be sitting in the top five in the middleweight division in Great Britain, and hopefully one day in the world’s top 10.”
Based on his determination and will to succeed, I think he has the right to think big!
- Reece also thanked his sponsors, StrategiQ, Digital Dimensions, Chaos Boxing Equipment, ISC GYM, Harriet Cadman Consultancy Service, Baba Z Barbers, G.M.Taylor Independent Funeral Directors, JDNutrition (Herbalife 24), Dave Chapman Ltd MOT & Service, Mutual Medi and SH sports therapy.