Coach helped British title dream become reality

Retiring trainer Julian McGowan.
Retiring trainer Julian McGowan.

When Julian McGowan sits down to reflect on a career in professional boxing spanning over two decades, he can proudly look back on being the man who guided Gary Sykes to British title glory.

McGowan had trained Sykes in the early days as an amateur but moved into the professional ranks to coach Mally McIver, who won 12 out of 15 bouts and fought for a Central Area title before retiring in 2003.

McGowan and Sykes teamed back up in February 2006 when the Dewsbury man stopped former Welsh champion Dai Davies in three rounds.

The journey to the top of British boxing was never easy as McGowan spent countless hours driving across the north of England to find the best sparring opponents for his rising star.

Having defeated Anthony Crolla in a British title eliminator in May 2009, Sykes was forced to wait 10 months before getting a shot at winning the Lonsdale belt.

McGowan came up with the perfect gameplan as Sykes beat Andy Morris in a thrilling contest at Huddersfield Sports Centre in March 2010.

McGowan’s meticulous planning became a trademark of further Sykes successes as the Dewsbury boxer twice defended his British title.

McGowan contemplated retirement following Sykes’s British title defeat to Gary Buckland in September 2011 but with the support of family and close friends was determined to get his charge back to the top.

That path took another 32 months, fighting on small hall shows, including an English title victory over previously unbeaten Kevin Hooper in March 2013.

McGowan delivered his promise of helping Sykes recapture the British super featherweight title against Jon Kays in Dewsbury last May.

McGowan has trained other boxers, with Zahid Kahut, Michael Smith, James Ancliff and unbeaten Dewsbury prospect Tony Aitcheson, to name a few, and can retire from the pro game with his head held high.