Dewsbury’s two-time British boxing champion Gary Sykes has vowed to give something back to the local community and is looking at a number of projects to help get youngsters off the streets, while also assisting people with similar mental health issues to which he has gone through.
In an emotional interview, Sykes has opened up about problems he has faced since his retirement from boxing but having turned his back on alcohol and found a new focus in life, he wants to pass on his experiences to others.
Throughout his career, Sykes was proud to showcase the good things Dewsbury had to offer, promoting the town in the many interviews he did after becoming British Champion.
Sykes is now looking to apply for grants which would help him set up a Community Development Company — allowing him to pass on his experiences as a top level sportsman.
On Tuesday, Sykes was due to host a fitness session with local children at the Chickenley Community Centre, while he plans to visit his former School — Westmoor Primary — to hold an assembly to highlight the success which can be achieved.
Sykes also realises this could be his last chance to forge a career out of boxing and is determined to make it succeed.
He said: “I know I need to follow a different routine if I am going to achieve my goal of rebuilding my life after professional sport.
“I now want to give something back to the sport which gave me so much over a long period.
“I would like to work with troubled youths to give them a focus and steer them away from knife crime.
“I’d also like to promote mental health awareness and highlight the ability to turn your life around.”
Sykes admitted that training for a recent charity boxing match also helped give him a new focus.
He added: “The recent opportunity to participate in a charity boxing match in aid of a local rugby team gave me the focus I need to pull my life together.
“Training every day, challenging my body and dieting was the perfect recipe for me to get back to my former self and regain a disciplined life with good moral standards.
“I was amazed and grateful at the level of support and encouragement I received from friends and others in the sporting arena and I would not have succeeded without this support.
“I want to play a prominent role in promoting the value of boxing for the benefit to children and the local community in general.
“It would provide a focus and interest for local children who otherwise may choose to follow the wrong track.
“It would also give me the opportunity to pass on some of my boxing and fitness experience, while highlighting the positive effects of sport in creating a healthy body and mind.
“The encouragement I received leading up to the charity fight has confirmed that there is much support for this initiative.”
Mentor Ian Murray helped Gary get off the booze, as they trained together for their charity bout, which was held at the Station Pub in Dewsbury in September.
Murray realises is could be a long road ahead for but is hoping Sykes can show the champion spirit which saw him win a Lonsdale Belt and become a household name on the British boxing scene:
Murray said: “The hardest battle for Gary is not getting funding for the projects or whether he can teach kids, his biggest fight is him been sober.
“Gary’s problem is self confidence but he needs to focus on what he achieved in boxing and how inspirational he can be within the community.”