An Exclusive Interview With Dec Spelman
By Paul Oltai
I had the pleasure of speaking to light-heavyweight Dec Spelman 12(07)-1-0 ahead of his involvement in the 2nd instalment of Ultimate Boxxer on Friday 2nd November at the Indigo O2 , a format in which 8 fighters fight for 3 x 3 minute rounds in what is essentially a quarter final, a semi final then the final bout. With the winner picking up a very healthy prize pot of £50,000. With live music and a guest entertainment slot from none other than Charlie Sloth this has the potential to be a huge night of all round entertainment.
Dec has been involved in the sport of boxing from around the age of 14 firstly following along with some mates as a way to keep fit but the sport has always been part of his family sports viewing so wasn’t totally a new concept to him.
Taking a little gap from the sport and returning when he was 17, Dec as they say had the bug and with some amateur experience but nothing really of note, finding himself due to a baby he decided he wanted to try and become a road fighter to allow him to support his new family member.
This is when you could say luck struck for Del as he was given a name of a promoter to pop along and see who may be able to help him fulfil them plans. This man was Carl Greaves who is not only Dec’s promoter but also his manager and trainer, a trio of jobs quite often taken up by 3 different men,
‘My trainer, manager and promoter is all one guy. It’s Carl Greaves, I went to Carl originally to go on the road and earn a few quid because my lad was being born and I was a bit skint. I knew what I did best and I liked fighting and thought why not earn a few quid out of it? So I went down to see him after being advised to by a friend, I knew he was a Midlands area promoter so I went and had a chat with him. We went on the pads and got on really well. I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him and now I know the game a lot better I know that is a very hard thing to come across. He told me I would struggle to get fights on the road as simple of that because I had ability and was no donut really.
‘He asked me to have a look at selling tickets and I will admit to begin with I really struggled and after two fights I was only doing around 50-60 tickets a fight, to be fair any other promoter would have lost interest simple as that and wouldn’t have given me the time of day, but Carl must have seen something in me he liked and in the end it paid off because he believed in me enough to do a show in Scunthorpe and I did around 450 tickets for that from my front door.’
With Greaves having a plan to keep Dec local and build up a following and hold a professional boxing night for the first time in 16 years in his hometown of Scunthorpe he was becoming quite a local hero with them not having many others to focus their boxing needs on. This allowed Dec to be able to host British and International challenge belt bouts for his local following to see, successfully winning both in his home town.
In managing to bring professionally boxing back to Scunthorpe I asked Dec whether this was his proudest moment of his career so far?
‘Coming from someone who was just going to go on the road having that first fight back in Scunthorpe was definitely my best moment so far. The fight itself was also quite bitter sweet for me against a guy called Carl Wild, who about 5 years previous had absolutely battered me in sparring. I went all the way to Sheffield to spar him and he give me a beating ha ha. But in that fight it just showed me how far I had come along in 5 years, I stopped him in the 2nd round and I obliterated him. Before that fight though I was cacking my pants.’
Having amassed 11 wins with 7 knock outs the fighter known as Kid Nytro felt his career was going great, packing out home arenas and putting Scunthorpe back on the boxing map. It was in his 12th bout as a professional though that tragedy struck, not in the ring but following the fight his opponent Scott Westgarth who had actually won the bout on points and climbed from the canvas in the final round to do so lost his life after collapsing and never recovering from this. I was very grateful that Dec was so forthcoming in speaking about this tragedy in the build up to a tournament which could change his life.
Did you know anything was wrong in the ring on the night?
‘The fight itself was a very hard fight for both of us and you know obviously I lost on a points decision. The last round was a very hard one for Scott but the Dr’s have said the damage was already done previous to that, no one has x-ray eyes so we where to never know at the time. He was very heavy on his feet which I put down to exhaustion because it was a very tough round and he had gotten up off the canvas in that final round also.
‘He did an interview after the bout and was talking ok, then went back to the changing rooms then it all went down hill. We had changing rooms next to each other and I went to see him and congratulate him on the win and wish him best for the future and give him a hug, then in the morning when I got the news it was all very much up in the air and it was all just a very surreal situation to be in. I am not going to let his tragedy be for no reason and need to turn this into a positive if only to honour him, I now fight with his name on my shorts.
‘If anything can come out of this tournament and I am able to box for the English title don’t get me wrong if a Brit shot come up I would take that but our fight was an eliminator for the English title. So if I can win an English title I would love to win that belt and give it to his Dad that would be an amazing touch to be able to do.’
How have you been able to move forward beyond this tragedy and was it hard to get back to boxing?
‘I didn’t do nothing until after the funeral and that was about 3 months after he passed. It was a long hard time for me, it was hard to try and deal with all the media side and stuff like that. I believe that has now helped me though and when I speak to the likes of yourself and others I can be more fluent about it but it wasn’t always like that it has come over time.
‘It’s done now and to move on I need to put it to the back of my mind but I do still think about it every day. But I don’t want to let his tragedy be for nothing. I met with his brother and his Dad two weeks after it had happened on my own and that was very hard. I didn’t know what to expect as we had only met briefly beforehand. With emotions being high I didn’t know how it would go but they where amazing. They welcomed me with open arms, the whole reason to meet was so they could let me know it was alright and they even told me they wanted me to carry on. I sat with them and listened to stories from good times and got to know a lot more about him as a person and not just an opponent, they got to know me as well.’
With the Ultimate Boxxer now his sole focus after having that solitary bout since the tragedy winning on points over 4 rounds I asked Dec what most caught his attention about the format?
‘To me it was the 3 x 3 minute rounds. I was never really suited to the amateurs, it was 100mph but pitter patter punches point scoring, in the pros it’s a hard mans game. You’re stood in front of each other letting them go. The thing is with this one there is a lot of money at stake and people are going to really want it and are going to come out swinging in them little 10oz gloves, they hurt. It’s right up my street, I will be coming out all guns blazing. I can’t wait I am really excited.’
With this format of Ultimate Boxxer tending to suit fighters who bring it hard from the opening bell and don’t like to warm into a fight I asked Dec what he thought most suited him to the 3 bout tournament set up?
‘My power. Going back to when I was doing the 4 rounders I was blasting people out in 1st and 2nd rounds because I didn’t have to keep anything in the tank. I get that if I go through and win I will have to do 9 rounds but we are training for that. When we trained for the 4 rounders I was wiping people out because I was going out like a mad man on a mission. That’s what I will be going back to and that’s what I like doing.’
‘Obviously as a fighter progresses from 4 rounds onwards through 6, 8, 10 and then to 12 rounds fights they adjust their training methods to allow them the stamina to compete as best their skill set allows them in the last round as in the first, but with Ultimate Boxxer taking them back to short sharp fights’
I asked Dec if he had altered his training methods to best suit this?
‘In the perfect world I would like 3 sparring partners in and do it like the proper format. But I work in a factory where even though they have been great with me especially around the whole Scott situation it is hard to do that. It would need to be like a 4 hour session. I have got to be real so what we have done is all aimed at keeping me fresh for example instead of doing like 6 rounds on the pads 6 on the bags and 6 shadow boxing with 30 seconds rest in between, we have now mixed it up and will do 3’s instead at a faster pace so your heart rate is going. Everything is in 3’s with 1 minute rest in between like the actual fights. It just makes sense.’
With 7 other fighters Jordan Joseph, Joel McIntyre, Darrell Church, Sam Horsfall, John McCallum, Sam Smith and Shakkan Pitters also in this tournament I asked who Dec felt was his biggest threat to the 50 grand prize and why?
‘Everybody is a threat when money is involved you know. It will make people do things they didn’t think possible on the night and you are going to get the best out of everyone on the night. The name that do stick out to me though are McIntyre and Shakkan Pitters. Pitters is going to be very tough. I am really interested to see how he makes weight to be honest. You can’t blag a blagger and I want to see how he gets on them scales and if he has to kill himself to make them scales and gets caught cold it is going to be a horrible night for him. But if he can do it and does it well he is a massive danger to this competition because he is very long and has a good jab so will be a handful.’
Every boxer to succeed in this sport needs the backing of a good team behind him and Dec has asked me to give a big shout out to his sponsors LH Hydraulics Ltd, Mulligans Sports Bar and Spelmans Butchers. We these he would not be able to even think of entering this tournament.
For more information on the 2nd instalment of Ultimate Boxxer which is being held on the 2nd of November at the Indigo O2, London and broadcast live on 5Spike visit their social media and come along to the event or tune in as this promises to be and eventful night of light-heavyweight boxing with guest appearances from Paulie Malignaggi, Ricky Hatton and Anthony Crolla.