The Oltai Interviews: Tommy Frank
By Paul Oltai
This weekend in Sheffield at the Ponds Forge Arena on the Dennis Hobson promoted show live on Freesports, we see Sheffield native and rising super flyweight prospect Tommy Frank currently 9-0 with 1 ko fighting for the vacant Commonwealth title.
After making his debut in July 2016 Tommy has found himself in only his 10th bout fighting for the vacant Commonwealth strap, hailing from the Sheffield Boxing Centre where he is not only a pro but also where he started as an amateur. Amassing around 45 fights as an amateur and winning a handful of Yorkshire titles also making it to the quarter finals of the elite nationals
‘I am very proud of that, you don’t often get boxers having their amateur career in a gym then staying there to be a pro as well but that is the beauty of the Sheffield Boxing Centre, it is an amateur and a pro gym.’
Training in such an established amateur/pro gym you could not blame Tommy if he had
always had one eye on the professional side of the sport, surrounded by talent in the gym with the likes of Sam Sheedy, Lee Edwards and John Fewkes would your focus ever truly be on the amateur game when you can witness what these are producing as professionals?
Ahead of his fight this weekend I managed to catch up with Tommy and spoke to him about his career so far and what first made him want to be a professional boxer.
What made you want to be a boxer initially?
‘To be honest like, it wasn’t my Dad or anything it was one of my cousins he used to box for Sheffield Boxing and had a handful of amateur fights. Then when I used to go up my
uncle’s house he had a punchbag in his entrance way and can always remember being
around 10,11 or 12 and messing around with that punchbag. I used to get my cousins videos and he used to watch a lot of Mike Tyson and stuff and I can always remember watching them.
“Then one Saturday morning my Dad took me down to Sheffield Boxing Centre, I really liked boxing but I was playing football at the same time and I was just training with a team but I was never really any good at football. When I started boxing I think my Dad could see something in my you know like I had a bit of natural talent, so when I was training about 13 I did just a couple of years training couple of times a week while I was playing football. Then when I was about 14 my Dad just said look I think you are a lot better a boxer than a footballer and I would rather you just put everything into boxing. Then from then on that is what I did and I had my first amateur fight when I was 15 and then boxing is all I have ever done since.’
What team do you have around you?
‘In Sheffield Boxing Centre I have Glyn Rhodes MBE as my trainer and manager, he is the
guy that runs the show. I have also got Matthew Mowat Bem he is a fantastic trainer, again I have known both of them from being like 12 years of age from when I first started. I have come right through with them and we have a great bunch of lads down at SBC it is a real family unit and you know the most important thing is it is a very happy gym and I think that is what makes it very successful and one of the reasons we are getting a lot of success as of late because it is just a happy place to be full of positivity.’
Do you think winning that Commonwealth belt and taking it back to show the young amateurs in your place will help inspire another generation?
‘I can remember being a young amateur coming up and being inspired by the pro’s that we had then when we had the likes of John Fewkes, your Sam Sheedys, Carl Wilds, and Lee Edwards and all them guys where pro’s when I was a young amateur. So I was definitely looking up to them and I have seen Sam Sheedy go on to win the same Commonwealth belt himself and that has been a big inspiration for me, I had probably had 3 or 4 pro fights when he won that so it was a massive inspiration for me and it is there and it is all about how bad you want it.’
What would you say are your aspiration in boxing?
‘I honestly believe I will be a world champion and I don’t think there is any point aiming low in boxing you know even now before I was pro, the sort of life I was dreaming of living 3 years ago I am doing it now. So the day-dream I was having back then about boxing full-time and boxing for title’s and people talking about me that is all starting to happen now so I just think why not? The sky is the limit and if you have a good team around you know you have the right people guiding you and obviously you know Glyn working with Dennis Hobson is a match made in heaven and I think we can go as far as we really want to you know.’
What style of fighter would you say you are?
‘I think I am definitely a boxer but to be honest with you up to now I have only really shown I am a good boxer but you know especially lately we have been working on us letting our hands go a bit more and obviously I only have the one stoppage in 9 wins but I don’t think that reflects the power I have. I am not saying I am a one punch knock out artist but I definitely think I can punch for the weight I am at so I think that is definitely what we have been trying to work on lately. We know I can box and we know I can look good doing it, I am not saying I want to come in hands up go forward and have a war, but we have defo been working on letting us hands go more and you will see that in this next fight for sure.’
Assuming you are victory in fighting for the Commonwealth, where would you like the next 12 months to take you?
‘To be honest I just want to keep winning but firstly keep progressing, to be honest I am not one of them fighters who sits and call everyone out and asks to fight because at the weight I am at in super flyweight you are going to get the opportunities. You don’t need to be calling everyone out, if I was a middleweight and ranked like number 40 you know maybe I would have to do that but I know I don’t have to do that. It is only my tenth fight and I am boxing for the Commonwealth title. So the main thing I want to do is stay in the gym keep my feet on the ground, keep improving every day and keep listening to Glyn my trainer and I am very confident. Working with Dennis Hobson and Steve Crump, then with Glyn all working together, Dennis Hobson knows what he is doing and has a proven track record that speaks for itself so I am happy for them 3 to take care of what and who I box. My only job as a fighter is to train hard and beat whoever is put in front of me.’
If you did manage to secure a world title fight in the future where would your dream venue be to fight at for it?
‘Do you know I think as a fighter every boxer dreams of fighting in America, I think when you have boxed in places like Madison Square Garden in New York and MGM in Vegas you know you have realised established yourself then and you can always say you have boxed there. So for any fighter including myself that would be the ultimate dream, but whether I could win a world title in Sheffield or win a world title abroad and bring it back to Sheffield then I would love to box in Sheffield for a world title. Obviously I am not getting ahead of myself with me just starting out but if I am really thinking about what I want that would be it. I would love to box at Bramall Lane being a blades fan, I have boxed there twice but in the suites but would love to box on the actual pitch and that would be a dream of mine one day.’
So what would you say you find hardest about professional boxing compared to being an amateur?
‘To be honest it is completely different, if you are going to be a professional boxer and you are serious about going somewhere you have got to give it everything, it is one of them sports where you have to give it all or nothing. You can’t do it half heartedly, so when I was an amateur and I was working I was just doing labouring for a local builder but when it came time to turn pro I knew I had to give it everything and I just packed in my job. Then fortunately for me I have a lot of good sponsors who help me train full-time and dedicate myself to what I love to do which is boxing.’
What do you do outside of boxing?
‘Do you know I don’t do a lot or much else other than boxing, obviously I have got girlfriend we have been together 6 years now. But apart from boxing I just train and go home, I eat, sleep and rest then see my girlfriend, see my family and friends then back to gym. That is basically it for me, I don’t do too much else than this. I give boxing everything, even when I am not training I am thinking about boxing and thinking what I can do to better myself. I live boxing. Boxing you only have a short window and I am 25 now and ideally you don’t know what the future holds but by 32-33 I want to be out of boxing. It is about getting in, making some money for your family and kids and then getting out and being able to enjoy it all. When I retire from boxing I want to have the knowledge to try to train fighters and stuff like that. Ideally though when I finish boxing I want to be in the position where I don’t have to do anything for the rest of my life.’
Do you have any sponsors you would like to give a thank you to?
‘Without the help of Nick Firth Tiles, G.Siddons civil engineering, Worksop timber company, AutoBarn motors, TOMAH engineering, Innovation Alloys, Imagine sign studio and LB sports therapy I would not be able to be doing what I love and that is boxing.’