Tommy Hodgson: “I would love to headline St James’ Park for a world title when the time is right.”
By Will Lott
Initially, a talented midfielder trialling at Newcastle United, Tommy “Hitman” Hodgson fights back in his home city this coming weekend as he looks to improve his record to 5-0. Tommy told FightPost about his early days before boxing.
“The team I first started playing for before I moved on to play for the county was called Newcastle City Juniors. We won everything and I was always on top of my game in football. I grew up with football from about the age of 7 till I was 14 as a centre midfielder.”
Despite battling for a contract with Newcastle at the time, Tommy still agreed to his first amateur fight at the age of 13 having been training in the sport for fitness.
“I think we were playing Sunderland at the time that I also took my first fight. After that, I stuck with the boxing.”
Whether it was nerves is unclear but Tommy had an unflattering start to his amateur career, suffering defeat in his first two fights.
“In my first fight I was actually winning but then I started to feel sick. I felt like I was retching a bit but I wasn’t actually being sick. The ref gave me a standing count and then I did it again so he stopped the fight. It happened in my first two fights. I did it again in the next one but this time, the ref knew it and I managed to get through the fight. I don’t know what it was, whether it was my gumshield or if it was nerves. I ended up losing my first two or three fights. At that time, I was younger but then I started to take it more seriously and I think I went on a 14-fight win streak.”
That win streak placed him in line to take full advantage of his newfound confidence and Tommy went on to have great success in his amateur career.
“I ended up getting my first England vest and representing them five times. I went in the ABAs and nobody really knew about me. I wasn’t really seen as anything. I beat the number one and two seeds and went onto win the ABAs and then got into Team GB. I think I had 70 or 80 fights.”
Despite a successful career, a change in weight divisions at the Olympics limited Tommy’s chances of representing GB and led to his decision to turn to the pro ranks.
“At the time I was fighting at 60kg but that weight got taken away at the Olympics to make room for two females weights. I think there were five or six of us that could have competed for 63kg but I wasn’t the best. I was left with a decision to have another fight in the amateurs or to just turn professional. At the time I was 24 so I thought why not. I’ve always thought the pro ranks would suit me better.”
As with many newly turned professionals, Hodgson had to deal with the Covid outbreak and put his time in lockdown to good use.
“Me and my coach just hid ourselves away. I just learned the transition, slowed things down and looked at the different sides of the professional game. It was taking a while for everything to come through with medicals and waiting for my licence. I just kept grinding in the gym, making sure everything was ticked off ready for when I turned over.”
Despite this, Hodgson has been fortunate enough to have all of his fights in front of fans which will allow him to continue to build his fanbase.
“People say you only get one debut and mine was amazing. I was on cloud nine when I got in that ring. Where I’m from, everyone’s loyal, they’ll follow you anywhere you go. My first four professional fights have been away from home, so the amount of people that have travelled to watch me, I respect them massively. This time around, I’m fighting a lot closer. I’m going to need some more tickets for this one because I think I’ve sold about 250 in the first two weeks.”
Now 4-0, Hodgson is managed by Jamie Sheldon of One Empire Management and has put total trust in his team to guide his career.
“As soon as I met Jamie and the team, I just trusted them. We’re on the phone almost every day. He’s a nice bloke and we’ve got a good relationship. At the time with Covid, I was a bit stuck, I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was going. Jamie just told me, you get fit and I’ll sort the rest out. He took a lot of weight off my shoulders. He helps with my social media, sponsorships, the fights. I really appreciate what he does for me. Everything he said he’d do, he’s done. It was a no brainer to sign with him.”
As a huge Newcastle United fan, Hodgson’s dream would be a world title fight to headline at St James Park (Newcastle United’s stadium), although he acknowledges he has a way to go before that can be a reality.
“I don’t really get the chance to go to the games. I end up going to watch it somewhere but not in the ground. I usually just chill on the weekend. I prefer just being in calm company. I would rather sit in my house with my slippers and dressing gown on, watching the match then having someone grab me celebrating when Newcastle score, especially after a hard week of training. I would love to headline St James’ Park for a world title when the time is right. Imagine getting that place packed out but I’ll take it fight by fight.”
Tommy returns to action this Saturday night live on Fightzone.