Saturday’s Book Club Fear No Foe Chapter 1
Saturday’s Book Club
Fear No Foe
By Dexter Hastings
This is the new weekly part of the Birmingham Boxing Column where I put a chapter out of a book I wrote over 4 years ago and put on the site for you to read. It is a story about a boxer going threw the amateurs and becoming a professional boxer and all the ups and downs that came with it. This book is still being sold on lulu.com and is £10 on the site, there may be a few spelling mistakes as this is an early copy of the book, but if you take that out of the equation I think you will enjoy it. Hope you enjoy chapter 1.
To my gorgeous and wonderful children Deanna, Conor, Shay and Charlie-Ann Hastings, thank you for bringing nothing, but joy and happiness into my life. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me I love you all you are my world.
To Dean Martin, Bomber Martin and Martin Canning for inspiring some of the story line with their great tails from when they were amateur boxers.
Many thanks to my best friends Mark Grant and Dawn Stokes for listening to me waffle on about the book for the last 8 months and inspiring characters in the book it’s self.
I also have to thank Paddy Martin, my old trainer and adopted Dad inspiring more than one character in the book.
To Sophie Martin-Canning, International bestselling author, of Kissed by the angels, for giving me encouragement and some good advice.
To Claire Hynes, a great friend who was one of the first to read Fear No Foe and gave me her honest opinion on the book, you have always given me good advice and inspired a character in the book.
To Sherrill Hall for proof reading the book for me and giving me some great ideas for Fear No Foe and my first book, Dexter Have I Told You Yet. Without your help the books would not look or read as well as they do, you have been the biggest help in getting my novel finished and for that I thank you.
This book is dedicated to my Mom Christine Hastings
I think of you every day and wish you were still with us, R.I.P Mom
Hope I Made You Proud.
This is a fictional book; none of the characters in the book are based on anyone alive or dead.
Some of the story in the book are based on true events, but has been changed to fit the story so cannot be taken as actual fact.
All Characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
You may find when reading Fear No Foe that the characters are not described in the greatest of detail. I have purposely written the book like this so that you the reader have to use you own imagination to form what you think the characters would look like. This may not be the most conventional way of writing, but in my eyes it will draw you more into the book as you form the characters in your own mind.
Fear No Foe is a fictional story, but I have taken stories from my own life and friends lives and mixed them into the fictional story of Shay Dempsey’s quest to become world champion.
All of the amateur fights in the book are based on true events to give them realism, but have been changed to fit in to the story line of the book and cannot be taken as actual fact.
I hope you enjoy the book
FEAR NO FOE
You could hear the crowd roar the name of England’s favourite boxing Son, “Britain, Britain, Britain” from the capacity crowd of 105000 at the new Wembley Stadium London.
London born Gary “Great” Britain was defending his World Super Middleweight title for the 3rd time against Birmingham born and number 1 contender Shay Dempsey.
Gary unbeaten in 25 professional fights is the golden boy of British and World boxing. He has had to take this fight as Shay is the mandatory I.B.F contender and to finally avenge the 1 big defeat he endured in his amateur career to the then very talented Shay Dempsey in an A.B.A British championship final.
Kenny Case, Shay’s long time trainer, coach and manager from since he was an amateur is taping Shays hands up in the changing room. Shay’s hands are shacking with nerves, Kenny can see this and asks “You o.k. Son”?
Shay pauses for a second then says “Well if I’m not, I’m fucked aint I”.The whole room fills with laughter and the tensions are lifted.
The story really starts 18 years earlier when Mickey Dempsey, Shays Dad brought him to Case’s Gym.
Kenny Case the owner and main trainer at the gym took Shay under his wing from the start; Kenny could see this scrawny 11 year old had something special. Kenny was an ex professional boxer, he had done quite well in his career, but never got that big chance to fight for any major titles and injury had cut his career short.
Case’s Gym was a proper old school gym, 2 full size rings and an assortment of punch bags. The décor at the gym was distressed to say the least; old boxing posters put over where the plaster was coming off the walls and that distinct smell of leather and sweat in the air.
After only 6 months of training at the gym Shay got his amateur
License. Kenny got him his first fight straight away, which he won easily with a first round knockout. Shay had 20 fights in his first 3 years as an amateur boxer and won them all by stoppage. Shay had not had the chance to fight for any titles at this time as he suffered a re-occurring hand injury that had kept him out of some of the big fights. Shay was already getting a big reputation for himself and was already nick named ‘The Hammer’.
Shay was an only child, his Dad was a builder and worked hard to put food on the table, but his Dad also liked a drink and to gamble on the horses where he nearly always lost. Money was always tight, Shay’s mother, Brenda was a housewife. Shay’s Dad wouldn’t let her work as he was old school and wanted to provide for his family. Shay’s Mom was very house proud and always kept their home immaculate even if they didn’t have much money.
His parents were both Irish and very proud of the fact, Shay’s Dad used to tell him about his great grandfather Paddy Dempsey, being the best bare knuckle fighter in all of Ireland. His Dad also tried to tell Shay he was related to one of the world’s greatest champions Jack Dempsey, but Shay never really believed this. His Dad loved that Shay was doing so well in the boxing and liked nothing more than telling anyone who would listen how his Son would one day be world champion. Shay’s Mom wasn’t as keen on Shay boxing, she didn’t want to have her only child hurt and never went to see him box.
Mickey and Brenda Dempsey moved to the newly built estate right next to the city centre of Birmingham, when they got married in the early 70’s.
Newtown had a lot of promise, close to the city centre, lots of work available and its own shopping centre. It was the place to live when they moved in; they felt very lucky to have got it. They ended up buying the house under the Thatcher Scheme in the mid 80’s, but as the years went by Newtown as an area went right down, as the recession and the lack of jobs took its toll on the area. By the time Shay was 14 it was classed as one of the roughest areas in Birmingham.
Drugs, mugging and burglary were rife in the area which was now a mixing pot of English, Irish, Jamaican and Asian families. Shay was never bothered about what colour people were and the lads he hung round with were a mix of all cultures. Apart from the boxing Shay was just a normal kid, he loved playing football with his mates and used to get into all kinds of trouble at school. Shay just wasn’t interested in learning and used to play truant more times than actually going to school. Shay wasn’t thick; he was quite a cleaver lad, but just hated going to school.
One of Shays closest friends was a girl called Kelly Carey; she had lived next door to Shay since they were babies. Kelly was a very cleaver girl a Grade “A” student; she loved to learn and tried so hard to get Shay to come to school, but to no avail.
As Shay got more and more of a reputation for himself, he and Kelly saw less and less of each other, as he started to hang out with a bad lot of lads from his area. The lads he was hanging round with now were all older than him, they were all between 16 and 18 and Shay was only 14 at this time. They all lived around the top of Newtown near where Shay lived and were known as the T.S.F (Top Side Firm). There were quite a few gangs in Newtown and the T.S.F were one of the smallest gangs around, but were notorious for being game to fight anyone, especially with Shay in their firm.
They would go to different areas looking to fight that areas gang. The T.S.F’s party trick was to get Shay to take on the others gangs top boys in a 1 on 1. Shay would destroy them with great ease, which would be quite embarrassing for the lad he was fighting as Shay was always at least 2 years younger than them.
One of Newtown’s main rivals was an area called Kingstanding, Newtown as a whole had always had a problem with them and there had been many a fight between the areas over the years.
One of the T.S.F lads had been caught up Kingstanding coming home from visiting his girlfriend by about 10 of the Kingstanding firm. They gave him a right kicking; he had been beaten so bad they had put him in hospital with a broken jaw and 4 broken ribs. Shay and his mates went to see him in hospital and he told them that their top boy “Chav” had told him to give Shay a message just before they battered him.
He said “Tell that little fucker Shay that he aint shit and I would have him anytime”.
Chav was 20 years old and the top boy of the Kingstanding Firm, he was a proper horrible cunt, and he robbed and bullied all the younger lads. Chav hated the fact that Shay had already got this reputation by the age of 14. He had been heard saying to his mates “Boxer or no boxer, he’s 14 I’d kick the shit out of him”.
Shay asked his mates to get all the boys together as he wanted to go up to the pub in Kingstanding where Chav and his boys drank to sort him out.
The Topside firm was only 30 strong at best and a lot of the lads thought going up there was a suicide mission. A lot of Shays so called mates didn’t turn up at the meeting place, it ended up that only 7 of them including Shay got on the 33 bus up to Kingstanding.
The bus ride up there was quiet, none of them were talking. They were all focused and ready for the biggest fight of their lives. Shay had an intense look on his face, a look like he was just about to get into the ring which was bad news for Chav.
They stepped off the bus in Kingstanding just across the road from the pub. Chav was standing outside with a pint and a cigarette in his hand with a few of his boys. The Newtown lads had got lucky; there were only about 12 of the Kingstanding firm in the pub, it could have been a lot worse for them. Shay and his mates walked across the road straight up to the pub. Chav saw them and told one of his lads standing outside with him to get the rest of them out of the pub.
Chav cocky as ever started walking towards Shay and the 6 other boys from the T.S.F shouting loudly
“You want some Shay? Come on Newtown!”
Shay just walked straight up to Chav and smashed him in the face with a wicked straight right. Chav hit the floor, his nose bust and bleeding. Shay then grabbed him and picked him up back on to his feet and said
“Come on then Chav, you’re the big man! Let’s see if you can knock out a kid”.
Chav threw a half hearted punch at Shay which he slipped out of the way and hit Chav with 2 devastating body shots which put Chav down again.
The Kingstanding lot came steaming out the pub and the other 6 Newtown boys went for them. Chav screamed at Shay that he had, had enough, but Shay was on one and stood Chav back to his feet and hit him with a wicked right hook which knocked Chav spark out.
Shay was in a complete rage and went to help the rest of the Topside Firm with the rest of the Kingstanding mob. Shay went through them like a knife through butter; knocking 4 of them spark out before the rest of them had it on their toes and ran off. Shay and the other 6 Newtown boys had done it; they had gone up to Kingstanding and took them on outside their own pub. As the Newtown lads were shouting after the Kingstanding boys who had ran off, Shay felt an all too familiar feeling in his hand. Shay knew the pain oh so well, he had broken his hand yet again.
He wrapped his coat around his hand to support it, Shay and the rest of the Newtown lads made their way back home on the bus.
The trip home on the bus was completely different to the one going there, all the lads were chatting and laughing saying things like “Did you see me do this” and “What about when I done that”. The only one who wasn’t laughing and chatting was Shay, he knew that he had broken his hand again and he would be out of the championships again. He was pissed off about this himself, but was more worried about what his Dad and Kenny would say when they found out.
Shay didn’t bother going home he went straight to the hospital; they contacted Shays parents who came straight up. The X-ray showed that Shay had indeed broken his right hand in 2 places; he was going to be out of boxing for at least a year.
When his parents got to the hospital they asked him how he had done it, Shay made up some story about being jumped by a gang of lads and had hurt it defending himself. His Mom believed him and was like “Ahh my poor boy”.
As for his Dad, he knew there was more to it than that, as Shay didn’t have a scratch on him. His Dad didn’t say anything to his Mom about it, but just gave Shay a look to say he knew he was lying.
The news of what Shay and his 6 mates from the Topside firm had done in Kingstanding spread like wild fire, a 14 year old kid had knocked out the top boy of the Kingstanding firm. When the story was told they were known as the magnificent 7 and everyone got to hear about it.
The one person Shay really didn’t want to know about it was Kenny, as he knew he would not approve of what he had done. Shay went to the gym a few days later to see Kenny. As he walked into the gym the whole gym seemed to stop. A couple of the lads from the gym came up to Shay and said they had heard what he had done.
Shay was like “Keep it down man; I don’t want Kenny to find out”.
One of them said to him “It’s too late mate he already knows”.
The look on Shays face was one of a scared little boy.
He turned round to the lads and said “I got to go” as he went to walk out he heard Kenny bellow across the packed gym
“Shay get your fucking arse in my office now!”
Shay walked slowly to the office, he knocked on the door which had the gyms motto over it ‘Fear No Foe’!
He heard Kenny shout “Get in here”!
Shay came through the door and the onslaught started. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing, you stupid little fucker. You are going to fuck your whole boxing career up with shit like this, look at you how long did they say you would be out for?”
Shay said with his head bowed low “9 months to a year”.
Kenny screamed at him “You were already for the A.B.A Championships and now you have gone and fucked it up”. Kenny continued “So what the fuck you got to say for yourself?”
Shay replied “Kenny I’m sorry but him and his lads battered one of my mates, what was I supposed to do?”
Kenny said “I understand what you are saying Son, but you have got to think of your future, you have a God given gift, why not use it to better your own life, do you really want to live round here for the rest of your life? You have the chance to be one of the great boxers and you keep just fucking it up”.
Shay could not answer him.
Kenny put his hand on Shays shoulder and said “Look Son, go home think about what I have said, when your hand is better come back to the gym, but if you come back you leave all this gang shit behind you o.k.”
Shay looked at Kenny and said “O.k. Ken I will, I promise I’ll make you proud”.
Kenny just replied “Don’t do it to make me proud Son, do it to make yourself proud”.
Shay went home and thought about what Kenny had said to him, and knew that Kenny was right, he had a gift and could make his and his family’s lives so much better if he started to focus on what he needed to do.
Kelly came round to see Shay and told him the same thing, Kelly had never seen Shay box, she didn’t really like the sport, but from what she had been told she knew Shay had a talent for it.
Kelly asked him “What’s your dream? What do you want to be when you are older?” Shay replied straight away “Champion of the World, or even just a professional boxer”.
Kelly said to him “Well you are the only one who can make that happen Shay, you have the support of a lot of people, but you have to believe you can do it, start to concentrate on getting where you want to go and I know you can do it”.
This seemed to really inspire Shay, and when his Mom and Dad sat him down and talked to him he knew what he had to do.
His Dad said that “If you want it, it’s there for you. You have the chance to do something great”.
Shays Mom said to him “Son, you know I don’t like you boxing, but I know you, if you put your all into it you can be the best in the world, but you have got to focus on it”.
Shay took all this in and knew what he had to do, he told his mates in the T.S.F that he was done with it, he couldn’t be street fighting anymore, and he just wanted to concentrate on his boxing. Now this could have gone either way they really could have made Shays life hard for him, but these were proper mates and they respected his decision and would support him all the way.
Shays hand healed pretty quickly, after 6 months and now at the age of 15 he was back in the gym training. Kenny had never seen him so focused. The problem was no one wanted to fight Shay, his record was just too good. The only amateur boxer with a better record in his weight and age division was Gary Britain the current A.B.A British champ and ‘Golden Boy’ of amateur boxing. It did seem like they were deliberately being kept apart by the A.B.A’s board which Gary’s dad was the chairman of.
Shay did get quite a few bye’s in the area and district rounds and became champion of Birmingham and the Midlands county’s with great ease only fighting 4 times to win both titles.
Shay had another 2 fights to get to the semi finals of the British championships; he was going to take on Ronnie Docker from Manchester. Ronnie was from a big boxing family; his Dad had been an A.B.A British champ and went on to win the British title as a professional, so there were big expectations of Ronnie.
The fight was to be held in Manchester and the finals were just 2 weeks after.
Gary Britain had already got through to the finals by destroying James Thompson from Southampton in just one round a week before.
Shay went up to Manchester with his Dad and his trainer Kenny. Shay had a few of his mates making the trip up from Birmingham to support him, but was fighting one of the top amateur boxers in their home town so he knew he was up against it. Shay got to the show for the weigh in nice and early. The weigh in went well, he came in bang on the weight.
Ronnie Docker weighed in as well bang on the 10 stone weight so the fight was on, no problems.
Shay’s fight was 4th on a big amateur fight night, Ronnie Dockers gym had put the show on so there was big, big support for him.
Kenny could see Shay was nervous and asked him if he was ok.
Shay said “Yeah I’m fine Ken; Just don’t want to let you or my Dad down”.
Kenny smiled and said “Shay, you go out there Son just do your best and you won’t let anyone down”.
Shay replied “I will try my best Ken; I just hope its good enough”.
Kenny warmed Shay up with some light pad work so Shays body was ready for the job in hand. The call came for Shay to come out, he walked out to a warm round of applause apart from the cheers of his Dad and the 20 odd Newtown boys that had made the trip to support him. Shay entered the ring looking really focused. Ronnie Docker came out soon after to a massive roar and cheers from a home crowd of more than 500 people. Shay knew he was up against it.
Kenny turned to him and said “You’ve got to knock him out Son, there’s no way you are getting a decision here”.
Shay and Ronnie were called to the centre of the ring by the Ref to give them their final instructions. The crowd was still cheering; it was hard for both boxers to hear the Ref. They both just nodded like they could hear him and went back to their corners.
Shay came out like a man processed, trying to make every punch count, he hit Docker with some brutal body shots which pushed Docker to the ropes. Shay kept on with his body attack, but Docker tied him up well and the Ref came in and broke them up.
Docker got some distance between them and started pumping out a hard jab, and some, one, twos. Shay got his hands up and blocked most of them. There was 30 seconds to go in the first round and Shay knew he had to make every shot count. Shay got his own jab going and started to out box Docker pushing him back to the ropes yet again. With Docker on the ropes Shay came out with the combo Kenny Case teaches every boxer at his gym, left hook to the body then a left hook to the head followed by a straight right hand. Shay dispatched the shots like a seasoned pro catching him with everyone. Docker dropped to his knee to stop the onslaught and the Ref started to count, Shay went to a neutral corner and stood there. The arena went quite; only Shays Dad and friends could be heard cheering.
Docker got back to his feet after the count got to 6, the Ref continued to count until he got to 8, checked Docker was o.k. and told them to box on. The bell went a second later to finish the first round.
Shay sat down in his corner,
Kenny said “Well done Son that was excellent, keep it going he won’t be able to take another round like that”.
All Shay said was “He has got a wicked jab Ken; It’s hard to get passed”.
Kenny replied as he gave Shay some water “Well you have got passed it and you have put him down Son, he is going to be more worried about this round than you”.
Shay nodded and got up for the second round.
The 2 boxers met in the centre of the ring, Docker seemed to have recovered well from the knockdown and started pumping out the jab again. Shay was trying to slip passed Dockers jab, but for the first minute of the round Docker was to slick for him. Docker was moving really well and was controlling this round. Shay did get his own jab working and again got some good body shots in, but by the end of the round Docker seemed to be in control.
Shay sat down in the corner and Ken said “What the fuck are you doing Shay? You have let him back in this fight!”
Shay replied “I just couldn’t get passed his jab Ken”
Kenny said in a calm voice “Double jab then the right hand Shay, and when you get inside make it count, trust me you aint going to get a decision here, so knock the fucker out”.
Shay looked Kenny straight in the eye and said “I’ll try Ken I’ll Try”.
The crowd was roaring again after the last round, the noise was deafening in there. Shay got up and walked to the centre of the ring for the final round, he touched gloves with Docker who did seem to look pretty tiered. Shay came out straight away with the a double jab, straight right and caught Docker with all of them, Shay then hit him with 2 sickening body shots, a left and a right which really seemed to hurt Docker.
Docker tied Shay up in a clinch to catch a breath. Shay was relentless coming forward sensing the knockout was there if he could land the right shot. Docker moved back still on the jab and still catching Shay with good shots, but Shay caught him with another right hook to the body, this time doubling it up, which left Docker trying to grab Shay to buy some time. The bell went to end the round and the fight luckily for Docker.
Shay walked back to his corner mouthing the words “Sorry Ken”.
Kenny just said “I think you pissed it Shay, but it’s up to the judges now”.
Docker and Shay went to the centre of the ring for the result; Docker was holding the right side of his body obviously in pain. The Master of Ceremonies came into the ring to announce the winner, the crowd applauded as the M.C asked for their appreciation for the 2 young boxers before he read out the result.
The M.C was ready to make the announcement, “Your winner and going though on a majority decision, Ronnie Docker”.
Shay bowed his head as his opponents hand was raised, Docker looked in real pain as his arm was lifted by the Ref and pulled away in agony still feeling the effects of Shays body shots.
Kenny put his arm round Shay as he came back to the corner and said “Shay you were excellent, you got nothing to be sorry about, I’m proud of you”.
Shay walked back to the changing room, lots of people patted him on the back and said they thought he had won. Shay just smiled at them and said “Thanks”.
Shay was a gracious loser, even though it hadn’t happened to him many times in the past.
When Shay and Kenny got back to the dressing room, one of the A.B.A chairmen came in to talk to them.
Kenny didn’t let him get a word in, Kenny went straight up to him and said “There is no fucking way Shay lost that fight, it’s because we are in Manchester fighting a Manchester boxer, that’s why you gave it him, it’s a fucking travesty”.
The A.B.A chairman was stunned and when he did get to speak he said “All I came in here to say was that Ronnie has been taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs. He might not be able to fight in the finals in 2 weeks time”.
Shay said “So what does that mean?”
Kenny smiled and said “If the kid can’t fight in the finals, you get the shot. That’s right isn’t it?”
The chairman just smiled and said “Just try and stay in weight, you never know”.
Shay’s face turn from looking completely gutted to a face of pure joy. When he got back to Birmingham Shay kept himself fit. Kenny kept calling Ronnie Dockers gym to see how he was doing.
Docker’s trainer told Ken “Your boys done a real number on Ronnie, he has got 3 broken ribs and there’s no way he can fight in the final”.
Kenny said “I’m really sorry to hear that” with one big smile on his face.
Docker’s trainer replied “Yeah I bet you are! Tell Shay good luck o.k.”
Kenny said he would and put the phone down.
Kenny went out of his office into the gym; Shay was on the heavy bag working hard. Kenny just Shouted “Shay keep Saturday free, we are going to London” and walked back into his office.
Shay stopped pounding the bag and asked one of the lads what Kenny had said, the lad said “You’re going to the finals Shay”. Shay just said “yes” he had a big smile on his face, but then got straight back on the heavy bag as he knew he was going to be fighting the number 1 boxer in his age and weight Gary Britain.