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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 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.

Dexter Hastings


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

Dexter Hastings



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”.