• Dexter Hastings

Saturday Book club - Fear No Foe Chapter 3

The third chapter of my book Fear No Foe, I hope you are enjoying the story. Please feel free to comment on the book at the bottom of the page, not so much on grammar and spelling but what you think of the story.

CHAPTER 3

The week before his 16th birthday Shay was pretty busy, his home phone never stopped ringing with people congratulating him and wanting him to appear at local events. Even the Lord Mayor of Birmingham wanted Shay to attend an event at the Town Hall to show off his newly acquired British vest to all the dignitary’s. Shay did go to the Town Hall as it was such an honor, he went with Kenny and his Mom and Dad, and he had his picture taken with the Lord Mayor and some local business men. He even got a peace in a national newspaper as one of England’s hopes for the future and could well be a future Olympic Gold Medalist. The Olympics weren’t for another 3 years, so that wasn’t Shays main objective, Emma his new girlfriend was a bit annoyed that she didn’t get an invite to the Town Hall with him, but she made up for it at his 16th birthday party. Emma never left his side and made everyone especially any girls that came near him know that he was with her. Emma even warned off his best friend Kelly as she saw her as the main fret to her.

Shay had a great time at his party and enjoyed all the attention he was getting, but his world was just about to come crashing down around him. He had an appointment at the hospital to see how long he would be out of boxing. He went along with his Mom and the news wasn’t good, the Doctor explained to Shay and his Mom that because he had broken his hand so many times it had started to weaken the bones in his hand. The Doctor told them Shay would need to keep the cast on for 2 months minimum and would need a lot of physio after to get back all the normal movement in it.

Shay asked the question “So how long before I can box again?”

The Doctor replied “Well with the physio it may take up to a year before you can get full movement in your hand and then you will need to give the bones chance to heal”.

Shay said “Oh o.k. I’ll be out for a year, that’s not too bad then”.

The Doctor butted in and said “No Shay, that’s how long it will probably take to get full movement in your hand. I would advise you don’t box again, but if you want to it could be up to 2 years before you would be able to compete”.

With this news Shay bowed his head and put his hands over his face mumbling the words “2 years, 2years”.

His Mom put her arm round him and tried to console him “Come on son it will be o.k.” She looked up at the Doctor and said “So there’s no way he could fight, before 2 years?”

The Doctor shook his head and replied “Shay’s hand has been really badly damaged by all the times it has been broken, he needs to give his hand time to heal and the bones to get stronger before he even thinks about competing again. I’m sorry”.

Shays Mom thanked the Doctor and led Shay out of the room and took him home. When they got home Shay went straight to his room, he was inconsolable he felt like his whole life had ended.

Kelly came round to see how he had got on at the hospital, she knocked Shays front door and his Mom answered. Kelly could see his Mom was upset; Shays Mom might not have ever liked the fact that Shay boxed, but knew how much of his life it was.

Kelly asked his Mom “Is Shay back? Is everything alright Miss Dempsey?”

Shays Mom just asked Kelly to come in and said “Go up and see Shay, he’s had a bit of bad news and he could really do with a friend right now”.

Kelly went up the stairs and knocked on Shays door, Shay called her in and she entered. Kelly could see how upset Shay was and asked him what had happened, Shay looked at her with tears in his eyes and said “2 years, Fucking 2 years out, what the fuck am I going to do?” Kelly replied “Years out of what? What’s happened?”

Kelly sat down next to Shay and put her arm round him, Shay began to tell her what the Doctor had said about his hand and the 2 year layoff he would have to take to make sure his hand recovered properly.

Kelly replied “Ahh Shay I’m really sorry to hear that I know how much boxing means to you, it’s your life”.

Shay looked down at the floor and said “I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself now, I can’t box, I can’t even get a job with my Dad because of my hand, so what am I going to do, I left school with no qualifications and now I might not even get a chance to be a professional boxer if my hand doesn’t recover”.

Kelly took this chance to try and make Shay see it’s not all over, Kelly said “Shay look you’re out of boxing for 2 years, but you can still keep yourself fit and still be a professional boxer when you turn 18, why don’t you go to college and take your exams again, get your qualifications just in case. I know you’re not stupid and if you put your mind to it you could be or do anything you wanted to”.

Shay replied with “But I hated school”

Kelly then said “Its College not school, you only go on the days when you have got classes, it would give you something to focus on”.

Shay said he would think about it and gave Kelly a hug to say thank you. As Shay was hugging Kelly, Emma walked into his room; she saw the 2 friends in an embrace and just went off her head.

She said “What the hell is going on here, I always knew you were more than just friends. Get your hands off him you slag, he is my man!”

Shay jumped up and replied “It’s not what it looks like; I was just giving Kelly a hug to say thanks for her support”.

Emma reply was “Yeah yeah whatever, I knew she was trying to get with you”.

Kelly then stood up looked at Shay and said “I’m going to go; I’ll talk to you soon”.

Shay looked at Kelly and said “Sorry”, but Emma butted in and said “Don’t say sorry to her and if I have anything to do with it you won’t be seeing him again”.

Kelly left and then Emma asked Shay what the hell was going on. Shay started to tell her about what the Doctor had said and that it could be up to 2 years before he could fight again. Emma’s reply was “What you can’t fight for 2 years? So what are you going to do?” Shay started to explain that he was thinking of going to college to retake his exams, as he was saying this Shays Mom was coming into his room to see what all the noise was about, she heard what Shay had said about going to college and before Emma could say anymore his Mom said “You going to do your exams at college, that’s a great idea Son”. Emma paused for second before agreeing with his Mom, but by the look on Emma’s face you could see she wasn’t happy about it.

Shays Mom left the room and Emma and Shay had a very Frank talk, Emma started by saying “So what was she doing in your room?”

Shay replied Kelly’s my friend and she just came to give me some support. I’ve known her since I was a kid; we are just friends, that’s all”

Emma replied with “Well I don’t like it, if I had a boy as a best friend you wouldn’t like it if you saw me hugging him in my bedroom would you?”

Shay replied “Well no I suppose not”.

Emma continued “So you can understand what I’m saying, if you want me as your girlfriend you need to keep your distance from Kelly”.

Shay looked disheartened and said “But she is my friend”.

Emma replied with “Yes she is your friend, but I’m your girlfriend and I don’t like her hanging round all the time”.

Shay just shook his head and said “What can I do I have known her for years and we have always been close”.

Emma looked at Shay in a very serious way and said “Well it’s either me or her, your choice”.

Emma left Shays house so he could think about what she had said. His mind was going all over the place, and he had so much to think about. When Shay’s Dad came home from work and heard the news off his wife, he went straight up to see his Son. Shays Dad was gutted for him, he knew Shay lived for boxing, but did agree with his Mom that going to college was a good idea. Shays Dad told him that he should go to Case’s gym and talk to Kenny about what to do with the boxing; his Dad just couldn’t find any encouraging words to say about his 2 year layoff.

Shay went down to the gym, all the lads were working away, the place was buzzing with the sound of leather on leather as the punch bags were being smashed about.

Kenny saw Shay and shouted “Hey champ, how you doing?”

Shay went over to Kenny asked him if he could have a word in the office. They went in and Shay started to tell Kenny about what the Doctor had said about his hand. Kenny listened and could see how upset Shay was. Kenny put his arm around Shay and told him in a fatherly voice “Look son I know it seems like the end of the world for you, but it aint, its 2 years. What you got to do is keep yourself fit, do all the secret training that don’t include hitting anything, make sure you keep your running up, you could even do some shadow boxing, and when you get the all clear in 2 years time you will be fit as fuck and a Senior Amateur and we can make our aim getting you ready for the Senior Championships and then maybe the Olympics”.

Shay looked at Kenny in a bit of a shocked way and said “Do you really think I can get back and even make the Olympic team?”

Kenny smiled and said “Why not, you got a God given talent, just give the hand time to heal and keep yourself fit. I have no doubts you will be back”.

Shay thanked Kenny for his words of wisdom and went home; he was in a lot better mood and had something to focus on. Emma came round to his house to see what he had decided, Shay told her about what Kenny had said about the Olympics and this seemed to make her a little less annoyed.

Shay also said to her “Look I’m going to go to college and re-sit my exams, I still want you as my girlfriend, but I cannot say I won’t talk to Kelly anymore, she lives next door to me and has always been a good friend, but I will make sure I give you all the attention I can, but I really need your support”.

Emma had kind of calmed down now and started to think about the big picture about what it would do for her and Shay if he got to the Olympic Games and maybe won a medal. Emma put her arms round Shay and gave him a very loving kiss then said “O.k. I will give you whatever support you need and I understand about Kelly, but you can’t be having her in your room and stuff like that, it’s just not on”. Shay agreed with her and told her he wouldn’t anymore.

Emma then said to Shay “Alright then, but I just hope you know how lucky you are to have me”.

Shay replied “Yeah I do Em; I’m a very lucky man”.

Shay started his training the very next day, he was going on 5 to 7 miles runs one day and doing specially worked out secrets at Case’s Gym the next day. Shay was training at least 5 days a week and was focused on being in tip top shape. After the summer holidays he enrolled in college to retake his exams, he was retaking English, Math’s and Science and was actually enjoying it.

When he wasn’t training or at college he spent most of his time with Emma, he hardly got chance to see Kelly anymore or any of his other friends.

After 2 months they took Shays cast off his hand. Shay could feel it was still tender and kept to his non boxing programme. Every month the Physiotherapist was seeing an improvement in his hand, they were sure that if he stuck with it his hand would be completely repaired. As the 1st year of physio was coming to an end he was reading his ‘Boxing Monthly’, a magazine he read like it was the Bible every month. They had a piece all about the British Amateur Finals and how Gary (now with ‘Great’ in-between his names) Britain had destroyed his opponent in the finals of the Junior Welter Weight Title fight.

The Boxing Monthly were tipping Gary to bring home a gold medal from the Olympics in 2 years time. This really pissed Shay off; he showed the piece to Emma who encouraged him with the words “Well you have beaten him before and its 2 years away so who knows what could happen”.

Shay smiled as he felt that Emma had faith in him, but then Emma said “But I got to say that Gary Britain is one fit looking lad, his gorgeous”.

Shay just gave her a look but said nothing.

The next time he was at the gym, he talked to Kenny about it. Kenny just laughed and said “Son they can say what they like, you win the British Senior Title the year of Olympics they will have to pick you”. This put Shay’s mind at ease and as the months went by Shay’s hand got stronger and stronger. Shay also managed to pass all his exams at college so thing were starting to come together for him at last. He even enrolled in a Business Management course for his second year there.

It was about 6 months after his 17th birthday that the Doctor said he could start doing some light pad work, if he thought his hand was up to it. Kenny took him on the pads the next time he was down the gym, just nice and light for a 1 minute round to see how his hand faired. It was like Shay hadn’t had any time out, his timing was perfect, and he looked sharper than ever. Kenny was well impressed and told him if he could keep that up he would be a dead cert for the Olympics. As Shay got older he also got bigger and taller.

Kenny weighed him the one night and said “Shay your no longer a Welter Weight, you are now a Middle Weight”.

Shay smiled and said “Well I feel a lot better with the extra weight”. Kenny replied “You look a lot better; all that training has paid off Son, now we just got to ease your hand back into it.”

Kenny registered Shay for his last year as a Junior Amateur, but didn’t really expect him to fight as they were really being careful about his hand. Case’s Gym had, had a pretty successful season; they had got 3 boxers who had managed to win the Birmingham and the Seven County’s title’s, but didn’t progress any further in the Championships.

Kenny had organized a show against a boxing club from Ireland as their final show of the season.

It was to be held at the Irish Centre, Digbeth, Birmingham and the main event was Case’s Gym Seven County’s Junior Middle Weight champ John Martin against the newly crowned Junior Middle Weight Champ of Ireland Danny O’Dyer. It was a real event for Case’s Gym as they never usually put their own shows on, Kenny always used to get the lads on other gyms shows. But with their new sponsors they had for the gym, Kenny had decided to see if he could put one on himself. The gyms main sponsor Brumsdale: a Birmingham based clothing company, who had kitted out all of the gyms boxers with Brumsdale shorts and vests and new gloves, they also contributed to paying for the event to take place. The owner Gary Southan was at the show and if it all went well there would be more money for the gym.

The night of the show Kenny had been given a real big problem, John Martin had been suffering with a cold for the week before the fight and it had now turned into full blown flu. Kenny was trying to explain to the Irish champ’s coaches that he couldn’t fight, the Irish coaches were going mad; they reckoned John was just scared to box their champ. Shay had been round to John’s house before he came to the show. John could barley move he was really ill. John had a note off the Doctors to prove he wasn’t faking it and Shay said he would bring it to Kenny. As Kenny was trying to calm the Irish champ’s coaches down, Shay came walking in to give Kenny Johns sick note. Kenny showed O’Dyers coaches the note; he wasn’t too impressed, but had to except the lad was ill.

Danny’s coach said in his very board Dublin accent “You have got loads of Irish people here that have just come to see Danny fight, can’t you find anyone else for him to fight?”

Kenny replied “No we haven’t got anyone else”, before the Irish coach could reply; Shay jumped in and said “I’ll fight him Ken”.

Kenny just looked at Shay and said “No son you’re not ready”. The Irish coach looked Shay up and down and said “You a Boxer then Son?” Shay smiled at him and replied “Yeah I’ve had a few fights”. Kenny then butted in and said “But he hasn’t fought in 2 years”, Danny’s coach then said “Well he looks fit enough, has he got his license?”

Kenny replied “Yeah he has”.

Then the Irish coach said “Well then he’s fit enough to fight then”. Shay looked at Kenny and in a very enthusiastic voice said “Come on Ken let me fight, you know the hand is o.k. now, please Ken”.

Kenny nodded his head and told Shay he could fight.

Shay smiled and thanked Kenny and said “I won’t let you down”. Danny’s coach had a big smile on his face and said to Shay “Don’t worry Son we’ll tell him to take it easy on you”.

Shay looked at the Irish coach with a look of contempt and replied “Don’t do me any favors mate”.

Danny’s coach looked at Shay smiled and said “Well o.k. Son, but you do know you’re going up against the Irish champ, who do you think you are? Gary Britain”.

Shay looked at Kenny and they both cracked up laughing, O’Dyers coaches just looked at them and mumbled something under his breath as he left the room.

After Shay and Kenny stopped laughing, Ken looked Shay straight in the eyes and said “You do know that this other kid is the really deal?”

Shay replied “Well he’s a Champ, so he must be Ken”.

Kenny then started to explain just how good the kid was, he told Shay that Danny had, had over 150 fights and won most of them and he’s only the same age as him. Kenny continued by telling Shay that Danny had been brought up to fight so to be real careful out there. Shay said to Kenny “I will Ken, but if I can do 3 rounds with him and hold my own; it will be good for me next season won’t it?”

Ken replied “Yes Shay it would, but just make sure you stay away from that left hand, he’s a Southpaw so remember lots of right hands o.k. now get to the changing room and get ready”.

Shay hadn’t fared well against Southpaws in the past, they had messed him about and he had lost more than he had won against them, but was just happy to be back in the ring.

Kenny went down to the main room and met the A.B.A judges that were going to be judging the show. There was Ben Meadings, Noel O’Sulavland and Pat Byson, they were all on the Birmingham A.B.A board and were very impressed with how Case’s Gym and the show were being run. Kenny sat down with them and lapped up the praise about the Gym and the show, then heard something that really shocked him.

Ben Meadings said to him “Your club is doing well and we can see now you can put a good show on, if you contribute a bit more money to the Birmingham A.B.A maybe we could give some of your lads the nod in close fights, a couple of other clubs do it. You would have more champions in no time at all”.

Kenny looked at him in disbelief of how blatant he was about it; Ken always knew things like this went on, he just couldn’t believe he was being asked to join in.

Kenny’s reply to Ben was sharp and to the point he said “Are you fucking joking? This is an amateur sport and you lot are supposed to be taking care of it. You’re just a bunch of corrupted bastards and my lads don’t need any favors from you”. Kenny got up to walk away, Ben grabbed his arm and said “You might regret that Ken”.

Kenny replied “No I don’t think I will and you best make sure you call the fights fair tonight or you will have me to deal with”.

Kenny pulled away from Ben and went to the changing rooms to sort his lads out.

There were 7 fights on the show, all junior and school boy fights; the Irish had brought a very strong line to Birmingham. A lot of people were coming just to see the young Irish Champion Danny Order box; he was from a big travelling family and load of Irish people from a round Birmingham wanted to see just how good Danny really was. Shay’s Dad Mickey and all his pals from the pub were going to the show to show support for the gym, but also to see the Irish champ O’Dyer.

Kenny called all his boxers around him in the changing room, He said “Look you ain’t going to get any favors from these judges tonight, so don’t mess about make it convincing”.

The lads were all pumped up and ready to box their hearts out. Shay was all changed and ready for his fight. He was on last so he went down to watch some of his mates fight.

When he got down there he saw Emma, she was shocked to see that he was in his boxing gear and asked him what he was doing?

He told her the story of how John had pulled out and he had stepped in, she asked him if he thought he was ready?

Shay replied “Yeah I’m ready Em, but he is really good, just be good to get back in the ring”.

Emma looked him straight in the eye and said “Well you better not embarrass me, all my friends have come to the show, so you better win”.

Shay shook his head and said “For fuck sake Em”.

Emma could see Shay was annoyed and said “I’m only joking just do your best”.

Shay replied “O.k.” gave Emma a hug then walked away still annoyed at her.

Shay saw his Dad and he went over to say “Hello”.

When his Dad saw him he asked what was going on, Shay told him the same thing he told Emma, Shay’s Dad paused for a second looked at Shay and said “Good luck son that O’Dyer is a good boxer, but you are a Dempsey and I know you can do it”.

Shay just replied “It will be good to see how well I can do against him”.

His Dad gave him a hug and said “Well whatever happens Son, I’m proud of you”.

Shay watched the first 4 fights of the show before being called back to the changing rooms to warm up. They had all been hard contests and the score was Case’s Gym 2 the Irish 2. By the end of the sixth contest it was still all square 3 wins each.

Kenny looked at Shay and said “You ready Son? Look don’t worry about winning; just protect that right hand o.k.”

Shay just smiled and said “Ken I ain’t going out there to lose, the hand is fine, just let me do what I do”.

The Irish Centre was packed out to see this fight, word had got around and Shay’s Newtown pals had turned up to support him. Shay was the home boxer so Danny O’Dyer was the first into the ring, he had a lot of support from the Irish contingent that lived in Birmingham and got a real warm welcome. Shay entered the ring to a mass of cheering and applause. He slipped through the ropes and looked really focused, but relaxed at the same time.

Danny O’Dyers coach, who was in the ring, laughed at how confident he was, said to the Referee “Who does this kid think he is? He hasn’t fought in 2 years”

The Ref turned to Danny’s coach and whispered in his ear “Yeah, his last fight was 2 years ago, but it was against Gary Britain for the British title and he knocked him out”.

This whipped the smile of the coach’s face. He turned to Danny and said “Don’t take any chances Dan, Knock this little bollocks out”.

The Ref called them to the centre of the ring and gave them their final instructions and they went back to their corners.

They met in the centre of the ring at the start of the first round and O’Dyer showed his class with a sharp right hand jab. Shay was moving nice and kept his guard up to protect himself, Shay’s timing was well off and every time he got his shots off O’Dyer could see them coming. Danny just moved out of the way and countered Shay. For the first minute and a half of the first round Shay was getting a boxing lesson. But near the end of the round, Shay did get some joy with his jab and his timing seemed to be getting better, but it had come too late to save the first round.

The bell went and Shay went back to his corner. Kenny sat him down and gave him a drink of water.

Kenny said “Your timing was all off, but you looked better at the end of the round so just keep it going”.

Shay replied “Ken it’s that Southpaw stance, it’s hard to get any shots to land proper”.

Kenny just said “Look Son you got to let the right hand go, southpaws are suckers for right hands”.

Kenny then said “Have you noticed when you come in with your jab he dips to his left?”

Shay replied “Yeah, but he just ties me up when he does”.

Kenny then said “Well throw a double jab, but faint the second and when he dips let the right go, he won’t be able to grab you then”. Shay nodded his head and got up for the second round.

Shay came out a bit sharper with his jab this time, but the very experienced O’Dyer blocked them well. They moved round the ring trading blows like 2 old pros. Shay saw his chance and threw the double jab, he fainted the second like Kenny told him to and Danny dipped his head exactly how Kenny said he would. Shay let his right hand go with a ferocious straight right, his timing was perfect and caught the Irish Champ clean on the side of his head guard and knocked him to the ground. The crowd roared and Shay walked to a neutral corner, the Ref started to count and O’Dyer tried to stand up straight away. This was a bad decision as his legs were still wobbly and the Ref stopped the fight.

Shay put his hands up in victory and walked over to Kenny and said “Well the right hand is working o.k. Ken”.

Ken just laughed and said “Well done Shay, well done”.

As the announcements were being made Kenny looked down at Ben Meadings and his cronies and gave them a look that basically said “Fuck you”.

Ben and the rest of the A.B.A officials applauded, but you could see they weren’t happy about it. Gary Southan the owner of Brumsdale came up to the dressing room to congratulate the lads on a great night of boxing against a very strong Irish squad. He couldn’t believe how well Shay had boxed and was ready to put more money into the gym, Ken told Gary that he reckoned that Shay would be fighting in the Olympics next year if everything went to plan. Mr Southan was well pleased to hear that and was even more pleased when he read the write ups the following day in the Birmingham Post and the Harp Newspaper. They both reported that it was a great night of boxing and both had pictures of Shay kitted out in Brumsdale vest and shorts knocking O’Dyer down. Jason Lowe the Harp’s sports writer went even fervor, tipping Shay for the England team at the Olympics.

It was also reported about Shay’s win in his favorite magazine The Boxing Monthly, it was a small peace as the same week of Case’s gyms show, Gary Britain had won the British Amateur Junior Middleweight title and they were tipping him for the Olympics place for the England team when he became a senor next season.

Shay wasn’t too bothered about the Gary Britain story he was just chuffed to be mentioned in his favorite magazine, needless to say Emma was just as happy and lapped it up every chance she could to tell people what the papers had said and that her man was going to the Olympics. The more time Shay spent with Emma the less he saw of his mates and especially Kelly.

Kelly was going away to university at the end of the summer, she came round to let Shay know, he was gutted that one of his best friends wasn’t going to be around. Kelly told him she would keep in touch and was looking forward to seeing him in the Olympics next year; Kelly had every faith in him doing it.

Shay had passed his Business Management course, his Mom and Dad were so proud of him. Shay didn’t really have a plan about what he was going to do with it, but it was a great achievement for him as he hated school when he was younger.

For Shay’s 18th birthday he had sorted out a week away aboard for him and Emma, they had a great time away, but when he got back, Shay knew he had to start training hard for the season ahead.

Shay’s first fight of his senior season was going to be a box off between him and John Martin the other Middleweight at Case’s Gym. Neither of them wanted to fight each other, but if they wanted to progress in the Championships they had to. John was no match for Shay and Shay beat him over the 3 rounds easy, but never even tried to knock his boxing buddy out. Shay steamrollered though everyone they put up against him, winning the Birmingham and then the Midlands County’s titles easily with 2 great 1st round knockouts. Shay never left it to the judges this season knocking out every opponent they put up against him, nearly all the boxers that he fought were 2 to 3 years older than him as he was now classed as an adult. In the semi finals of the British Championships Shay dispatched the very highly rated Andy Andrews, when Andy couldn’t come out for the final round of the fight.

Gary Britain had breezed though as well beating some hard opponents on the way, but he also got a lot of buys through the early rounds of the championships. The stage was set for another big night of amateur boxing at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, London. There were 2 weeks to go before the finals when the A.B.A contacted Kenny to tell him that the fight against Gary Britain for the British title would also be a box off for the Olympic place that summer. Kenny called Shay’s home to let him know the news; Shay was buzzing all he had heard all season was about Gary Britain, England’s big hope for the gold medal at the Olympics.

Gary Britain had been the England’s team number 1 for the last 2 years and had fought in many competitions in the England colors. Shay on the other hand had only fought twice for England and that was over 2 years ago, so Shay wasn’t going to be the official choice for the Olympic spot.

Kenny had also been told that Britain’s coach and England team coach had complained about the box off, but the A.B.A’s for once had stood by the decision, as that is the way the Olympic committee wanted it done.

Shay said to Kenny “Thanks Ken, I’m not going to let you down I promise”.

Kenny just replied “You couldn’t let me down son whatever happens we are all proud of you".


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