Birmingham born Josh Hodgins sat down with me and reflected on a Boxing career that has seen him go from the white-collar circuit to the professional ranks. Hodgins (32) was known as ‘The Bandit’ throughout his career and had his first white collar fight at the age of 21 and during the next 7 years of his white collar career he was the ever present ‘journeyman’ who would give the home boxer a good fight but hardly ever getting his had raised. He had over 40 plus fights in this time and lost most of them. Hodgins even fought me in a charity contest in a catch-weight fight for a Bbcolumn challenge belt. Obviously, he lost this one but was involved in a great fight with a great atmosphere and raised money for a good cause. In his last year as an unlicensed fighter he started to take it seriously and with the help of the lads at Fightden gym and myself Dexter Hastings and Craig Taylor in his corner he amassed 28 wins in 30 contests and won three promotional unlicensed titles on the way.
When he turned over to the professional ranks at the age of 29 as a journeyman, he was trained by Shaun Cogan at Cogans corner which was formally called Fightden and was managed by Jon Pegg. Hodgins had a total of 15 pro fights and lost all of them with 3 of the contests ending in stoppage. Josh who was having some family issue at the time then contacted the board and handed his licence in, he later attempted to get it back but the board refused to licence him.
So, my first question to ‘The Bandit was how did you feel when the board refused to give you your licence back? He told me “Where do I start! I had so much going on in my life. During my last fight against Constantine Ursu I was not in the best place. My misses was about to have a baby and we had our house up for sale. No excuses but I was just not ready at that time and basically let the guy beat me, I just gave up! From someone who was fighting every week I just needed a break. Then a few months later things got slightly easier for me so I made the decision to fight again in the summer but all I remember is being up at midnight with my screaming baby, starving myself to make the weight and having work in the morning. I just thought this wasn’t worth it anymore so I just made the decision to stop messing people about and retire. People need to realise I rendered my own license! Not many boxers do that! I contacted the bbbofc myself to confirm my retirement which I now regret”.
Hodgins continued “I was tired of letting my manager down, I’d already pulled out of two fights at this point. But come the new year I realised I still had a few months on my license so I tried to get permission off the board to fight again which unfortunately they said no. I was pissed off because no disrespect to them it should be my decision to fight or not. They say they are looking out for my health and safety. They are arm chair fans in my opinion who have power, I just regret the way I did things. I chose to go down the journeyman route and not mentioning names but some fights I could have won but I just played the game thinking I would be doing this for years!".
I then lighten the mood by asking ‘The Bandit’ who is your favourite boxer and why? Josh told me “I’d have to say Sam Eggington, I’ve never met him but I think his is quality, strong, aggressive and a front foot fighter”. I then asked him what has been the best fight he has saw? Hodgins said “I’d have to say Gatti against Ward what a war”.
I then asked him (like I didn’t no, what has been you favourite fight you have been involved in? He said “I would have to say when I fought you Dexter, because we put on a great fight with an amazing atmosphere and you having your shorts pulled down by a women outside the ring”.
Hodgins then told me after asking him who inspired him to take up boxing was “he said “My great grandfather who was a pro in Ireland and fought in the Irish guards, he was my inspiration”.
My final quotation to this inspirational fighter was who was your hardest fight? He said “My hardest fight, Wow that’s a hard one. It is either Bryan Collins, Jake Goodwin or Amar Kayani, all these fighters will win titles, but on the unlicensed scene it has to be Dexter Hastings by far one of the best unlicensed fighters I have fought”.
It was great to sit down with Josh and chat to him about his boxing career, a lot of people will see his pro record and say what career he lost the lot which I will reply that was his job. As a pro he was a journeyman and did what he needed to do to give the up and coming prospects a test but not to much of a test. Josh had a few issues at home an made the chose to hand his licence in, I did say to him at the time that he may regret this and unfortunately, I was right. He applied for his licence back but the board decided that at the age of 32 they would not reinstate him. From what i have been told they gave reasons like he was ‘to game for a journeyman’ and that they did not what him to get injured as he had just become a father for the second time, but by making this decision they had stopped him making money from a sport he loved. Hodgins had passed all the medicals he needed to do and was going to be under a new coach and gad list 15 fights but there are journeymen out there with a lot worse records. For one MJ Hall who has just reached 100 fight has won 3 and drew 2 and has renewed his licence at least 5 times with the boards blessing. Its a shame that the bbboc have came to this decision to stop Josh from making money and doing a sport he loves but it is what it is and it is a loss for boxing as he was a journeyman who always came to fight and asked questions. I have know josh for aground six years and class him as a very good friend and was gutted for him when he could not get a license. We have shared a ring for sparring many times over the years and still do at Paddy’s gym where he trains his son in the noble art, he even had a proper contest over 5 rounds against me which I came out the victory in a entertaining fight. I also did his corner for the last year as and unlicensed fighter where he won 28 out of 30 contests, I won’t take all the credit for this as all Josh needed to win was confidence put in him and to be given a gee up and he did the rest. It sad that Josh’s career ended the way it did but he can look back and say he did it and was a professional boxer which most people even myself can’t say.