The inevitable happened at school and I was put on report.
This was a big win for many teachers as I was now on the path to being expelled.
When you are on the report you have to get your teacher for that lesson to sign your report sheet and comment on your behaviour.
If you get bad comments you are then on a fast track to being suspended.
The system is in place so that the school can cover itself legally in all eventualities and all of this is recorded with a mountain of paperwork.
This was when safeguarding had just begun but it was years before they started to tackle the important stuff like violence and paedophilia.
Many children were being failed by the system and in most cases, the government could have done a lot more to prevent this but as the saying goes better late than never.
There is still a long way to go but the train is heading in the right direction and all we can do is build on that year after year.
I had learned early on that school was a waste of time but there was still a glimmer of hope in my mind of getting a decent job when I left school.
Although looking back it’s upsetting to see that many children’s cards are marked from 11 years old and onward.
To be honest I needed to be put on the report as things were slowly steering out of control.
I have admitted in earlier blogs how I acted up considerably but not only that I had been close to full-on fighting with 4 teachers.
In a year that has to be a record and let’s be honest whose side would, they take?
Four of the boys in the staff-room or some piece of shit who will never amount to anything in their eyes?
Many teachers are this childish and petty and even with the small group of teachers who were on my side this would not be enough to sway the majority and usually, the majority wins.
I’m pretty sure all of these teachers had started writing paperwork on me as soon as I had stood up to them.
Also, the safeguarding system was still in its infancy so nobody would have thought of anything as complex as to ask my version of events.
It’s likely as well that these teachers had over-embellished the events in question and made themselves look like Mary Poppins.
As there were no punches thrown there would be no need to dig deeper and like in any investigation when you’re building a case on someone you don’t tell them.
I may have been overconfident but I wasn’t stupid and knew I had to play the game at least for a while to get off the report for good.
I remember the final straw I had been sent to Miss. Kitchens office again.
I can’t remember what I had done but Miss. Kitchen was screaming at me.
Like I mentioned in earlier blogs I had respect for Miss Kitchen she was a straight shooter.
She didn’t take any shit off anyone but she wouldn’t stab you in the back either and she had your best interests at heart.
I may have the year wrong here but the conversation happened so ill just run through it.
I’m getting screamed at and probably for good reason by Miss Kitchen and she starts shouting about getting a job when I leave school.
The way you’re going you will never get a job
So everyone keeps telling me, miss
Oh, think your clever do you?
I know I’m not stupid but that doesn’t seem to be a popular opinion amongst many teachers.
Well it’s up to you to prove to these teachers your not stupid
really, ok thanks for that?
What the hell is your problem?
My problem is that I’m being singled out and treated like an arsehole and then I’m supposed to suck up to these people to win their approval
Don’t you dare swear at me
I’m not swearing at you and I have never had a problem with you I have a problem with the situation and teachers who think they are going to bully me
I interrupted Miss Kitchen quickly and said if the teachers tried to get to the route of the problem then it would not escalate and then it just turns into a huge arse covering exercise with teachers helping their mates and condemning students they don’t like
Miss Kitchen was fuming with me first because I was right and even though she didn’t play that type of game she was well aware that it was going on.
Secondly if an 11-year-old can see this then so can many others and there would be a time she would have to stand up as she was the year head.
She quickly changed the subject and said to me what do you want to do when you leave school.
I knew whatever I said to her even a road sweeper she was going to shoot down in flames so I stayed silent
What do you want to do she shouted at me?
I had watched the movie Leon the professional the night before and was also in the middle of playing the first Hit-man game.
I wanted out of the office so I had the first thing that popped into my head.
I want to be a hit-man
what what what
Oh not a bad guy but to work for the government
I thought that I would be kicked out of the office but Miss. Kitchen tried to run with it
Yeah well you cant be a hit-man without GCSEs
Oh really so what qualifications do I need kill people then I asked sarcastically
Kitchen knew she was beaten and calmed herself down.
She was only beaten in the short term and that was the day I ended up on the report.
I took my sheet away and headed up to RE and like usual it was a party in that lesson.
I sat at the back and shut the fuck up and then I kicked myself as I knew I didn’t have many friends who were teachers and now I could see I was an idiot to alienate Miss Kitchen.
Luckily unlike most teachers of that era, she didn’t bear a grudge against me and we were ok after that.
At the end of class, Reverend Upton Jones commented on my good behaviour.
I’m just doing gods work sir
The reverend nodded approvingly and said to me
Would you like to pray with me?
Don’t push it I answered
God bless you he said as I walked out of the class fuck my life I thought to myself
This carried on and the beauty of the report was the school could keep you on this permanently if they wanted to.
When you were under the microscope you had even fewer rights and that was a dangerous place to be especially during the era of children who didn’t have a voice.
I figured as well that it was a matter of time before a teacher made up a story that would get me booted out of school.
I had to be beyond reproach and I had to figure this out and fast.
It didn’t help that there were three schools of new children all put into the same year for high school.
There was a lot of tension between a lot of the lads all wanting to be the toughest kid in the year.
I was bigger than everyone as well so I would end up fighting a lot through my teens.
I will talk about this more in later blogs but now I had to do something about it before I ended up a victim.
I had found out about a boxing club in Speke called Gemini Boxing and this place helped me so much.
Over the years as a kid since I started in Gemini, I had always done some sort of training.
Even though they all didn’t happen as a first-year Ill speak about them in future blogs and the impact they had on me growing up.
Liverpool is a famous city and over the years has had so many professional fighters who reside here.
I remember as a kid hearing all about John Conteh who retired in 1980 but was the WBC champion for a period.
I watched a few of his fights on video but at the same time, the 90s was probably one of the best eras for boxing with so many exciting fights and characters who fought wars in the ring.
Many other champions came from Liverpool who I’ve shown in the pictures.
I used to stay up late and watch their fights on ITV sport and would always end up shouting at the TV with a lot of passion.
Years later I found out that my mum’s friend Tricia married Richie Wentons brother and I sent him a message on Facebook telling him I loved watching him as a kid and I was friends with Tricia.
He sent me a nice message back and I was starstruck even many years later after he had retired I had seen him have some serious scraps and he was a true champion back in his day.
In another twist of fate, I would end up meeting Shea Neary many times when I became friends with a guy called Mick Metcalf.
This was Mick’s uncle and he owned a few pubs in Liverpool after he retired.
Many nights when there were stay behinds I would either be with Mick or he would call me and we would end up having a very late night.
I don’t see Mick anymore but we didn’t fall out when we see each other its all good but we both grew apart.
He still works in the Royal hospital in the supply department and he’s still living in Liverpool.
Years later I met Paul Hodkinson who was an animal in the ring and a very vicious entertaining fighter of his day.
I didn’t recognise him as it was 20 years later and he had a full beard and had put on weight.
His mate was shitfaced drunk and couldn’t stand up and he was trying his best to get us to let his friend into Empire where I worked in 2015.
He was polite and respectful but after a while admitted defeat and carried his mate off up the road
My mate Terry Phillips told me it was him and I was blown away as I had no idea.
Hoko was unlucky because he came from the era where the lighter weight categories didn’t make nearly as much as the heavyweight division.
He retired in the early 90s but burnt through his money quickly and ended up working on the railways for years.
My friend Carl knows Hoko well and tells me he’s a sound guy but loves a bet and loves a bevy that did him no favours after he retired.
Back to the story so I got off the bus and walked into the Austin Rawlings sports centre and was told where the boxing gym was.
I walked in and everyone stopped to see who I was.
It was really clicky and I was a stranger. A tall skinny guy who I learned later was called Neil Collins said
What do you want?
I want to learn how to box
Really why should we train you?
Because I love the sport and I need to learn to take care of myself
Do you think you hard then yeah?
Nah but I can handle myself
Neil seemed happy with my answers and told me to come back tomorrow.
There were two classes the beginners and the advanced class and I walked into the advanced.
The other trainer stepped in and said well it’s just circuits tonight your welcome to do this if you want but it’s not easy.
No problem I said a little too confident and they saw it and laughed.
I remember a lot of screaming and shouting and hitting bags, push-ups, sit-ups, and various other things.
I remember throwing up in a bucket and the trainers kept on and pushed me harder.
At the end of the class, I felt like I was close to death but the trainers were happy with me as I didn’t quit and gave me the times for the beginner class.
There was a lot of talent that came through Gemini boxing for example Tony Dodson.
He was the same age as me but had been boxing since he was ten and probably the best fighter in the gym.
He was always all over the Liverpool Echo for winning fights and they always wrote about him in a positive light.
Tony Dodson went on to have a very successful boxing career and was the British champion for a while.
He was beaten by Tony Quigley in one of the most brutal fights I’ve ever seen in my life.
It went 12 rounds and Quigley secured the victory in the 12th round.
I became mates with Quigley from working nightclub security years later and we became friends.
I’ve been to see Tony fight in Manchester and a couple of other places and he is one of the nicest people you can meet.
Quigley lost his title to another Liverpool boxer Paul Smith and a year later he retired from the sport.
He now has four kids and works in Ashworth secure unit.
We speak from time to time on Facebook and he’s doing ok.
I haven’t seen Dodson since we were kids but he retired from boxing a few years ago and I’m not sure what he’s doing now.
Unfortunately, not everyone who went to this gym was a success story.
Liverpool seems to be a city with a lot of could have been a type of people who never use the talent given to them properly and end up living a very simple life.
This can go the other way as well and there can be a dark side to this sport especially with the attention it brings and the wrong people surrounding you.
A good example of this was Brian Schumacher who was the captain of the 1984 British Olympic boxing team.
He spent 23 years in prison for killing his mum’s boyfriend another tragic tale and again another boxer who spent years working nightclub security. He got out of prison this year and according to my mate he’s doing well and getting on with his life.
The link below tells of what happened and how he was locked up.
Another tragic case is Carl Wall, I never really knew him well but we had a lot of mutual friends.
He was in the advanced class and according to many he could have easily turned pro.
As an amateur, he was smashing people but he had too many distractions outside the ring.
He was surrounded by rats and he got himself immersed in the world of drugs.
For years he was involved heavily in this game which took him into the big leagues
In 2014 Carl was sentenced to 21 years in prison and he had been under investigation from TITAN for almost two years.
In my opinion, he had got away with it for so long because he had got to the level he had.
There were no police units like TITAN and no senior officer would open a case on someone that big without concrete evidence.
Unfortunately, the police are more interested in arresting lots of small-time dealers and junkie shoplifters as this way it’s much easier to manipulate the statistics and say that they are making a difference.
They carry on with this dog and pony show and then the funding continues and for many years many of the top echelons of drug dealers walked with impunity.
The police however will find a way to get you and they will keep you under the microscope when needed.
Carl and his mates were always having murder in town with other people
They were always in the middle of the madness.
One night the police came to break up a fight outside H bar on victoria street which was owned by singer Natasha Hamilton before it was closed down.
One of Carls crew dropped a gun when running away which the police found.
They didn’t go and arrest the guy they just kept it and 18 months later when they had this guy on a drugs conspiracy charge they introduced the gun as evidence.
Instead of a 5-year sentence, he got 13 years.
What a lot of these gangsters don’t seem to realise is the police run like a business and if they are spending money watching you then you better believe they want a return on their investment and one way or another they will find you in the end if your making problems for them.
Another example of the police working this way was the case of David Turner who was convicted for multiple drug offences and a murder charge on top of that.
My friend who I won’t name as he is still a serving police officer pulled him over in his car and he and his partner searched the car while Turner screamed abuse at them for ten minutes.
My friend told me if they had arrested him there and then they had enough to put him away for 15 years but they weren’t happy with that and waited another year.
A year later Turner was convicted and has been ordered to serve a minimum of 37 years before being released.
The link below goes into detail about what he was doing
All of this was yet to come and I was still only 11. The purpose of this blog was to tell my story and the history which was unfolding around me.
Luckily boxing and training for me were very positive and it helped keep me on the path.
I wasn’t going to school fuming anymore as 3 nights a week I was punching fuck out of bags and pads and learning how to fight and most of all learning respect.
I didn’t care about anything else just boxing and I knew because I had the gym release I could keep playing the game in school while I got myself off report and out of the cross-hairs.
It’s amazing how much of a positive effect training can have on your mindset.
More people are aware of this now and gyms are extremely popular but back in the 90s gyms seemed to be the cities best-kept secret.