Leicester’s Lyon Woodstock is determined to bring boxing to the forefront in his hometown – starting with his showdown against Paul Holt for the Midland Area Title at the Leicester Arena on April 22nd.
“When (Leicester) City won the Prem, it was proper mad, a little Rocky story of its own,” says Woodstock, currently under the tutelage of Ajmal “Hudge” Butt.
“This is also quite a big rugby city. Tigers are still one of the best teams and The Riders, our basketball team, are also doing exceptionally well.
“There’s always been a big fighting culture in this city. Scrapping was certainly the norm around Beaumont Leys, the district where I grew up. Back in the day, if you couldn’t fight there, you were a prime target [for bullies].
“But the last time we had big time boxing in the city was when Chris Pyatt won and defended his [WBO] world middleweight title here about 24 years ago. It’s quicker to list the titles Chris didn’t win than those he did! Before that, you had Tony Sibson, a proper people’s champion who’s come to a few of my fights. They’re an inspiration to me today but, growing up; I had no local heroes to look up to.
“‘Hudge’ and me always had this pact that we’d bring big time boxing back to the city. About 18 months back we met with the guy who runs the Arena where The Riders play and told them that we intended to use this as our ‘home ground’ for when I’m involved in title fights. We encouraged him to sort out links with Frank Warren. Now it’s here.
“The venue is less than a 15 minute run from my house, and I can’t wait. My job isn’t to sell tickets, it’s to beat people up but I’ve already shifted over 300, and lots don’t buy until the last week so I should have at least 400 plus you’ve the support of all the other Leicester fighters to count on. It’s going to be proper lively!”
However, Woodstock insists he will stay focused on what is his biggest test to date, against Holt.
“People deal with emotions and situations differently,” says Woodstock.
“But because of my life experiences on Leicester’s roughest streets, I rarely get nervous. Fighting in the street, there were no scales, no rules, no gloves, no referee, no doctor. In my head, the boxing ring is safe!
“Besides, I’ve always been a showman, a performer. From the age of about 11, I used to perform in King Arthur and Moby Dick at the Haymarket Theatre, so I’m used to a crowd. I’ll really thrive off being centre stage.
“I’ve been given a great space to show what I can do. This will really put me on the map with the boxing public.”
While Lyon has been tipped to win many titles, his inspiration lays close to home.
“Primarily, I deliver to the Beaumont Leys Massive!” says Woodstock.
“The only reason I’m succeeding myself is due to the help of others; my coach, my manager, my promoter, my sponsors. Otherwise I’d just be another kid from this estate, getting into trouble.
“So it’s only fit that I try to give back. I’m not self-centred. If I can help change a few lives, that would be amazing. That’s my inspiration. That’s all I want.”