Shayne Singleton may have hung up his gloves but the one-time British title challenger is still having a significant influence on another former Sandygate star.
The 28-year-old announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year, bowing out with a controversial loss to Peter McDonagh, but the former English champion has inspired a changing of the guard.
Bantamweight Sam Larkin, who represented Sandygate ABC as an amateur fighter, was smack bang in the middle of the pandemonium that ensued when Park High School classmate Singleton overcame Curtis Woodhouse at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester more than five years ago.
Larkin, born and bred in Colne but now living in Barrowford, had just called time on his own career when Singleton landed his first major domestic title, citing a dislocated shoulder as his reason to quit the ring.
However, the 27-year-old was encouraged to break his hiatus by Singleton and he was eventually pointed in the direction of coach Karl Ince.
Larkin slowly learned to love the sport once again, growing disciplined and determined in the process, and now, under the tutelage of Elite Boxing’s Alex Matvienko - the man behind Luke Blackledge’s Commonwealth title success - he’s on the brink of making his professional debut.
“I just want to get going now,” he said. “It means everything to me. It’s amazing. I’ve got a lot of people who are backing me and believing in me.
“It’s been a long process. I initially said ‘no’ when being offered this chance but I went home, spoke to my family and they encouraged me to go for it. I didn’t want to blow this opportunity away so it’s now or never.
“It’s a big deal and it’s the perfect time for me. I’ve never felt better.”
He added: “I followed Shayne all over. It’s brilliant because I’ll have a similar following to him. I’ve grown up with similar people.
“I went to school with Shayne, I grew up with him, I’ve done a lot of boxing with him. He’s really inspired me and I’m very grateful.
“I was ringside to see Shayne beat Curtis Woodhouse and I saw how much he put in to that.
“I’ve rung him up for advice because he’s been there and done it. He introduced me to all of this and pointed me in the right direction.
“Now I know what I want and there’s no stopping me. I’m hoping he’ll be ringside for my debut.”
Like Singleton, who won 23 of his 27 contests, Larkin will make his bow at Colne Municipal Hall, the Mecca of local boxing.
An opponent has yet to be confirmed but it’s fair to say, having sparred with the likes of English and Commonwealth Featherweight champion Ryan Doyle, he’s more than ready to go on August 17th.
“I can’t believe I get to make my debut at Colne Muni,” he said. “I can’t believe that I’m making my debut in my home town.
“I was born and bred there so it’s perfect for me. I’m losing sleep over it I’m that excited.”
Larkin isn’t in this for a short term fix. There isn’t a back story of redemption. His motives run much deeper than that.
While he wants to win titles and be the best that he possibly can be at 118lbs, he wants to do it in honour of his late mum, Kerrie, who died two years ago, and make his two children, Bella (5) and Tommy (2), proud.
“My Mum was my number one fan,” he said.
“I’m doing this for her. Trying to be successful for her is always in the back of my mind. She would have been ecstatic for me.
“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have ambition though. I’ve got big dreams. I want to get to the top but, first and foremost, I want to do my family proud.
“I definitely see myself at a high level. I don’t just want to do this to beat journeymen. I’m investing too much in to it to do that. I’ve put a lot on the line, I’ve changed my lifestyle. I want to win titles.”
Tickets for Sam’s debut are priced at £35 for ringside seats and £30 for the gallery. Anybody interested in purchasing tickets can contact him via his Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/samkit.larkin.
Sam would like to thank Unique Clean, JOG Building Services Ltd, Norpol Recycling, M. Hughes Sports Massage and Steptoe’s Yard for their ongoing sponsorship and support.