12 Rounds with Tom Stalker

Phil Jay 22/06/2011

Thomas Stalker was born in Liverpool in 1984, where a life in boxing seemed a million miles away. As young lad, he would get himself into scrapes, which eventually escalated, as he got older.

In his teenage years, Tom got in with the wrong crowd and was involved in petty crime, a life that is all too common in the Huyton area of Liverpool where Tom grew up.

At 18, with a pregnant girlfriend and with no real direction in his life, Tom decided he needed to find a better outlet for his energy and opted to go down to a local gym which he and his two brothers frequented, St Aloysius ABC.

Tom was instantly hooked on the sport and would always be one of the last people to leave the gym; he had his first amateur bout a year after he first walked into the gym as it became clear he had real natural talent.

He spent the next couple of years training religiously, gaining experience and harnessing all he skills before at the age of 22, Tom reached the 2006 ABA final only to lose out to future world champion and now unbeaten professional, Frankie Gavin.

It would be two years before Tom picked up his first title at a major tournament, when he travelled to Poland for the 2008 European Championships to compete in the lightweight category.

Tom brought home the Gold Medal, beating Hungarian Miklos Varga in the final. He was then hoping to clinch a place in the 2008 Olympic team on the back his success but with Frankie Gavin around, Tom knew his chances were slim.

Gavin was picked and in a bizarre turn of events, failed to make the weight for the tournament, which would only add to Tom’s disappointment,

“The kid I beat in the final in Poland is going to the Olympics, I’ve boxed another three kids who are going to the Olympics and I won,” said Tom.

Tom would now have to focus on defending his European Title in 2009, the championships were held in Denmark, with Tom once again making the final.

After a stalemate first round, Tom went 2-0 up in the second only to lose 10-4 to the German Lightweight Eugen Burhard and had to settle for a silver medal.

His first boxing club at St. Aloysius also closed down in this year, so Tom moved to the famous Salisbury Club in Liverpool 3, where he has boxed ever since.

A year later in June, Tom flew to Moscow, Russia for the 2010 tournament after winning the British Amateur Title in his home-town, with the intention a reclaiming the title he won two years previously.

Tom easily progressed to semi-finals, where in a twist of fate, he would come up against the man who had beaten him a year earlier to claim the gold medal, Eugen Burhard.

This time though, Tom made no mistake and gained revenge with 5-2 victory to progress to final where he met Russian amateur star Albert Selimov, but was disappointed again in a final and lost 8-4 to the home fighter.

He wasn’t too downhearted as Tom knew his qualification for the 2010 Commonwealth games was virtually assured and his confidence in his own ability against the best amateur boxers was sky-rocketing.

“He’s got a lot of experience and is a great boxer, but I am happy with my performance. I’ve proven a lot of people wrong and a lot of others right,” Tom told the Liverpool Echo after the final.

“I will only take positives from this tournament and I’ve proved I can perform on the biggest stage.

“My dream was to box in the Olympic Games in London. But that’s changed now. Now my dream is to win gold in 2012,” he added.

Tom took that confidence gained into the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India with one intention. To bring home the Gold medal for England and nothing else would be good enough for the 26 year-old.

Drawn against Clevon Rock in the first round, Tom steamrolled the Guyana boxer 8-1 and followed that up with another easy victory in the second round against Kamal Sameera 4-0.

He faced medal-hope Luke Jackson in the quarter-final and sent the Australian captain home in tears with an impressive 7-2 victory, then progressed to the final by dispatching home crowd favourite Jai Bhagwan 10-5 in the semi-final.

With at least a silver medal guaranteed, Tom faced a fellow Brit in the final as he took on Scotland’s Josh Taylor. The Indian crowd witnessed another awesome performance as Tom came away with a Commonwealth Gold medal in the 60kg category after a 10-3 triumph.

The boxing writers have since named Tom 2010 British Amateur Boxer of the Year (pictured top) at an awards dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London on October 31st 2010, an award that was thoroughly deserved.

At the current European Boxing Championships in Ankara, Turkey, Tom is Guaranteed at least a Silver Medal after reaching the final.

Tom took time out of busy schedule to talk to me for our “12 Rounds” with series for which we thank him for.

(ROUND 1) How did you first get into boxing Tom?

“I got into boxing in 2003, I was going through a bad time in my life, I was out robbing cars, drinking, taking drugs and partying too much. I needed to get away from the bad circle of friends and going to the gym helped me do that. The death of my nan and knowing i was going be a dad, gave me the motivation to turn my life around and do something positive.”

(ROUND 2) What is your amateur record so far?

“Won 67 and lost 9.”

(ROUND 3) Who has influenced you in your career so far?

“My old club coach Kenny Willis was a big influence, he worked a lot with me and was a great story teller. My old team mates at St.Aloysius were great, we were like a big family in there, we would go at four and stay till nine at night. They were the best times of my life in that gym, its just a shame its gone now and Kenny doesn’t train any more.”

(ROUND 4) Toughest opponent you have faced?

“It would have to be Frankie Gavin, he beat me in the 2006 ABA final and has a great boxing brain along with great judgement of not getting hit, will become world champ in the future, I have no doubts.”

(ROUND 5) What are your plans for the future?

“My plans are to keep training hard in the gym and hopefully make the team for the 2012 Olympics in London. Its going to be a long, hard two years ahead, but I am looking forward to the challenge. It would be the best feeling in the world to become an Olympic champion, standing on the podium with national anthem playing would be hard to beat that in your own country.”

“Hopefull then I will turn professional and have 7 years as a pro as
I feel like I will adapt well an become a very good professional boxer.”

(ROUND 6) How has life changed for you since you won the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal in Delhi?

“Yeah, its been mad since I have been home, I didn’t realise how many people watched my fights an actually like me. Its nice to know that I’ve got a good fanbase out there and people are behind me.”

(ROUND 7) Your favourite British fighter at the moment Tom?

“Has to be John Murray. I think his all-action style is one of the best around.”

(ROUND 8) What was it like winning British Amateur boxer of the year last year Tom?

“I was overwhelmed to get the award and to be in a room with so many boxing legends, past an present. My ar*e went when I had to go on stage an get my award and say a few words, ha ha!”

(ROUND 9) What motivates you?

“My seven year-old daughter, Ellie Louise is my motivation, wanting to be the best. There is no point in training and sacrificing everything in your life to be second best.”

(ROUND 10) What would you change in Boxing?

“I would probably change the amateur boxing scoring system, it’s a bit of joke to be honest. I also wish there was more money in boxing as we train harder than any other sport and deserve a lot more from the game than a smashed up face.”

(ROUND 11) Mayweather or Pacquiao?

“Mayweather all day long, just too clever for Pacman.” (6-0 to Floyd in the “12 rounds” series.)

(ROUND 12) And finally… tell us something we don’t know about Tom Stalker.

“I am the worst dancer in the world, but when I am drunk, I think I am good, ha ha!”

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