Steve Bendall has been a fighter, trainer, manager – and now, he’s a promoter.
Bendall’s Boxing Promotions held their first show in Bournemouth in December – and Bendall says he plans to build on his encouraging start.
“I have four shows booked for this year,” said Bendall, “and I’m hoping one day to be able to put on 10 every year.
“It will take time to build.
“There’s a definite gap in Dorset and Hampshire. From the days of Freddie Mills until a few years ago, there was nothing going on in Bournemouth and I’m looking to put on more shows around the area.
“I’m not treading on anyone’s toes and we’ve been getting sell-out crowds.”
Now 45, Bendall learned the promotional ropes with Black Country man-about-boxing Errol Johnson before branching out on his own.
He says that in Bournemouth, he faces competition from white-collar boxing.
“There are so many shows here,” said Bendall, who fought for British, Commonwealth and European middleweight honours in his pro career.
“It really does kill me. As far as I am concerned, you are either amateur or pro, but I think people in Bournemouth can see now that the calibre of fighters we have are so much better.
“I’m looking to build my stable and attract better quality fighters.
“As a boxer, I always wanted to be the best I could be and it’s the same now I’m a promoter. I want to bring through champions. There aren’t that many good-class fighters around here and it will take time.”
Bendall has high hopes for Lee Cutler, a 2-0 middleweight who won Novice honours in the amateurs.
“I’ve got a chance of one day getting him with a big promoter,” said Bendall. “But he knows he has to prove himself in the pros before we can start going to people like Frank Warren and asking for a contract.”
Bendall has a wealth of experience to pass on.
“I was in the gym at six and had my first fight at 11,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with my granddad (Triumph ABC chief Tom McGarry) when I was growing up, going to amateur shows all over the country to watch people like (the late) Errol Christie.
“I boxed for England 20 times myself. I just missed out on the 1996 Olympics. I got measured up for the suit – but they gave the wildcard to the Russian instead.
“I think I underachieved as a pro.
“There was a time when I was 22-0 and mandatory for the British title. I knew Howard Eastman hated southpaws and I was sure I would beat him. He was on the brink of a world-title shot at the time.
“We were messed around and then Lion Promotions lost their TV deal, folded and I had nothing.
“I ended up not fighting for a year and when I got my shot at Scott Dann for the British title, I put myself under so much pressure and I just didn’t turn up.
“Beating Paul Smith was a great result, but I was 36 and people don’t want to put money into a 36 year old.”
Bendall lost big fights to Wayne Elcock and Darren McDermott – the latter defeat was a close one – and ended up getting a late-notice shot at the European championship.
“I was on standby (to fight Sebastian Sylvester in April, 2006),” he said, “after I had won the English title for the second time and ended up getting a shot.
“I won the first two rounds and then he tagged me with a good shot. I wasn’t hurt, but the referee wanted a reason to step in.”
The Board took away his license, but Bendall carried on fighting and won the WBU title in Germany.
“After that, I wanted to get a big pay day,” he said. “There was going to be a big show in Bournemouth. But the promoter was a conman. After that, I quit. I was 40 and though I still felt I had something to give, I knew nothing else would happen and so I quit.”