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Home » Former heavyweight champ battered prisoner, nearly started jail riot

Former heavyweight champ battered prisoner, nearly started jail riot

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  • 3 min read

A former heavyweight champion almost started a prison riot when attending an exhibition under orders from a coach not to fight back.

Herbie Hide, who reigned as WBO ruler twice between 1994 and 1999, attended Doncaster Prison with a group of Brendan Ingle fighters.

Ex-cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson revealed the story to William Hill in a new podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan,

Nelson explained that Irish trainer Ingle would make him and other well-established boxers, including Prince Naseem Hamed, spar against prisoners.

In some cases, and that of Nelson’s, he had to spar a murderer.

Sparring with prisoners

Outlining the shocking revelation, Nelson told Jordan: “Brendan [Ingle] needed his fighters to believe in themselves.

“He’d take us to working men’s clubs, full of ex-miners and other big fellas, and we’d spar them.

“Every Sunday, we’d do this, and he’d say if we got hit, we weren’t allowed to hit them back. He said that the worst people to fight are people that don’t know how to fight.

“That’s because you don’t know if they would throw a left or a right. He told us if you can figure those people out, you can’t lose!”

Not content with working men’s clubs, Ingle upped the ante to jailbirds.

“He brought us to Doncaster Prison. Everyone would do it – Clifton Mitchell, Herbie Hide, Prince Naseem Hamed, Ryan Rhodes, Fidel Castro Smith – we’ve all done it over the years.

“Eight prisoners were picked each. He’d ask us to tell everyone about themselves and our stories. He’d then ask the prisoners to introduce themselves.

“They were all gloved up and vaselined up – and he’d make them tell everyone their story. I had to spar with a murderer.

“He was this big guy from Manchester – I was thinking, ‘why have I got him?”

“At the time, it was a good laugh for us lot. We could fight, and most boxers who can fight don’t need to show off or beat people up.

“Fighting and boxing are two different things, so if you get in there and have a pair of gloves on, we could beat anybody.”

Herbie Hide – Heavyweight champ

“Herbie Hide once came to one of the exhibitions with us. He had already been world heavyweight champion,” added Nelson. “We were in a prison that absolutely stinks.

“You had prisoners there who were jeering and shouting. Herbie got in there and still wanted the respect of a champion.

“He gets in the ring with a prisoner. Brendan tells Herbie, ‘You’re not allowed to hit him.’ So Herbie’s getting out of the way, but the guy caught him with a shot.

“Herbie turned around and started battering him.

“The prisoners then started getting up and shouting and going mad. The prison officers had to come in to try to calm it down. Brendan went mad at Herbie.”

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