Tag Archives: Darlington

Darlington to become the next boxing hotbed?


Newcastle, Sunderland, and now Darlington, are proving, over time, to be hotbeds within professional boxing.
Darlington has enjoyed a flourishing amateur scene in recent years, more so at the gyms ran by Andy Marksby, and Paul Hamilton (previously at DBMA at the Echo Arena), with Troy Williamson the most recognised to have turned over in recent times.
Now, Tyneside promoter-manager, Steve Wraith continues to make an impact in the County Durham town, along with Peter Shepperson, who took over from Hamilton at DBMA.
Having added management abilities to his repertoire Wraith cut his teeth with then-returning Darlington favourite, Neil Hepper who, after a spell in the wilderness, is now on the cusp of titles; he also added Carl Wilson to the mix and took the sport back to the Dolphin Centre last November.
Hepper has recently been joined in the Darlington fold by Mark Downing (who’ll debut in December), Chrissy Wood, Richard O’Neill, another debutant, Ellis Corrie, the latter trio, along with Chris Burton, under Shepperson’s tutelage (he also trains world title challenger Stuart Hall).
“I’ve been here for three years now and took out my pro licence at the start of this year because Chrissy asked me to,” began Shepperson.
“Because of that I’ve been helping Stuey (Hall) who I’ve known for years and got involved with Steve (Wraith).
“The lads are in the gym all the time which is good as they not only want to stay in shape but they want to fight regularly as well, which is what we are doing.”
Chrissy, who returned to the ring at St James’ Park after a four year hiatus, already has one and possibly another, fight lined up between now and the end of the year.
Defeating Russ Midgley over four last time out he steps up to eight in Sheffield on October 13 (Sam Sheedy’s Commonwealth undercard) against undefeated home fighter, Ramzy Nassa he added: “I never wanted to walk away though and always wanted to get back in there and box again.
“Knowing of (Neil) Hepper and (Carl) Wilson, and what people like Steve (Wraith) are doing in the area helped me make up my mind to return.
“I want to win titles though and to be in for the Area title within twelve months. Actions speak louder than words though and I believe I’m good enough.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with Stuey Hall (who’s training for the Matchroom show on Tyneside later this month) and that’s good for me as he’s really good at what he does and still has a lot to give.”
O’Neill meanwhile spent the early years of his career at Hartlepool’s Gus Robinson’s Gym before recently taking the option to break contract and move from Hartlepool to Darlington in the search for more opportunities.
“I want more fights, to be out regular and competing in the ring,” stated O’Neill.
“I was last out in March against a lad that was 6’ 5” and it was a fight I shouldn’t have taken really, had all sorts of issues in the build-up.
“Now, not only will I go on the road, I want to start challenging for the Area title in the near future and have what, five or six fights next year.”
The unknown quantity, and most recent addition to Wraith’s stable is Ellis Corrie, a former Muay Thai champion who has won titles at home, and abroad, during a stellar career.
Changing sports has been an interesting transition and, as he looks to fast-track himself into the title mix, it’ll be interesting to see what he does next, his debut scheduled for Darlington later this year.
He added: “I’ve just been playing the waiting game and training just as a boxer for a few months now.
“I’m ready to go now and want at least one fight before the end of the year, maybe more.
“I’m willing to go on the road as I’ve travelled around the globe anyway and had similar calibre fighters whilst doing five, three minute rounds as it is.”
All five of Steve’s fighters will be appearing at the Dolphin Centre’s Xmas Cracker on the afternoon of Saturday December 2 with standard tickets £37.50 and VIP (which includes a one course xmas dinner) at £55, tickets available from all fighters or from www.proboxingnewcastlegateshead.com 
Published in the Sunday Sun

Cooper Challenges For Area Light Heavyweight


There’s s tough challenge ahead for Darlington light heavyweight, Steve Cooper, this weekend, when he travels to the Bowlers Arena, Manchester for a Northern Area title battle with Barrow’s Liam Conroy.

It comes off the back of a tough 2016, the Darlington fighter having just two outings, in August and November, the latter in his home-town, from a possible ten. A quiet start to this year as well has, quite possibly, had people ‘forget’ Cooper but the prospect of an Area title fight puts him right back in the public eye.

Conroy is a tough ask, and Cooper is aware he goes in as the underdog but the fight makes for an interesting contest irrespective of individual records.

“This is actually the second time of asking with this fight,” began Cooper.

“We were supposed to meet earlier this year but there was issues with my paperwork so I just kept training in the hope something else would come up.

“I had eight out of ten possible fights cancelled last year but something like this is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often so you have to take it with both hands.

“You have to jump in at the deep end if you want to get anywhere in life and I know this is a tough challenge so will be going in as the underdog.”

Cooper faces an experienced Conroy who, having had a brief spell at Gateshead College under Steve Cranston as a youth, won the WBC Youth Silver strap in June last year with a fourth round stoppage of Ferenc Albert.

Although the Darlington fighter’s most has been six rounds he is prepared to go the full ten in order to bring home the gold and will travel to Manchester Friday afternoon for the weigh-in before heading back the following day ready for his shot.

“I’ve been getting a lot of good sparring over Peterlee with Jonson McClumpha so my fitness levels are good.

“I’ve also been smashing bags and running well so feel I can be a lot better with timing and precision as we (with trainer Mike Hall) are expecting it to go the distance.

“I’m prepared for that eventuality and we’ve covered all aspects as Conroy is a good fighter but we’ve both suffered losses and he’s beatable.

“I’m not going to build up any hopes of a  stoppage win but he has been put on the canvas a good five or six times and I’ve got plenty in the tank to be able to bring back the gold.”


Wraith adds his fifth fighter to growing stable


Tyneside promoter-manager Steve Wraith added his fifth signing recently in the shape of returning Darlington fighter, Carl Wilson.

The fighter, who becomes Wraith’s third from Darlington, will trade at cruiserweight and returns after a brief spell on the sidelines due to work and family commitments.

Wilson debuted in 2010 and has had several outings in the region registering three wins and draw from his eight outings up to May 2014, drawing with Lithuanian heavyweight, Igoris Borucha at Darlington’s Dolphin Centre.

Prior to that Wilson challenged for a Masters title whilst with Paul Hamilton at the DBMA in Darlington. Although results haven’t always gone the way he would like, Wilson a father of three, is expected to make his comeback in September on the ‘Showdown at St James.’ 


He said: “It’s over two years now since I last fought but, for the majority of that period, I’ve been in Afghanistan.

“I enjoyed being in the sport over the four years I was, and I have missed it; however, I don’t want to leave it any longer and want to get back training and get back out there fighting again.

“I’ve seen what people like (Neil) Hepper have done and I feel that’s the way to go hence my looking at a fresh start.

“My first four fighters were decent but I gave away too much in weight, or fights were with too short notice. This time though I know things will be different and I’m looking forward to it.”

Although promoter Steve Wraith’s next outing is on South West London, at the Tolworth Recreation Centre, on July 16 he will be bringing professional boxing back to its spiritual home in September.

‘Showdown at St James. Features two Northern Area title fights as Anthony Hardy opposes Lee Mould, and fight fans finally get the chance to see Tom Whitfield against Daniel Cope – The Rematch (that’s if Dan hasn’t decided to continue his venture into video journalism as his recent interview of brother Peter alludes to).

Tickets for both the London, and Newcastle shows will be available from www.proboxingnewcastlegateshead.com with the Newcastle show to be announced officially once the Football League fixtures are announced, and television offerings are put forward.  

Carl Wilson’s fight record can be found HERE


Hepper the Comeback Kid

HEPPER2Having not fought since November 2014, in a reverse with Kevin Hopper at the Doncaster Dome, Darlington’s Neil Hepper finally makes his eagerly awaited comeback on the Steve Wraith promotion ‘Friday 13 Fight Night’ in Hepper’s home town on Friday May 13.

The Dolphin Centre will play host to a plethora of regional talent as Hepper is joined by a British Challenge title clash for Hartlepool’s Peter Cope among others. For Hepper it is an opportunity to pull back nearly eighteen months of inactivity and show that, although he has not fought, he still knows a thing or two.

All roads now lead to May 13 for the 28-year-old who has not stopped training, he works at BoxFit Health Club, but now, with six solid weeks left, it’s all systems go. He said: “Everything is good now and I’m back in full training and raring to go for the 13th.

“The weeks have flown over since we began talking about my comeback and now we’re into the final six weeks it’s mind-blowing. I’m glad to be back though but I’m not putting any pressure on myself, especially knowing what things were like the first time around. I’m not a beginner, I’ve had ten professional bouts and a lot of amateur so this is about coming back and winning in style.”



Since the announcement of his return, and his signing of management terms with Tyneside-based promoter-manager Steve Wraith, Hepper, thanks to the intervention of Tracey Saunders, has been immersed in a training camp alongside Jeff Snr and Jnr, Bradley, Mark McGuinness et al at the South Durham stronghold.

It is a move that, with belief and raw energy, can pay massive dividends, for Team Saunders, Hepper, and the increasing fan base.

“I’m bouncing off the lads in there,” added Neil.

“When you’re in with someone like Jeff, and the amateur lads, the lot of whom are constantly out fighting, then the atmosphere is more than good. It adds extra interest to what I’m doing and it seems like there’s a lot more this time around so I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and seeing people again.”

Hepper is sponsored by BoxFit Health Club, DL Sports Therapy, Boss Printing & Embroidery and 3D Strength Fightwear; the show is sponsored by Elixir @ Bijou Darlington, the official after party venue and Grosvenor Casino. Tickets are now on sale via fighters and the PBNG Ticket Site.


Cooperman readies a home return


Darlington’s Steve Cooper makes his ring return on home soil next month after an unexpected eleven-month hiatus from the sport.

Originally born in Ashington, into a military family, his father was in the Royal Air Force, the Cooper’s moved away when Steven was four, ending up in Darlington where a strong network of family and friends are behind the now light heavyweight boxer.

June last year would see Cooper step up to six rounds when in Essex against Paul Hilz, getting back on track after a derby loss to then local rival, Sam Best. After Hilz though personal reasons put him on the back-burner and now he’s aiming to make up for lost time.

“I’ve had my foot on the gas for the past six-eight weeks and very much looking forward to getting back in the ring,” said Cooper.

“I had a few fights in the pipeline last year but they never materialised then I had to take some personal time. I’ve still been training non-stop (with Mike Hall) and have changed my style somewhat after the last fight, feeling more comfortable in the ring.”

With sparring of choice coming at the evergreen David Binns’ gym in Peterlee, Cooper is looking to pick up where he left off against Hilz, just not quite as fast.

“I knew I had to pull off either a good performance, or stop him,” added Cooper of his Essex trip.

“However I went flat out for the first five rounds and wore myself down let alone Hilz. We knew that one punch would have finished it I just kept backing out. Now, with the help of sparring with (Jonson) McClumpha and the lads I’ve got greater confidence for coming back and I’ll take whatever is in front of, especially as the fight is in Darlington as well.”


In promoter Steve Wraith, the likes of Cooper are grateful of his ‘setting up camp’ in Darlington, ensuring more boxing across the region and giving him, Hepper, Creighton and more the chance to appear in front of their own support.

“We have a great night of professional boxing and some great fights lined up,” added Steve.

“Darlington is a hotbed for boxing and this is a fantastic opportunity to bring shows here. If we can get this first one right, then we can build on it and make this town a bastion for boxing.

“We couldn’t be where we are today without the support of local communities and the sponsorship of Grosvenor Casino who, not only have they been with me from the start in Newcastle, but the Stockton establishment is proudly sponsoring this show as well.”

Sponsored by Grosvenor Casino Stockton and Bijou Darlington, venue for the official after-party, Friday 13 Fight Night takes place at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington on May 13. Doors open at 6:30pm, first fight 7:30pm and tickets are on sale now priced at £35 standard and £75 VIP from the PBNG Ticket Office

PBNG Announces Friday Fight Night




Promoter Steve Wraith and Pro Boxing Newcastle Gateshead can officially announce their next professional boxing show.

Darlington’s Dolphin Centre will host, on the night of Friday 13th May ‘Friday Fight Night’ and which will headline a Northern Area title clash between the ‘Horden Hitman’ Anthony Hardy; 8-2 against the ‘Mackem Mexican’ Lee Mould; 7-1-1 (2).

Also appearing will be the returns of Darlington duo Neil Hepper; 6-4 in his first professional outing since November 2014, and Lloyd Creighton 1-2 who returns after over seven years away from the sport. Both Hepper and Creighton are managed by Steve Wraith.

‘Friday Fight Night’ is sponsored by Grosvenor Casino, anyone else wishing to take advantage of our sponsorship opportunities please email petermann78@hotmail.com asap.

Tickets for the show will be on sale soon via this website, and the fighters on the show.


Creighton joins PBNG


Former professional boxer and Darlington super middleweight, Lloyd Creighton is returning to the fight game under the guidance and tuition of manager-promoter Steve Wraith and his Pro Boxing Newcastle Gateshead brand.

It has been over seven years since Creighton, now 38, threw a glove about the ring (akin to the recently departed Andrew Buchanan) and he is looking to make up for lost time, as soon as possible, and is taking impressively massive steps to do joining the Saunders Gym in Sedgefield alongside Jeff Jnr and another Steve Wraith managed star, Neil Hepper.

“Everything that has happened before has brought me to where I am now and all I’ve been through has made me stronger,” began Creighton as he took a philosophical approach to his impending return to the game.

“This is definitely a new start for me and, with my being at the Saunders gym, I’ve known Mark (McGuinness) and Neil (Hepper) for a number of years, Mark in fact I have known since the amateurs.

“With Steve (Wraith) it’s definitely a whole new ball game and I was asked by the Saunders camp if I’d be interested in coming back and those combined add a bit extra positivity. I need that sort of vibe around me and I’m glad they’ll be there to do it.”

Creighton, who also trains at the Be Inspired Gym in Newton Aycliffe and takes Strength and Conditioning sessions with Glenn Wilson now finds himself with team Saunders every evening and already doing six threes on the pads.

“I’ll be starting at middleweight but looking at light middleweight in the near future,” Lloyd continued.

“There’s no real problems with my being back in the gym, it’s just about stripping that weight down and making a go of it.”


Adjoufack joins Wraith’s growing stable


Former Cameroon Olympian, Christian Donfack Adjoufack, became the second professionally-managed signing of Steve Wraith earlier this week having signed a three-year contract with the Tyneside businessman.

Adjoufack, who appeared at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has been training in Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees alongside long-time friend and fellow boxer, Abdon Hyacintoo and under the tutelage of Paul O’Malley.

Manager Steve Wraith was approached by O’Malley after the pair met several times on the professional circuit and was aware of Steve’s taking out the manager’s contract and Steve is grateful for that ongoing support and respect.

He said: “Paul has been as good as his word over the past twelve months and that shines in my eyes.

“We’ve kept in touch and I’m honoured that I’m able to give Christian his chance as a professional boxer. He (Christian) is a giant of a man but has the talent and commitment to become that rising star and, although the signing came out of the blue for me it’s exciting to sign someone of his calibre.”

Although presently living in Rotherham, Adjoufack has plans to move north next year, the former seven-times Cameroon national champion lives, eats and sleeps boxing making himself, and stable-mate Abdon, a credit to both their gym, and the sport.

“We’re looking at getting him out as soon as possible in the New Year, fitness dependent,” began O’Malley.

“He has a good training ethic and fantastic attitude which shows that he wants it bad and is in the training solidly five days a week. Although he lives in Rotherham he comes to us and shows that dedication and both he and Abdon are raring to go – they went to school together, the Olympics together and now they are professional boxers together as well.”

Christian Adjoufack signed a three-year professional management contract with Steve Wraith at Hogans Bar in Darlington on November 10 2015.

View Christian Adjoufack’s PBNG profile HERE


Hepper becomes Wraith’s first signing


Darlington’s Neil Hepper, 6-4, became Steve Wraith’s first professionally-managed boxer this week when he signed a three year contract with the Newcastle-based promoter.

Hepper, who has not fought since November 2014, makes the return with a completely new team behind him (he’ll also be trained by Jeff Saunders Snr and Mark McGuiness) and will make his return in late Spring 2016, hopefully in Darlington.

Neil said of the news: “I was already aware of the connections between Steve (Wraith) and the Saunders camp and a lot of people have come to me asking about my returning, especially Tracey and Steve.

“They have a great, strong team in that gym and I now believe that I have the full package available to me; that and Steve is certainly one of the lads.

“Personally I just needed to re-evaluate and I know that I can do something good in the sport and will give 100% effort, commitment and a fresh outlook to my impending return.”

Steve meanwhile, who took out his managers licence earlier this year after three years as a promoter, is delighted to make Neil his first signing.

He added: “It’s great that I can make Neil my first signing and, although he was still under contract at the time he was someone I was interested in.

“I’ve bided my time and it’s paid off and I couldn’t have done that without the proper introductions made by Tracey (Saunders). I’ve watched him fight before and he’s a great lad , exciting and good for the north-east as a whole.

“Now it’s just a case at looking at a possible homecoming towards the end of April 2016.”

Neil Hepper signed a three-year professional management contract with Steve Wraith at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington on November 10 2015.

View Neil Hepper’s PBNG profile HERE



Neil Hepper


Born: 06.03.1988 (age 29); Darlington, County Durham

Division: Super Lightweight

Record: 9 – 4

Manager: Steve Wraith

Sponsors: Boxfit Health ClubBoss EmbroideryDL Sports Therapy – 3D Strength

Appearances (as of August 2017)

17/09/2010 vs Matt Seawright Won PTS4 (40-36)                                Dolphin Centre, Darlington

12/12/2010 vs Damien Turner Won PTS6 (60-53)                             Rainton Meadows, Houghton-le-Spring

18/09/2011 vs Graham Fearn Won PTS4 (40-36)                           Rainton Meadows, Houghton-le-Spring

25/03/2012 vs Gary Fox Lost PTS6 (57-58)                                           Borough Hall, Hartlepool

30/09/2012 vs Gary Fox Lost TKO5 (1:50) Northern Area                       Borough Hall, Hartlepool

16/11/2012 vs Arturas Zbarauskas Won PTS4 (40-36)                         Dolphin Centre, Darlington

15/09/2013 vs Youseff Al Hamidi Won PTS4 (40-36)                    Northern Echo Arena, Darlington

05/10/2013 vs Luke Campbell Lost TKO1 (1:59)                                        O2 Arena (Millenium Dome), London

23/05/2014 vs Graham Fearn Won PTS4 (40-36)                             Dolphin Centre, Darlington

29/11/2014 vs. Kevin Hooper Lost PTS6 (56-60)                         Doncaster Dome, Doncaster

25/09/2016 vs. Alec Bazza Won PTS4 (40-36)                                               St. James Park, Newcastle

26/11/2016 vs. Michael Mooney Won PTS4 (40-37)                               Dolphin Centre, Darlington

22/04/2017 vs. Michal Vosyka Won PTS4 (40-36)                                     Hardwick Hall, Sedgefield