Derry Mathews interview - Sports Involve

Sports Involve

Derry Matthews winning title

Derry Mathews interview

Derry Mathews is a former professional British boxer and a WBA interim lightweight champion. Derry has worked hard throughout his career and recently decided for himself to retire from boxing after 52 career fights. Once retired, Derry opened up the Derry Mathews boxing academy, where he aims to train children and adults to improve their boxing skills and knowledge. Stephen Matthews, founder of Sports Involve, interview Derry to find out more about him and his boxing career.

Early life and the start of his love for boxing

Firstly, we asked Derry what encouraged him to get into boxing, and when he first entered the sport. Derry told us “I started boxing at the age of 8 at the famous Salisbury ABC, like many others. I lived next door to the club so it was my youth club and home, I was always there.” Derry also told us about his love for Salisbury ABC “I didn’t leave Salisbury ABC; I had no reason to as I felt it was the best club in the world. You only had to look around the club to see the talent that was there.”

Amateur career

When he was an amateur, Derry had a portfolio of fights which helped him to gain plenty of experience, and he was competing against the highest-level prospects across the country. When we asked about the many impressive accolades that Derry earned during his amateur career, he explained: “I won the schoolboy title, the NABC title, the junior ABA title, a junior Olympic gold medal, the Hancock box cup gold, and a senior aba title, of which I was the youngest ever winner.”

We then asked if there were any accolades that he thought he could have won but didn’t, and he told us, “yes I know that I’d of won the Commonwealth Games in Manchester if selected, I was on the world-class performance programme by England boxing so I had a bright future with them. I wasn’t selected by England for the Commonwealth Games after I had won senior aba title, but I felt that I deserved to go as all the other champions went. After this, I was approached by Steven Vaughan and Gary Metcalf and they offered me a contract I couldn’t refuse.”

The first defeat

Derry Mathews turned professional quite early due to his high skill set and phenomenal training. When he turned professional, Derry went on a 20 match unbeaten run and managed to build his way up to a championship fight. Unfortunately, his unbeaten run was ended in this championship fight where he suffered a defeat to veteran boxer Choi Tseveenpurev. We asked how this defeat phased him and how he went about avenging the defeat, Derry told us, “losing my first fight was heart-breaking, but I am a fighter so knew I’d be back. I believe I’m mentally stronger than anyone, and I think that my defeats and the way that I came back from them show that.”

Weight divisions and difficulties 

derry matthews

Derry Mathews was a fighter who consistently challenged at lightweight, and sometimes at middleweight, but was often thought to be too large for his weight class because of his tall frame, but this didn’t phase him. We wondered why he never considered a higher weight division. Derry explained “I was a lightweight champion and I was on top dollar. I couldn’t move up a weight higher because I liked the money too much!” 

Although Derry enjoyed the benefits that came from the lightweight division, there where a few disadvantages, one of which is the difficulties that come with weight cutting for fights. Derry informed us about his experiences “Weight making is killing if you go online there’s a case study from John Moore’s University which describes my whole diet fluid intake etc.”

Coaches and fighting inspirations

Derry Mathews trained at Salisbury ABC throughout his career, but we wanted to know about the inspirations that caused him to get into fighting and how his coaches helped him throughout his career. Derry revealed, “Tony Challinor made me fall I love with boxing he was more than a coach to me and a man I highly respect and speak to daily. Alan Lynch is known as the boss man. he is a top man and genuine fella I have massive respect for. Franny Smith, Jimmy Carrol, Paul Lawson, and John Carrol where also a few amateur coaches who played a massive part in my career.”

“George Vaughan – people know what that man means to me. He played father figure to me and guided me not just in boxing, but in life, and to this day still tells me off. Danny Vaughan was like a big brother, but a coach I highly respect and without Danny taking me back to Scotland I wouldn’t be doing this interview as I was a finished fighter. Danny had this extra special way of getting the best out of me. I also loved Oliver Harrison as the man gave me a chance and made me enjoy the game again.”

Retirement and coaching

Derry Mathews retired in 2017 when he was 34, but we wanted to know why he made the decision to retire. Derry explained to us “I retired as soon as I lost my motivation, I’m a clever fighter and I know my body couldn’t take anymore. I listen to Danny and George more than I listen to my parents, and when they advised me to retire the decision was made on the spot, and now I have no regrets.”

After his retirement, Derry Mathews decided to open up his own boxing gym to train the next generation of boxers and help improve their knowledge and abilities. When we asked Derry what made him want to open his boxing gym and what his aspirations are for the future of the club he told us,

“I have seen some fighters retire and just take drugs, party and go to the pub but I’m different from a lot as I knew from the age of 16 when I completed the training badges, I wanted to be a coach and I felt it would be a waste if I didn’t put the knowledge I had learnt back into the sport. My dream is to take a kid of my estate and make him a champion, but I aspire to produce champions year in year out while educating children and teaching them manners and knowledge of how to respect others.”

After Derry told us about his reasons for opening a boxing gym, we wanted to know about his team and the success that he had already achieved. Derry explained, “I have a great team consisting of Mick Jenno, Kev Byrne, Jim Westbury, Ashley McFarlane, Tommy Peacock, Dawn Mahaffey, Alan Humphries, Theo Lyndsey, and Rob. So far we have got our 3rd season coming up and we have had a National Finalist and 2 fighters in the England team.” 

This interview was conducted by Steven Matthews. If Derry’s story has inspired you to get into the combat sports world, why not check out our club directory to find a combat sports club near you, or if you are interested in other interviews or blogs, visit our blog page where we have interviews with the likes of Carly Skelly and Shaun Farmer. If you would like to find out more about Sports Involve, please visit our website.   

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