Boxing legend Emmanuel Steward is tipping Bradley Skeete to become one of the world’s best.
Boxing legend Emmanuel Steward is tipping former Earlsfield star Bradley Skeete to become one of the best in the world.
Steward – who’s coached a list of world champions including Lennox Lewis – bestowed the glowing verdict upon Skeete having seen the 23-year-old welterweight notch his second professional win.
The likeable South Londoner said of the praise: “To hear that, I thought it was amazing. I’m still learning though.”
Having learnt his trade at Wandsworth based Earlsfield ABC, Skeete – who works at a cleaning firm to aid his income – admits it’s a long road ahead, with success having a direct impact on his personal life.
He said: “The hardest thing is my girlfriend and baby living in Coventry and not seeing them.
“The money’s not great at the start but one day they’ll be able to move down here so we’re together. When times are going hard that gives me the drive.”
Under the watchful eye of professional coach Alan Smith, Bradley also feels he’s found that connection vital to success, and sanity.
Skeete added: “Al is more than just my coach, he’s like family. That’s the bond you need in boxing because it’s a lonely, selfish sport. If you haven’t got good people around you it will break you.”
In any other sport a loss can be moved on from with much less scrutiny. In boxing, however, the repercussions of defeat can be devastating.
So the enthusiasm and comfort with which the 6 foot plus welterweight talks of his life as a prize-fighter is infectious.
He said: “Social life, what’s that! It’s not nice having to give up times with your friends but I’ve never been one for partying.
“This is my job. You wouldn’t turn up late for work every day because you’d get the sack. So with boxing if you have a beer when you shouldn’t, you’re going to get found out.
“I started boxing when I was seven when my dad worked for Sid Khan, my coach at Earlsfield. When I knew Sid had the boxing gym I started from there and never looked back.”
It didn’t take long for the youngster to discover he had a knack for the fistic art.
“Boxing comes natural really. I was always good at it! When you are young it’s just a hobby but I had my first bout at 11 and won, then when I did well in the schoolboy championships I got picked to box for England in a tournament.
“I won the gold medal and from then I knew it was serious.”
Earlsfield ABC, the starting place for national hero Frank Bruno, continued to be the place of business for Skeete’s successful progression in the amateur ranks.
Despite having reached three schoolboy finals, an ABA final and winning the NABC tournament, Skeete was soon made aware of the difference he had undertaken in his rough pro debut at Bethnal Green’s York Hall.
He admitted: “My first fight I had a clash of heads and looked to the ref to say he’s just head butted me! He just said carry on! That was a reality check after wearing a head-guard in the amateurs.”
Having notched three wins in the paid ranks, Bradley hopes to stretch his perfect streak when the boxing season resumes this month.
Whether or not he can live up to the heady praise from Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Steward though is something he’s typically taking in his stride.
He said: “I’ve had three fights now so in another three fights time you never know how much better I’ll be. It’s exciting times.”