INSPIRATIONAL Mark Denton paved the way for future generations of boxers by “rocking the Borough Hall” on several memorable nights.
That is the view of friend and former coach Tim Coulter who watched the fighter grow from a “gangly 15-year-old” from Hartlepool into one of England’s leading middleweights.
Tim visited the murder scene to lay flowers with Mark’s distraught brother Craig, 32, who was also a succesful boxer.
Craig said: “We can’t believe it. He was just a great lad and to lose him like this is shocking.”
Tim described Craig as a “true gent” who was well-known across the town for his entertaining bouts that sparked people’s interest in the sport.
“The fights that Mark had in the Borough Hall were electrifying,” said Tim.
“He was the first boxer I had who got to that level and it started us off with more people getting interested.
“He may not have been the most naturally gifted, but he showed how hard work could get you to the top and inspired the younger boxers.”
Among those who were up and coming at the Headland ABC gym was Savannah Marshall.
She has gone on to become world-champion and was in the ring at the London Olympics in 2012.
The 22-year-old said she is still shocked by the news, but has many happy memories of her former team-mate.
“When I started boxing, Mark was one of the big stars of the gym,” said Savannah.“I always remember Mark and Craig training with the dance music playing loud and there was always a buzz in the gym.
“I think the night I made my debut, Mark was topping the bill against Gary Barr.
“I just remember the great atmosphere and everyone going wild.
“Mark properly rocked the Borough Hall in those days and he had some great fights there.”
While Savannah’s career was beginning to take off, Mark’s was starting to tail off, though he did, briefly, turn pro with the Dave Garside/Neil Fannan camp.
The exciting fighter stopped Poland’s Pawel Trebinski in the third round of his debut at the Mayfair Centre in 2008 but that was to prove his one and only appearance in the pro game.
As Mark’s career came to an end, he still made sure he was always ringside to watch Craig’s pro-boxing career flourish.
Tim said: “When Mark was at his peak, he had all the attributes and was great to watch.
“He boxed in what they called the English Championship to decide who was number one by having a box-off. He won his first two fights but it caught up with him and he was beaten by Gary Barr, but he did beat him not long after that.
“It was a shame as he would have got funding and the support he needed, but it wasn’t to be.
“Mark was a 100 per cent man. He was all or nothing and I just think he decided boxing wasn’t for him and stopped.
“When he was training, his dedication was second to none. He wouldn’t have a drop of alcohol for nine or 10 months.
“But when he stopped, it was the same with partying. He did everything to the extreme, that was his nature.”
Tim said Mark’s family have been left “devastated” by the tragedy.
He added: “His family were always at his fights and they are good people.
“The bond between Mark and Craig was second to none. They were always training together and ringside at each other’s fights. They even worked together scaffolding.
“Mark was such a happy person. It’s tragic.”