A boxer’s fight for success and his contribution to Hartlepool has been hailed by the mayor.
Champion Kevin ‘Bulldog’ Bennett has been recognised for his personal achievements as well as the work he has done with the young people of Hartlepool.
Kevin was magic in the ring and now he’s equally inspirational to our young people as well.Councillor Paul Beck
Kevin, who was born in Birmingham but has lived in the town for the past 20 years, was with Hartlepool Boys’ Welfare Amateur Boxing Club when he won the 1999 Amateur Boxing Association of England light welterweight title.
Later, as a professional, he won the 2003 Commonwealth lightweight title and successfully defended it for a further two years.
He then moved into bare knuckle boxing, earning two world titles.
Now aged 42, he is passing on his skills to a new generation, spending the weekends coaching youngsters aged between 10 and 16 at the New Welfare Gym in Lister Street.
Presenting Kevin with a Borough of Hartlepool plaque and a Recognition of Outstanding Achievement in Sport certificate at the Civic Centre, the town’s Ceremonial Mayor Councillor Paul Beck recalled being in the audience when Kevin won his Commonwealth lightweight title in Wales.
Councillor Beck said: “It was amazing to see a lad from Hartlepool doing so well – it was a massive achievement.
“I am delighted to honour Kevin not just for his personal achievements, but also for the excellent work he is doing to encourage youngsters to excel in sport.
“Kevin was magic in the ring and now he’s equally inspirational to our young people as well.”
Kevin – who later this year will be publishing his memoirs called ’30 Years A Fighter’ – said: “I really enjoy my coaching sessions with the young people.
“It gives the youngsters a positive focus, helps them stay fit and although boxing is an individual sport it generates a lot of camaraderie.”
As a fighter in the 1990s and 2000s, Kevin was a professional light, light welter, welter and light middleweight boxer.
The New Welfare Gym offers young people, particularly disadvantaged children, access to fitness and support to look after their wellbeing.
It offers boxing, martial arts and general exercise training and has taken up a space in a former church hall, which had been empty for more than 25 years.
It is run by volunteers, including several who are qualified sports coaches.
More can be found via https://www.facebook.com/thenewwelfare/.