Reading boxer to make ring comeback after 20 years – Reading Today Online

STMA boxing

ONE OF Reading’s best-known boxing coaches is stepping back into the ring after a 20-year hiatus.

Tommy Johnson has trained hundreds of promising young pugilists from Reading over a 28-year coaching period.

The 49-year-old ran Tommy’s ABC for a decade from 2004 before coaching at Bulmershe Boxing Club for many years.

He now teaches talented fighters to duck, weave, parry and punch at Shaolin Tigers Martial Arts Academy–Reading in Scours Lane, Tilehurst.

But the lure of the bell and his approaching half-century have led him to sign up for a dust-up in Swindon in February.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m old but I’m not done yet. I want to prove I can still do it at 50.”

Network Rail Project Manager Mr Johnson got into the sweet science after coming unstuck in a few scuffles on the tough council estate where he grew up.

He said: “I needed to learn to defend myself and went to the local club where I learned the art of boxing.

“My last fight was in 1993, which I lost on points. I had 11 fights before that at lightweight (60kg) and had a decent 50-50 record. In one fight I was knocked down in the second round before laying my opponent out in the third.

“I’ve been inspired by the team around me. Recovery is definitely harder now with lots of niggling little injuries, and I’m nervous — but fear drives me.”

Mr Johnson is an integral part of STMA Academy-Reading’s England Boxing setup. As well as shedding 5kg in preparation for his own super middleweight fight, he recently helped two STMA bruisers – Julian Polk and Michael Simon – to win local belts.

He’ll be joined by another STMA boxer, promising 19-year-old Cameron Pridham, at the white collar event in Swindon on February 24th.

Former Little Heath School pupil Mr Pridham has an impressive 5-0 win record but will drop a weight class for his to a 72kg welterweight ‘prizefighter’ contest. Another successful showing may lead him to step up to amateur level.

Mr Pridham said: “I honestly can’t wait for this fight. I’ve got the best team around me and I’m working hard to have the best stamina and conditioning I can possibly have.

“I’m also looking to fix any faults in my technique, which means more sparring than ever, which I love.”

Mr Pridham, who is 5ft 9in, has been taking advice from Mr Johnson and Graham Corker at STMA Academy-Reading.

STMA Academy-Reading owner Dan Eden said: “We’ve got a great bunch of boxers and coaches at the club, including everything from beginners to up-and-comers and veterans like Tommy. We’re looking forward to a good showing on Feb 24th and bringing many more belts back to Tilehurst.”

By George Hamilton

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