Thomas makes it three wins on the trot!

Thomas Bradford using the punch bagThomas Bradford is an eager young man at Merlins Bridge Amateur Boxing Club who has recently won his last three bouts after losing his opening three contests.
He provides positive proof of the head coach Graham Brockway, who says that as long as his young charges show commitment to training and listen to good advice than the rewards will surely follow.
"We never hurry anyone joining Merlins Bridge because we are happy for people to come along for their fitness but if they want to progress to some sparring and then get into the ring to box then that is fine for us.
"Thomas was with us for 12 months before he wanted to spar and another six months before he had his first bout - and after a short run of defeats as he gained experience and confidence his win hat-trick, two of them by knock-out, has shown what he is capable of."

Full of praise for immense support

Thomas Bradford Ask Thomas about those victories at Port Talbot, Llanelli and then back to Port Talbot, and it is good to report that his first reaction is to praise the support he has received over the past two years.
"Graham has been inspirational and shows total respect for what we want as boxers - and anything I achieve I owe to his expertise.
"My first win was a bit unexpected because I had travelled to Port Talbot as a reserve, expecting to watch James Griffiths take on a local boxer - but James was too heavy so Graham asked me if I was up for taking part against Rhys Devonald (Afan Spartans).

Surprise bout – and a surprise win

"I was a little nervous because he had boxed 26 times before and I only had eight bouts - but I trust Graham's judgement and so agreed to give it a go.
"I was cheered on by James and some of his friends, plus some of my pals from the club like Joe and Peter, Ian and Nia Smith - and after two rounds I felt I was in with a chance. The last round went really well and I got in some good combination punches - and I can't tell you how I felt when the referee raised my hand raised my hand as the winner!"

Success follows success

That success certainly boosted Thomas's confidence because he did even better in Llanelli when he took on Beau Besley (All Saints) but felt he was slightly behind on points with a round to go.
"I managed to manouevre him onto the ropes and as he came back I landed a right hook which caught him flush on the chin and the ref stepped in straight away to stop the bout and I picked up the winners' trophy.
Then there was another KO success in his most recent bout, back in Port Talbot as he took on an opponent named Zachary Rigg from the army's Royal Logistic Corps and settled in well in a fairly quiet first round before unleashing a powerful body shot which caused the ref to give the soldier a standing count - before another right hook saw him gain another win by knock-out.

High praise from coach Brockway

No-one was more delighted than Mr Brockway, who told us,
"Thomas is only ten stone but punches heavily for a young man of his weight as reward for his hard work on the heavy bag, which has really paid off."
That commitment to training is reflected by his weekly schedule where he attends every evening of the week and also works hard on the weekend, where he gets in taxing runs and includes the dreaded steps from near the Bristol Trader up to St Thomas' Green, sometimes as many as five times!

Thomas Bradford training hardLoves being involved with horses at home

Prior to his involvement in boxing, however, it would be fair to say that although he dabbled with rugby, football and cricket he wasn't a typical sports player - and his main leisure interest he shares with his mother Sue at their family home revolves around their five horses.
"I first started riding when I was under four and followed mum into one day eventing, which involved dressage, cross country and show jumping; and which involved a great deal of travel around the county.

Learning new skills for tetrathlon

"That led me into tetrathlon, which involved shooting, swimming, running and horse riding, and demanded my learning lots of new skills.
“I went to John Munt and Co at the Haverfordwest Target Shooting Club to learn how to shoot properly and after being warmly welcomed I really enjoyed learning a great deal there – but I found the swimming far more difficult and really had to work hard to get from being a raw novice to someone who could at least hold his own in the pool.
“I already enjoyed keeping fit so the running part of the event was fine – and I already loved the contact between horse and rider that dressage encourages.
“I still love the time I spend with our retired racehorse named Flo alongside Monty, our Welsh mountain pony, and our gentle giant Dutch Warm Blood we call Bernard. Then there’s Willow, the baby of the quintet who we bred ourselves from a thoroughbred and a shire horse – and the oldest is Dotty, who used to be very good at eventing under the guidance of my mother!”

Started boxing by chance

Thomas competed with his horses for some time but the travelling and cost was inevitable considerable and his conversion to boxing came almost by chance one day as he was driving to work past the Merlins Bridge ABC gym and decided he would like to give it a try.
“I went that night and was made very welcome by everyone – and I loved the training from the outset, as we did some skipping and shadow boxing, which both sound easy until you try them on a sustained basis, when early on they can turn your knees to jelly!

Tough training regime

 “But even tougher was the ‘Ton Up’ routine where there are ten repetitions of ten exercises like press-ups, sit-ups, burpees and range of other ‘tortures’ designed to develop different groups of muscles – and on a good night I might go through that routine three times.
“After a short warm-down it’s time for some work on the heavy bags to build up punching power which is followed by some sparring against opponent of similar height and weight, followed by a fully deserved shower.”
Thomas repeats that little lot every weekday evening, with one of them at The Shack, where there are specialist weight machines, plus a bit of kick boxing for variety.

And finally . . .

This commitment to training has certainly paid off in confidence and a wider range of skills based on time spent in the ring.
“All I want to do is carry on enjoying what I do and see how far I can go with this brilliant coach and our club,” Thomas told us and with his infectious enthusiasm and willingness to learn he is well on the way – and we wish him continued success because he really deserves it!