Duane Sinclair

Josh Kennedy
Sometimes in life, it's just meant to be. For Duane Sinclair there is almost a sense of fate in his new venture to professional boxing and the team that he has guiding him. At 33 many would feel the time has passed to take up the challenge, but for Sinclair it is more a continuation of a journey, one that has yet to reach its climax. He has a different back story to many that are looking to make their pro debut. Not the stories of trouble driving them to the boxing gym, but instead a number of career paths that wouldn't look out of place on the most professional of CVs.

"I'm a teacher in the day, teaching maths in South Clapham" he tells me. "It's about my fourth year, I was a Financial advisor for about eleven years. You know what it was? I had no direction. I actually started off as a graphic designer, I was really good at art and I was handy with numbers. I really didn't know what I wanted to do as a job so I started just doing things that I could do. Then I started doing financial advising and if you do it well you can make a lot of money, but I got bored of the hours. I then did a PGCE using my numbers skills to become a maths teacher."

It almost seems a guided choice then that having made the decision to now be a paid fighter, he has chosen to sign with Goodwin Promotions. The head of the organisation, Steve Goodwin, parlays his boxing business with his other role of.....Financial Advisor. "When I first met Steve we were talking about the ups and downs of it!" laughs Sinclair recalling his first engagement with the promoter.  So at 33 and being new into professional prizefighting, is this an old dog being taught new tricks or is there a grounding in place for the 33 year old in the sport already? It turns out this is far from a new venture for him as he tells me:

"I started karate when I was about eight years old. I got disqualified though in a competition for being too aggressive. How can you be disqualified for being too aggressive?! So my dad took me kick boxing instead at about 13 and it developed from there. My hand speed has always been one of my best assets, then I got a groin injury and I was out for about two or three years." He explains to me though that as injury struck, he was starting to lose the love of the sport. "My last fight before that injury I lost it on the kick counter, you have to do a certain amount of kicks during each round. I thought 'that's rubbish, look at the state of him and I lost because I didn't do enough kicks!'. After the injury I then decided to go to an amateur boxing club rather than kick boxing when I was recovered."

Sinclair went on to have an impressive amateur boxing career after starting at the age of 25, amassing an impressive 32 wins from 38 fights and picking up numerous honours as well as representing a London select squad against Italy
. However there was a change in direction that occurred. He explained to me how turning professional back in his amateur days was discussed, but horror stories at the time around requisite ticket sales out him off of the idea,pointing out that a day job already provided him enough stress. "I used to spar Dillian Whyte at the time and he said to me I was wasting my time, building up other people and not myself. It was true." One day in the gym though he was given his chance to test the water, being offered a paid bout in the ever growing unlicensed boxing scene. A chance to see if he could sell tickets without having to turn professional, he took the bout on. It was when returning to his amateur club though that they had been told he was no longer eligible to compete in the amateurs, forcing Sinclair's hand to take on some more fights in the unlicensed Queensbury Boxing League. Having sold 150 tickets in his first bout it seemed the natural place for him to continue his boxing career. Again he found further success as he tells me.

"I was good. I was a two weight national champion.  It got to the point where there weren't any fights left for me in the organisation so I had to make a choice."
 
As the bouts had now dried up it was time for Duane to take the next step in his boxing journey, as he made the decision to turn over to professional boxing. His debut has now been set, March 5th 2016. He is lucky enough to be part of a large Goodwin Promotions bill at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, a place where his promoters have taken up residency and revolutionised small hall boxing with their new staging, musical accompaniments and razzmatazz typically associated to shows in large arenas. Sinclair will fight at light heavyweight, although an opponent has yet to be confirmed for him.
I ask if his age is a concern, some fighters having retired from professional boxing by the age that he will first be lacing up the gloves in the paid ranks. "No, I've always been into highly competitive sports, I've never been into drinking or smoking, I've lived a healthy life. Even during the kick boxing days I used to be a runner for the South of England, so I've always been fit. I might be older but I've got experience. I spar with the likes of Dillian Whyte and Isaac Chamberlain who has just turned pro with Eddie Hearn. I train with the GB boxers as well and I hold my own."

He sounds confident as his first fight approaches. Does he see that with time arguably against him though that he is going to have to rush his progression in a way that a younger fighter wouldn't?  "It will be a bit of a fast track, but I do feel it won't be beyond my abilities" he states with an air of someone who isn't fazed by the challenges ahead.  "I'm ready to be fast tracked. I know sparring is different to the actual bout, but the quality of sparring I've had I am confident is harder than anybody I will be facing in my first five fights as I climb the ladder. It won't be within a whisker of it. I'm ready for the step, Steve told me when we first met up that he'd had a look at what I'd done and some of my fights and was sure I could move on quickly."

Sinclair Is a rare blend of fighter, one that comes into the professional sport with both a schooled amateur background and the more professional styled unlicensed skills. Partnered with his former kick boxing skills, does he see it as an advantage to have such a varied mixture of disciplines? "I think that's exactly it. I have the ring craft from the amateur side but the hurt game from the white collar. When the first bell rang in my debut unlicensed fight I was throwing loads of tapping shot at my opponent, it was a different world! The fight got stopped in the fourth round when I'd settled in and was throwing bigger shots, I landed a big overhand right and that was it" he recalls to me. "My biggest skills has always been speed and accuracy.  Not to say there isn't any power but what I've been told is I can box and fight. In a situation where it's a battle of tactics and almost a stalemate with two technical boxers where nothing happens, I've been able to push the fight and get on the inside. It goes back to having a mix of amateurs and white collar and is helped by my kick boxing days too. I've got the grounding of the boxing but if I want a tearup I can do that, then step back and dictate the pace of the fight again."

We discuss how far in the sport he believes his unique skill set can take him. Initially he had thoughts of Area title belts, but it it is others who have broadened his aims. "I thought if I could get a Southern Area title I'd be happy. But then when I've said it out load, people have said to me 'look at your weight division, you could easily get a British title or side track to a WBO intercontinental belt'. The people I've been around believe in my ability which is flattering. The way I feel when I'm training, keeping up with 18 and 25 year olds that are ranked number one at GB I think there's so much I can do. I'm not putting a ceiling on how far I want to go."

He tells me that every achievement from now on will be a bonus to him because as Sinclair puts it himself "I'm meant to be too old to do it in the first place! I'm meant to have bowed out of boxing gracefully" he laughs. There appears little risk of him stopping anytime soon. The newest leg of his journey is merely starting. Talk of European routes may still be some way off but, in a weight division that domestically is lacking in top level talent the doors are wide open for Sinclair. He may spend his Monday to Friday teaching students at school but his next set of lessons is only just beginning.

Duane Sinclair is currently actively looking for sponsorship from businesses who can support him in his boxing journey and can contact him on Twitter (@HotShotSinclair).

Tickets for his debut can be purchased at www.goodwinpromotions.co.uk