George Hennon

George Hennon
  
Could the table tennis champion of the UK make it at Wimbledon?  Do you think the English Subbuteo champion could score a hat-trick for Man Utd?  No, because although the disciplines may have similarities they are still vastly different.  For the outsider looking in, they may believe that changing from a successful kickboxing career to becoming a professional boxed would be as easy as flicking a light switch – it’s not.  It is however a change that 21 year old George Hennon is embracing.
 
At the age of six, in search of a boxing gym, he stumbled across kick boxing.  By the age of 19 he had become the European welterweight junior champion and the England senior champion – but something wasn’t quite right, as he tells me:  “I’ve always wanted to be a boxer though rather than a kick boxer, you can make more of a career out of it so I quit kick boxing to go to boxing.  I want to make a career out of something I love doing, it’s the whole buzz of fighting in front of a crowd” says Hennon.  The aspiration are familiar as a young fighter making his way in the sport – “My full goal is to be a world champion, which should be the ambition of any fighter starting as a pro.”
 
This is all a new start for Hennon (1-0-0).  After such a successful career in his first discipline, he is having to start again in boxing.  He made his professional debut back in June against experienced journeyman Matt Seawright (5-115-5).  Unlike some debutants who rush from the corner and look for the Hollywood knockout, Hennon was both sensible and realistic in his bout against a man who although he has lost over 100 times, has only ever been stopped on 19 occasions.  “He knew his way around the ring and had been in with any style of boxing you can imagine.  The game plan was not to give away anything silly, just box him.  I knew I had the skills to beat him – the whole fight I didn’t get out of second gear just so I didn’t give away anything silly.  It was really calm, I don’t think I stopped smiling through the fight!”
 
Hennon has the voice of a young cheeky cockney – full of sprite and laughter he reflects with me about how he has had to change from his kickboxing background.  “The styles change massively.  It’s such a different style to the boxing, the stance, balance, movement – people who have no knowledge of it think it’s just without the kicks but it’s not!  It’s everything, so I’ve had to change massively.”
 
It seems though that part physically and part mentally, Hennon had started to prepare himself for the change in sports as he reached the end of his teenage years, as he tells me:  “In my last few years of kick boxing I didn’t enjoy the kicking side of it anyway so I was boxing quite a lot.  There were a few boxers at the gym I went to who were teaching me.  When I quit the kickboxing I went to an amateur boxing gym and they helped me massively, I learnt some of the style from there.” 
 
It was a chance meeting one day though that helped move along the boxing career.  When working as a scaffolder on Lombard Street in London, Hennon saw a face he recognised – that of former fighter Johnny Greaves.  Greaves bowed out of the fighting side of the sport in September 2013 after his 100th bout – recording a rare win against Dan Carr, fittingly at York Hall in Bethnal Green.  “I went to go and speak to him with my mate Sunny – we ended up training with him and he took us on and we are now his protégés, he focuses on training us.  It was all a bit of luck really!” laughs Hennon.
 
Still working as a scaffolder, he has a plan in mind to be able to concentrate his efforts fully between the ropes.  “I’m not fulltime at the moment as I’ve only had the one fight, but hopefully after about four of five I can get some big sponsors on board.  I’m a scaffolder so I work a lot in London, then literally go straight from work to training so it’s long days.”
 
Those long days culminate in Hennon’s training out of the Peacock Gym with Greaves.  He is getting good sparring as well, sharing the ring with unbeaten prospect and a man who splits public opinion, Romeo Romaeo.  “I’ve done a bit of sparring with Romeo.  It’s been good.  The way he comes across on TV is so different to how he is in real life and he’s a nice guy!” he reassures me (don’t worry, we have a piece with Romeo here – he really is a nice guy!).
George is working on different styles of boxing – he confesses to naturally being a back foot counter puncher but says it is something that Johnny Greaves is looking to expand upon.  “I do work better of the back foot, but training with John he’s moulding me to come forward a bit more as well.  Preferably I counter punch, but I’m getting in to different styles now.”  One thing that he hasn’t struggled with is leaving the use of his legs behind – “Not at all, in fact I was struggling to use them at all when I was kick boxing!” he laughs.

The next fight in the career of Hennon will be October 17th at the Civic Hall in Grays, Essex.  He will be taking on another experienced fighter in Ali Wyatt (4-28-2).  He has managed to track down limited video footage of the opponent, but seems well educated on him already.  “ I know a bit – his record is 4-28-2, but in a lot of those losses he has dropped opponents and they have got up and beat him on points, so he’s a dangerous fighter.  I’ll have to not be silly, he’s no mug.  He’s not one I want to go to war with!”

It’s a wise move from Hennon as indeed, Wyatt is an experienced pro and has only been stopped five time in his 28 losses.  By avoiding a war and utilising his slick counter punching, the chances are Hennon can also ensure he is back in the ring in a quick turnaround – something he needs to do to meet his first career goal.  “I want to be trying to get out four times a year.  Because of ticket sales it’s hard to get out more than that.  Hopefully at the end of the twelve months we can look at a Southern Area title, that’s the aim.  Welterweight is a tough division, so I’m taking it all fight-by-fight and don’t look past any opponents.”
As part of the route, he will soon become more reliant upon trainer Johnny Greaves, as he has recently passed his Manager’s licence and will be taking the dual role of trainer and manager for Hennon.  It is a handy situation for both – at present, Hennon is managed by brother Johnny's namesake and close colleague Carl Greaves.  “I’m going to do this fight with Carl, who is brilliant for me, but with John being my trainer it makes sense to work with him.  Carl and John get on brilliantly anyway – as John is learning his trade managing Carl is going to help him with that.”

The transitional period is well underway for this likeable lad from Kent.  Already a huge success in one sport it is a big ask to transfer that to a new discipline.  However with plenty of time on his side and the guidance of top former professionals, it is clear talking with Hennon that he is a sensible 21 year old – willing to learn his trade and not expect favours because of his former successes.  On the 17th of October he will again be applying his new skillsets against Ali Wyatt in a fight he will be expected to win.  Tougher tests will be in front of him in a packed welterweight division, but with the luck he has had already in finding his trainer, he may just make a success in the ring.
George wished to thank his sponsors Business Buddy Group, TR Sports Marketing and NCQ Thrive.