Reece Macmillan

Luke Robinson

Looks can be deceiving.  Luke Robinson is a bull of a man, 24 years old and a handful in the gym.  The times I have seen him sparring he has been an aggressive boxer, always looking to control the speed and tempo of a sparring session and utilise his natural size and strength to work his opponents around the ring.  It took me by surprise then when I got the chance to speak with him prior to his pro debut on March 5th at York Hall he informed me that in fact, the style he works in the gym is a far fling from the way that he has been brought up to box.
 
“You've seen the opposite to how I box!” laughs Luke.  “I'm a nice counter puncher but I've been trying to work on coming forward more because with amateurs it was all point scoring and I was really good at that. I can do a bit of everything, my strength lies in boxing long and I'm very nice on the back foot but in sparring recently I've been trying to mix it up a bit. When I was a kid I was sparring with men and it came naturally to box off the back foot, I didn't want to go forwards with them so now I'm working on coming forwards and not being out of range so much. It's completely different to the amateurs where you get your point and you go.”
 
It is going to be a culture shift that Robinson has to get to grips with and he’s going about it the right way. There are years of amateur boxing in his arsenal; having started at the age of ten and being a sizeable young lad, matches were hard to come by.  By 11 he was weighing in at 60 kilos and as he says himself, he was getting frustrated at the lack of opportunities.  It was then at the age of 12 that he joined a new gym, London Shoot Fighter, that he says was when he “started to take boxing seriously”.  A move from there to Haringey Boxing Club in his mid-teens was another new step for Luke.  “I joined up with Haringey Boxing Club and they travelled abroad, I had my first fight with them when I was 15 and I was about 86 kilos by then. Because they travelled a lot I ended up boxing in places like Sweden and Ghana, then after that I went to a coach called Steve Newland who opened a gym called Hooks in Park Royal. I joined them in 2009 and won the junior ABAs in 2010. I had been the runner up in 2009 but managed to win it with Hooks.”
 
By 2014 Robinson’s amateur career was coming to a close.  With new rules in place to make the transition from amateur to professional an easier route it dawned on him that the time was right to consider ‘turning over’ to the paid version of the sport as he explains.  “My last amateur bout was 2014 and that was in the senior ABAs where I was fighting. I had a bit of a break for six months after that and then started back training again. I was going to give the ABAs another go but I always said I wanted to turn pro about 23 or 24 and I was hitting 23 when the amateur game had changed. The head guards have come off now, the rounds are three lots of three minute rounds; I thought I could do an extra round and get paid for it! It didn't make sense to do the amateurs with head guards off and have the risk of getting cuts and all that when you might as well get a bit of money out of it.”
 
Originally from Ruislip but now living in Shepherds Bush, Luke Robinson is a Londoner born and bred.  It is fitting then that his first professional bout will come at the home of boxing, York Hall in Bethnal Green.  It is part of a huge night of boxing under the Goodwin Boxing banner and promoted by Olivia Goodwin, headlined by Floyd Moore vs Ben Day for the Southern Area lightweight title.  Robinson explains how the world of social media helped him make links to Steve Goodwin, head of the promotional outfit he has signed with.  “I've had Steve on Facebook for a while and always seen his shows and that he's active, making opportunities for his fighters and they're doing well. A few people were speaking well about him so I just got in contact and it all went from there.” 
 
With Goodwin Boxing making huge strides of late, including providing the undercard for the recent David Haye ring return at the O2 and in October 2015 debuting a new setup at York Hall including huge investment in production of the show to make an ‘event’ feel, how does it make Robinson feel ahead of his first ring walk as a paid fighter?  “I've seen the setup, the lighting and the arena look and I'm buzzing for that. Compared to most small hall shows, that's what makes the difference. I was at a small hall show recently and there was none of that and it looked no different from an amateur show really. There's some good bouts on March 5th too” he tells me.  So are there any nerves ahead of making his bow?  “I'm buzzing for it now. The tickets have gone really well and that's the one thing I was worried about but I've done about 100 tickets in five days I think. Tickets are still selling too so that's gone well and I can just look forward to it now.”
  
He will step into the ring on March 5th with Croatian Gordan Glisic (7-28-2).  Familiar on these shores, Glisic is a tough, rugged handful for a debut opponent which clearly shows the confidence his management and promotional team have in Robinson.  Robinson will be making his debut just above the super middleweight limit but in time is going to work his way down to a full blown super middleweight.  Does he know much about his Croation opponent on the night?  “I know he's boxed a few of Steve's fighters before but I haven't seen him yet.  That's the good thing about having so many amateur bouts, you never know who you're boxing” says Robinson.
 
In preparation for his debut Robinson is training with Terry Steward, a man who he had crossed paths with years back and has mixed in quality boxing circles.  “I'd seen a bit of Terry before, back in 2011 or 2012 I was doing a bit of sparring with (current world super middleweight title holder) James DeGale at the Academy in Loughton and I saw Terry there. I didn't know him or anything but I've seen him train people, so when Steve Goodwin said his name to go and link up with it was perfect for me” says Robinson. 
 
We discuss how far he believes he can go in the sport.  Obviously it’s not an easy thing to gauge when he still hasn’t laced up the gloves for the first time as a professional, but Robinson is clear what his minimum aim is.  “I've always said that I'll aim for, and this isn't the limit for me, the British title. I wouldn't stop myself there but I would love to win it.  As a kid I remember always saying I wanted to win the Golden Gloves you get for winning the ABAs and I remember seeing George Groves when I was a kid. It's the same with the British title, I love the history behind that belt. I wouldn't be happy if I never achieved that.”
 
It is a lofty ambition for the London debutant, but just like he saw George Groves win his amateur accolades all those years ago, Robinson was able to emulate the three time world title challenger and pick up his own set of golden gloves.  Can he go on to achieve the same levels in the professional sport?  It is a big ask undoubtedly.  But what is clear is that Robinson has got some of the best support around him in both trainers and management.  He is a naturally gifted athlete; strong, fast and durable in the ring.  The tools are all in place for Robinson and now he has to display his in-ring product on March 5th.
 
Luke wanted to thanks his sponsors who are key in supporting his professional career.  These include:  J. Juchau & Sons, Bellstan Limited Highway Marking Services, Prism, Captain Morgan's Pub in Eastcote and London Shoot Fighters