Peter Akubuko

Pete Akubuko
 ‘Pistol’ Pete Akubuko is a man with a lot on his plate.  At the age of 31 he works as a Restorative Intervention Office for Waltham Forest Council spending his days in school helping deal with behavioural and conflict issue with students, as well assisting them with recognising the warning of conflict and how to steer clear.  Also part of his role is to liaise with the teachers and devise strategies to combat conflict. 
 
On top of this he works in a community project Box 4 Life (www.box4life.org) who aim to “use non-contact boxing to give young people new physical skills, and to help them develop their social and emotional skills alongside others doing the same thing.”  Based in Leytonstone, London, they were formed in 2009 as a community response to a teenage murder and was initially finance by the Home Office through the Communities Against Gangs, Guns and Knives Fund.
 
Also as another project Akubuko works as part of the Power Up Fitness Community (http://www.powerupfitness.co.uk).  Based out of Waltham Forest, London, the group was launched in 2012 and acts as a diversionary activity for young people using street style workouts that utilise publicly available community activities.  “It keeps them away from outside influences that could steer them away from the wrong influences.  I have seen people I grew up with go the wrong way and it’s lack of education, lack of opportunities and things to do.  It’s great to give something back to the community” says Akubuko.
 
All admirable work and each gives an insight to the make-up of the man.  With enough spinning plates to make a Greek waiter sweat with nerves, there is one final challenge for the man who originates from Liverpool – a return to professional boxing.  So with all that he has going on in his life, what has prompted Akubuko to make a comeback in the ring?  
 
“I had one professional fight five years ago and then I left the sport, I had different things going on – I went away and did a university course and a full time job but then one day I thought to myself ‘let’s give it one last crack before it’s too late’ so I’m back” says the smiling Scouser.  His laid back and personable approach make it easy to understand why he is so successful within at times troubled communities – the secondary occupation of middleweight fighter belies his chilled out demeanour. 
 
“It’s the love of it that makes me want to come back.  I don’t want to live with regret – I don’t want to be 45 or 50 and have seen people winning belts and think ‘I used to train with them’.  I’ve seen John Wayne Hibbert get better and better and I wonder if I could have reached those levels if I never left.  Living with regrets is the main thing for me” says Akubuko.
 
It may be the fear of sitting one day and wondering ‘what if?’ that is driving Akubuko, but this isn’t a pipe dream.  There is a boxing background to the multi-faceted fighter as he tells me. “I did a bit of amateur in Liverpool and then moved back to London, did some more amateur down in London and turned professional.  I did a few amateurs, predominantly at West Ham and a few at Peacocks as well as a few up in Liverpool.  I did OK, I got to class B national finals.”
 
It is a solid background and pedigree as Pete embarks on stage two of his professional career.  Stage one started and ended back in February 2010.  He claimed a points win against Duncan Cottier (2-58-3) at K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley.  His return will come on October 17th at York Hall in London, this time facing a similar opponent in Liam Griffiths (3-57-1).  “I don’t know too much but I will be finding out more.  My coach and my trainer will be working out a plan for me” says Akubuko.
 
We talk about how the 31 year old Akubuko compares to the same man who took to the ring five years back.  He tells me how with age, he now has the experience in life to compartmentalise his boxing, able to ensure that he can focus on it when required which he may not have been able to in his earlier years.  There is the thought process that as boxers age they receive their ‘man strength’ – ‘Pistol’ Pete is confident that he is now physically in a good place.  “I feel confident and good coming back.  I’m mentally ready and strong and I’m physically fit too, I have good sparring around me at the gym.  I train out of RJ’s in Chingford now.” 
So what kind of style can the fans at York Hall expect to see upon his return?  “I’m predominantly a southpaw but I like to switch hit a lot too. I mix it on the inside but I like to be on the outside – as a switch hitter I like to open up angles and move around.”  The scar over his left eye is testament to the fact that he doesn’t mind getting in the pocket and fighting – “That’s from an elbow in the amateurs” he informs me.
 
Given the long break from in ring activity, does he feel that nerves could play a part come October 17th?  “That one fight before will settle me down but everyone gets nervous regardless.  I just want to go out and perform and show people that I can make a comeback after this many years out.  In the amateurs I fought at York Hall – I’ve been to watch ones there as well.  It’s going to be electric – the crowd will be buzzing with everything that’s going off and it will rub off on the fighters.  The nerves will be high but I’m confident I will be able to deal with it.”

Akubuko has landed on his feet for his return – on October 17th there will be a revolution at York Hall, as promoter Steve Goodwin puts in place ambitious plans to change the way the famous venue looks on fight night.  The plans are fairly secret, but Pete has had a sneak preview.  What does he make of it all?  “It looks fantastic.  I’m so pleased to be a part of it especially as it’s my first fight back, I’ve timed it well!”  It was Peter’s trainer who put him in touch with Goodwin Promotions – are there aims to go back to Liverpool and showcase his switch hitting?  “I’d love to fight back in Liverpool – but I need to get myself back and get in with bigger and better opponents.  If the Gods allow it I will be heading for the British title.  That should be everybody’s aim in the sport – if you’re going to do it then do it properly.”
 
It’s a big ask for the likeable Scouse fighter.  His is a touching story, working to help children find a better future through his nine to five while also keeping up his community work of a similar vain.  I can’t help but think there may be a conflict though between conflict management and boxing.  When I quiz Akubuko on it, his reasoning makes perfect sense:
 
“To be honest because boxing is such a humbling sport you can talk to them about the discipline and dedication that it takes – it gives them an outlet for that aggression.  They can look at me and realise that if I have pent up aggression I go to the boxing gym and take it out on the pads or in a boxing ring in a controlled environment.  I can educate them with my life experience and the thing I have learnt in my life.”
 
Humbling is a term often attributed to the sport.  ‘Pistol’ Pete has a way about him that makes it obvious why troubled teens would listen to him – he is calming and yet focussed, listens well and speaks with authority.  His aim in phase two of his boxing career is to take home the British title – whether he can achieve that will be played out in the ring over the forthcoming years.  The rest of his career success won’t be as visible to the public but will be equally rewarding.
 
Pete wants to thank United 80 in Brixton provide his kit as well as Box 4 Life who continually support him.