Wayne Adeniyi

“When you’re drowning you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me’ you just scream.”
The words of guitar wielding Liverpool legend John Lennon.  An odd quote to attribute to a boxing website but the words hold a resonance with 32 year old unbeaten cruiserweight from the Wirral Wayne Adeniyi.  For Adeniyi his metaphorical water was life growing up in the 80’s where being a mixed race child found its challenges that would ultimately break and then shape his career.
“I was a fighter from a young age, I remember fighting as a baby.  My mum split up with my old fella and brought me home to her family when I was about three and I was growing up in a white environment” says Adeniyi in an accent that could only have come from the home of The Beatles.  “I’m mixed race, so I got a lot of kids wanting to put it one me at that age.  I remember my mum bringing me home to Rockferry at the age of three and having about 20 kids lining up to fight, at three!  I was a little warrior so by the time I was 13 or 14 I was doing my street thing and moving away from the football, I was getting nicked and fighting every Tom, Dick and Harry from the local area and different towns and schools.  I loved boxing, it always appealed to me so by the time I was growing out of football I started doing a bit of training.  I had been kicked out of school on a youth justice programme so they were taking me to the gym as part of the education then I ended up doing a bit of jail after that.  As soon as I got out I knew I had to get my shit together and settled into a boxing gym.  It was a good, positive outlet for me.”
The boxing gym was where Adeniyi found solace, a place that not only helped develop a career and a craft but also offered him guidance that would steer him away from the troubles of the street he had become embroiled in.  “I didn’t actually start boxing until 17 or 18 but I was in the gym a few years before I had my first fight - I was a cracking amateur and had my first fight at 22” he tells me. 
Adeniyi is easy to warm to.  Often our conversation drifts away from his background and career but never far from the industry of boxing.  We mull over the current hot topic of boxing forums, the video bloggers.  He is in favour of their input to the sport, finding interest in what people make of the action from a weekend and relishing different insights.  It is clear that he embeds himself to the culture of boxing, not just a 9-5 workplace. 
Despite the troubles in his youth Adeniyi is a deep thinker and talker; happy to reflect back on how boxing steered him away from more treacherous paths that could have been his calling.  “I was still up to all sorts but it was now in a boxing gym.  I was doing sports courses and getting my NVQs and always looking for that positive outlet, I have a good head on my shoulders.  I’m clever enough to know it’s a mad world and I needed to use my gifts to do something positive.  As much as me and the lads are still tight now I knew I needed to do my own thing because I’d seen the pitfalls of the streets.  It’s deep shit that stuff and I became a man.  Thankfully the boxing was a real positive outlet for me.”
Into his 20’s he confesses that he was still involved in “street stuff” but was able to steer clear from the majority of troubles by indulging his time in the boxing gym.  “I competed as an amateur for six or seven years then and did some really good training meeting some really good people.  I had good coaches and mentors.  Once I knew I had enough experience I wanted to turn professional” he tells me.  It was out of Vauxhall Motors ABC that Adeniyi trained and to this day is grateful to those that worked with him.  He talks with the fondness one would associate to a family member when he goes back to those that shaped his amateur skills and career:
“I want to thank Peter Phelan, my old amateur coach.  He’s a great fella.  He’s been a great coach over the years; he was involved with the likes of world champion Paul Butler, Matty Fagan, Nathan Cartwright, good lads who have turned pro.  I just want to thank the club and Jason Millet, another of the coaches, who is an amazing man as well.  There are loads of coaches and great lads at that club and it’s important that places like that are kept open. I spent some great years there and learnt a lot about life at that boxing club.”
When the time came to make the step to professional boxer in November 2011 he managed to fit in four fights within the first 12 months, building an impressive record up in his native Liverpool where seven of his eleven victories to date have taken place.  By October 2013 he had extended his record to nine victories and no losses, but then found himself out of the ring for over a year.  “I had a nice little job on the railways at that time” he tells me.  “I did it for a few months and thought ‘fuck it, I don’t need this, I need to box’ and so I decided to come back.”  The return came in his hardest fight on paper to date, making the step up to Central Area title level where he would face an opponent who not only had he previously shared a ring while training but also shared a home city with – former Commonwealth and British title challenger Carl Dilks.
“I won the Central Area title last December.  I beat Dilksy, I hadn’t boxed in over a year by then.  I had just come back to boxing and had a few fights called off and doors being shut – maybe I should have stayed on the railways!!  I had to go my own way and thank God I did because after a few months it started to turn around and the doors opened.  I still had one or two fights called off but then from out of Heaven came the Central Area opportunity.”  So was it a risk to go from working with the trains to stepping back into the boxing environment?  “It was a big risk, it was definitely not a case of just being happy to get back in the ring.  But you have to take a risk sometimes, especially in boxing.  If I was just happy to get back in the ring I certainly wouldn’t have taken that fight against a seasoned pro like Dilksy.  I knew I was better than Dilksy;  I’ve sparred  him for years and I’ve got all the respect in the world for that man, he’s a good fighter but I knew that even at 75 to 80% of my best I would beat him.  There was a bit of needle on the sly but we’re mates.  There were a few little bubbly things and we were always winding each other up but it’s great we got to settle it.”
With the Merseyside rivalry ended over 10 round in December 2014 there has been only the one fight to date in 2015, with another scheduled for two weeks time against an as yet unnamed opponent.  The next 12 months though Adeniyi plans on making an acceleration through the UK cruiserweight scene and has his eyes on the titles available.  He is respectful enough of the current English champion, Matty Askin, not to speak badly of him as a fighter or as a person.  It is clear that Adeniyi is agnostic to who he fights to get his hands on belts, it is purely the title that interests him.  He does however have a history with the Blackpool based Askin as he explains:
Wayne Adeniyi

“I boxed him in the amateurs and he got the decision.  I boxed terribly, I tried to knock him out.  I was coming down from heavyweight at the time and coming down to 13 stone 7, which I did OK at after that fight.  But at the time he was used to that weight and turned pro shortly after our fight.  I came down in weight thinking I would just knock this kid out and was loading up on shots and he picked his shots well.  He got the decision on a majority I think but it was a shit fight and was only over three two minute rounds.”

That loss to him though doesn’t dent his confidence and he remains confident enough to predict a future path for himself that consists of titles belts.  “I know though that if I box properly then I’m the best in the country.  I’m not saying anything about the other fighters and I don’t go around calling out others because you don’t know what’s coming behind you – but I know I’m the best in this country.  I judge myself as a fighter, I don’t call out other people.”

For now Askin is likely to have his hands full with Southern Area title holder, Lawrence Bennett.  The two fought on October 17th in what ended bizarrely as both fell through the ropes and onto a ringside table, resulting in Askin apparently breaking a rib.  It is unknown at present if the two will rematch immediately – so did Adeniyi see any of the action from that night?  “I’ve seen it on YouTube, Bennett was winning it wasn’t he?” he asks.  As I was sat ringside at the time I was well placed to concur with the Scouser – it did appear that, although the fight only lasted part of one round, the southpaw from Swindon Lawrence Bennett seemed to have the measure of the English champion.  Bennett is a brute of a man, standing clear of six foot four and chiselled of muscle – Adeniyi jokes about not being too fond of taking on such a fighter.  “Nobody wants to fight a big awkward southpaw!  I don’t want anything to do with a big awkward horrible southpaw!!  He can run and jump off a high bridge!  Don’t get me wrong though, when I need to I will beat him, but I wouldn’t choose it!”  It shows the light hearted nature of the Liverpudlian yet also in equal measure the fighting spirit that encompasses him.  The man from Swindon may be a big awkward southpaw but you get the impression that it’s a challenge that Adeniyi would relish.

The other route available if Bennett and Askin are immediately tied up would be the British title, currently held by Ovil McKenzie.  He himself is just getting over a 12 round battle for the IBF world cruiserweight title out in Argentina against Victor Ramirez, a fight controversially deemed a draw by the judges with many spectators seeing the British fighter having done enough to claim the win.  As with other fighters mentioned Adeniyi is nothing but respectful towards McKenzie, speaking encouragingly about him while also not shy to declare that he believes he would have the upper hand should the two meet.  “Ovil’s a warrior, he’s done well.  He’s been out on the road and he’s a serious warrior, I have a lot of respect for that man.  I’m gunning for that title and believe I’m the best cruiserweight in the country.  It’s not that I’m calling out any fighter, I just want to get my hands on titles.  If I had any fighter in mind then I would call them out but I really don’t talk like that, I just want to take on whoever holds the belts.”

For a man who has a background of trouble he has averted himself well to be on a career path now that is heading towards becoming an elite British fighter.  His respectful and warm nature are calming when speaking to him, his guard is loose when in conversation and he seems happy to spare the time talking about the sport he loves.  After the fight he has coming up in November he is taking his time to give something back to those who have helped him stay out of trouble and a cause close to him personally.  “I’m doing a half marathon on 5th December” he explains.  “I’m raising money for my old amateur club, what used to be Vauxhall Motors ABC.  At the moment they need loads of money to keep the club open because the sponsors pulled out.  Vauxhall have pulled out of their sponsorship and it’s now the Wirral Community Boxing Club.  They’ve raised 50 or 60 grand this year, so they’re going to meet their target, but I’m doing the marathon to help them raise more money.”

It is a grand gesture of giving back to those that have helped him over the years.  It reflects both the warm nature of the man I speak to and the respectful tone he uses when looking back at those coaches who guided him out of street trouble and kept him in the gym.  If it wasn’t for their influences Adeniyi may not be in a position where he is now, to build towards the top of the English and British cruiserweight scene.  The doors are now opening again on a career that was once at risk of being lost to the train industry, now he has the chance to continue making those coaches proud and give something back to them in return.

Wayne Adeniyi wished to thank his sponsors who support his career:
First Contact Solicitors
Birkenhead Building and Roof
Pinnacle Electrical
All Aspects Roofing