By Lee Elford
The last time fans saw former WBO, European, Commonwealth and British Featherweight champion Nicky Cook in a boxing ring, it ended in an unfortunate first round stoppage to WBO Super Featherweight champion Ricky Burns. “Cookie’s’’ long standing back trouble took a new and career ending turn when the L5 vertebra (Lumbar 5) was affected when taking a shot awkwardly.
It’s been some eight months since that fateful night at Liverpool’s echo arena and Nicky has been out of the limelight and in the sunlight of Tenerife, Spain where he is based with his family. Far from sunning his days away, Nicky has been heavily involved training fighters at his friend’s gym, and is about to take his full trainer’s license.
“When I finished boxing because of my back trouble I had been studying the training side of things for quite a while with a pal of mine, Jimmy, who runs a place over here in Tenerife,” said Cook when speaking to Boxingscene. “I was waking up every day thinking what’s next? What am I going to do? So I stuck to what I know best and went into the coaching side of things.”
He added: “We’ve been preparing to get a camp going by emailing lots of boxing clubs around Europe and the U.K who come over for training camps and I train them all. I’m currently working with the Walsh brother’s [Liam and Ryan]. I’ve also got a few fighters in the pipeline who are coming along nicely and ready to turn professional, so the plan is to get a little camp going and hopefully make some world champions out of it.”
Nicky flies home to take his coaching course this Saturday (10th March) at London’s famous Peacock gym, where he faces a 10-hour day of tests, and will be returning to Tenerife the following Tuesday. He will be taking First aid, second trainer’s licence and a full trainer’s license en route to his coaching license, which will enable him to pass on his world level experience, advice and expertise to a host of would be fighters.
So, on the verge of a new chapter in his career, Boxingscene asked Nicky to reminisce on his rise to the boxing summit, his introduction to the sport, and his personal high’s and low’s. He said: “My Dad, Paul, was a professional boxer and he was also my trainer for the whole journey. As a kid I weren’t really interested in fighting at all. It all started when my older brother, also called Paul, took up boxing. We were playing football and he suggested I come to the gym. I was like, ‘leave it out I’m playing football!’ But he persisted so I eventually agreed to go. There I met Harry Ashdown, the trainer at Barking amateur boxing club who was a lovely old boy. He saw something in me and took me under his wing; the rest as they say is history.”
From here, Cookie would have around 60-70 amateur contests winning all but a handful. His impressive haul as an amateur included three national schoolboy titles and two junior ABA’s. He boxed for England around the U.K and abroad. Although he fell at the last hurdle in the Senior ABA final, he was due to compete for England at the Commonwealth games in Kuala Lumpur but decided to take up an offer to turn professional at just 18.
Nicky would go on to defeat Alex Arthur for the WBO Super featherweight title – on the same bill of Amir Khan’s shock first round knockout at the hands of Breidis Prescott – but he recalls his European title fight victory as one of the highlights of his great career.
“I’ll never forget that night at the Wembley Arena against Cyril Thomas. We took the fight and it was a bit of a gamble as he was undefeated and a fantastic fighter. I remember my Dad coming up to me after seeing one of his defences telling me he’s good, but we’ve seen flaws in him and we think you can beat him. He was about to face me on his fourth or fifth defence. It was a fantastic fight and I knocked him out in the ninth round. This really catapulted me onto the world scene.
“I went on to challenge for the [vacant WBO] world title against a Californian called Steve Luevano down at featherweight and I got stopped in the eleventh round. Frank Warren spoke to me and said that boiling down to featherweight done me and that if I move up a weight he’d get me another title shot, which happened the following year and I won.”
Nicky expressed his deep disappointment at his career coming to a somewhat premature end against flying Scotsman Ricky Burns, and regardless of his ongoing back problems, it was something he was certainly not expecting – but the Stepney born man is fully immersed in his immediate training and coaching career of which he has high ambitions and fills the hole left by his depravity of boxing.
“The L5 vertebra was knocked out during that fight which affects pretty much everything. The ongoing problem I had with my back was a degeneration of a joint which I have had for a few years. I’d passed all the medicals, trained for three months in Tenerife so it was just one of those things. I took a punch in which turned out to be the wrong position and it just went straight away – when your lucks up, your lucks up. I am taking this training licence on the 10th and am looking forward to getting back into the sport. Anybody who’s interested in doing a bit of training should get in touch.”
You can contact Nicky direct through his Facebook account, Twitter account (@NickyCookBoxer) or email: [email protected]