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Former jockey Dean Heslop now a successful boxer
FROM the parade ring to the four-sided roped ring is a journey few sportsmen would negotiate.
But 26-year-old Dean Heslop has gamely jumped from one of the most arduous sports into arguably the most physically demanding.
The Thirsk-born jockey rode 50 winners, no mean feat in the gruelling world of horse-racing. But the seeker of thrills and spills has now hurled himself into boxing.
And armed with the same zeal-drenched competitiveness, he has shrugged off a dismal debut to rattle up four successive wins.
Trading stirrups for tear-ups, Heslop is now one of the new hits on the block bursting from the corner of Henry’s Gym, York’s newest boxing club run by the city’s most distinguished professional boxer, Henry Wharton.
The former undefeated European, British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion has assembled a wide range of boxers at his establishment, housed at the former Regent Cinema on York Street in Acomb. But none are more dedicated, diligent or determined than Heslop.
Besides a regime of training three times a week at the gym, he also rides out daily at the Thirsk yard of his employer, esteemed racing trainer David Barron. If that was not enough, when he is not boxing or riding horses at the crack of dawn he is also out running.
Said Heslop: “I believe that the work I do out of the gym is arguably as important than the work I do in the gym, because it means I do not switch off or tone it down.”
A self-confessed “bit of a wild lad” he recalled how it was his school who got him a job at a stables during his teenage years.
“I was at Lynda Ramsden’s stables and she sent me to the Norton Racing College. She also arranged for me to go to Andrew Balding’s stables (at Kingsclere) for a year and a half,” said Heslop.
He returned to North Yorkshire to ride for Barron, bagging his first winner at Musselburgh and going on to rack up 50 triumphs over five years.
“But I always wanted to box and if I start something then I always want to see it through. Now I want to see how far I can go.”
Heslop revealed how as a jockey his main ambition was to notch a winner. That achieved, he persevered, but when he got to 50 visits to the winner’s enclosure he felt it was time to devote more to his ardour for boxing.
So, while still attuned to riding out for Barron, he picked up the red gloves and started training at Selby.
However, his progress has been impressive since he linked up with Wharton and his training team at Henry’s gym.
After a dubious unfavourable result in his first outing, Heslop knuckled down to register four consecutive conquests, two coming in very short succession – first in York, then several days later in Leeds.
He is also due to fight again on Saturday, confirmed Wharton.
“He is a breath of fresh air,” said York’s most decorated boxer.
“Dean has never refused a contest. He just gets on with it and then says ‘when’s my next fight’?”
Heslop’s sporting passion has been rekindled by his ring-bound endeavours, the jockey turned boxer declaring: “My aim is to work hard, train hard and get as far as I can.
“It might be a cliché, but I will take each fight as it comes.
“I love getting into the ring. I do like to fight and I will never stop liking that. People are scared of failing, but you don’t grow if you don’t know how to lose.”
Heslop, however, has no plans to lose as he prepares to go “onwards and upwards” and his confidence has been boosted by working at close-quarters with Wharton.
“I would never fight for anybody else but for Henry and his team,” said Heslop.
“He appreciates all the hard work you put in and he makes you believe you can win. He is a very special man.”
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