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Fan Talk: Meeting Iron Mike

Posted on Wednesday, November 30, 2005 @ 19:36:17 UTC by tysonian
A nervous James Woolnough gets to meet his hero close up in Manchester. (Picture by Mike Frisbee, 0264735)
Source: guernsey
by Aaron Scoones

JAMES WOOLNOUGH fulfilled a lifelong dream when he met his idol Mike Tyson.

As an early Christmas present from his mum, the 15-year-old local schoolboy boxer was among the 900 guests at a dinner in honour of Iron Mike at Old Trafford, Manchester.
BBC boxing correspondent Steve Bunce hosted the event and the other guests included boxing greats Frank Bruno, John H Stracey and John Conteh.
The culmination of the evening was a question and answer session during which young Woolnough was chosen to go up on the stage to face the big man and ask him a question.
The young Guernsey pugilist asked him for advice in how to succeed in the hardest game of them all.
Its nothing to do with the physical aspect, its all emotional, said the former world champion,
You have to do what you loathe, and love it . . . thats discipline. Never be discouraged, and always believe in your goal.
Boxing is all about not quitting; you dont give up a fight until your last breath. There is the thought of being hit, but after being hit you find its usually not as bad as you thought anyway.
These words of wisdom helped motivate the St Sampsons Secondary student in Bristol at the weekend as he was crowned the Western Counties junior champion in the 54kg category when his opponent pulled out in the second round.
He is now off to Liverpool to compete in the quarter-finals of the Golden Belt Junior ABA Championships.
Woolnough, who was hugged by the big man, admits that he does not remember too much of what Tyson said to him, as the occasion got a little too much for him.
He was sound and really cool, he was like a gentle giant, said Woolnough.
When he was speaking to me, he was speaking from the heart. He was looking at me, thinking about what he was saying.
I was looking at him and I couldnt believe it. I was really happy.
I just started crying.
Woolnough took up the sport four years ago when he was inspired to have a go after seeing old pictures of his grandfather box.
Away from school boxing is now his life as he trains three times a week and on his days off he is pounding the streets around his home in the Bouet.
Along with Tyson his other hero is Muhammad Ali. He says the walls of his room are covered with posters of the two legends.
The youngster said he had been in awe of Tyson, whose life has been dogged controversy after controversy, ever since he was young.


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