Retired Blackpool boxer RP Davies grappling with a whole new career

RP Davies, pictured with father/trainer Mark, is getting to grips with the world of professional wrestling
RP Davies, pictured with father/trainer Mark, is getting to grips with the world of professional wrestling

Former Blackpool boxer RP (Ryan) Davies might have hung up his gloves two years ago but that’s not stopped him embarking on a new career...which also involves fighting in a ring.

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The 31-year-old appeared to be on the cusp of hitting boxing’s big time before his shock retirement 18 months ago.

Davies, who won 12 of his 13 professional fights, was forced to call it a day after a scan revealed a tear on his brain.

That came on the eve of a fight against George Rhodes in his home town, which was to be an eliminator for the English middleweight title.

Had he won that bout, Davies believes he could have gone on to win the belt and fight for the British title.

Davies admits he struggled to come to terms with his career ending prematurely but he insists he doesn’t look back with anger.

He told The Gazette: “I could have carried on and many fighters do, but I weighed up the options and if I kept pulling on the tear it would get larger. That’s what was playing on my mind.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit bitter. Luckily it came at a time when I was really happy because my daughter was born. That was the best day of my life.

“That blocked a lot of it for me. I didn’t have time to take it all in because I was so busy. Everything I had worked for was all over.

“That’s probably why I put on a bit of weight. With everything I had sacrificed for boxing, I thought, ‘If I want to have a beer tonight, a burger or a tub of ice cream, I will’.

“But time is a great healer and now I can look back with a lot of pride because we did well. We got into the top 20 in the country and were genuinely on the cusp of something.

“The fight I had to pull out of was an English title eliminator and they had an English title fight lined up for after that in Blackpool.

“That’s why it was frustrating. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a realist, so I know I could have lost that fight but I was on the precipice and something was going to happen or it wasn’t at that point.

“If I had won the English title, then you’re looking at British titles and TV, and everything would have started to roll in.”

Since calling it a day, he has worked tirelessly at the gym he runs on Mitcham Road with his father and former trainer Mark.

But in the last few months Davies has been focusing on something entirely different: pro wrestling.

Out of the blue, Davies received a call from a friend, Johnnie Brannigan, who runs Grand Pro Wrestling, asking if he would be willing to give it a go.

Despite being a fan of WWE, Davies was sceptical but soon changed his mind and decided to dip his toe in the water.

He expects to have his first match soon and said: “I don’t think it’s been done before. I can’t think of any ex-fighters who have ever gone into wrestling. I know Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather did one-night things, so mine might not be quite as big as that. We’re in Hindley (near Wigan) rather than New York!

“But it’s a good thing for me and a fun thing. I’m going to try to get as much out of it as I can. It’s a transition into something different.

“Since this happened British wrestling has just exploded and it’s frightening. Within weeks of getting the phonecall, WWE are opening a performance centre in London and there’s the NXT in Blackpool on a UK tour.

“I don’t think wrestling has ever been as popular in Britain, so I just thought it could be something big.

“I’m not saying anything massive will come of it but I just know that if I was fighting this would never have happened.

“I just see the wrestling as a continuation of my boxing. Had I never boxed, there’s no way in a million years any promoter would ring me up and ask me to do some wrestling.

“The only reason I’ve got the chance is because of my boxing career. I’m just starting to think it was meant to be and maybe all that bad stuff happened purely to set this up.”