Wigan Warriors centre Oliver Gildart is a big fan of the local boxing scene – and he’s dreaming that one of the town’s rising stars can capture a world title one-day.
Over the last 12 months, the Wigan boxing scene has been growing from strength to strength.
Five upcoming boxers, who all hail from across the Wigan borough, have been starring on the VIP Boxing Promotions shows since the beginning of 2017.
Each boxer comfortably won their final bout of 2018 and extended their professional records further at the University of Bolton Stadium (December 8) and the Victoria Warehouse
(December 16) showpieces last month. Hindley’s James Moorcroft, Astley VIP’s Andrew Fleming, Kyle Lomotey, Adam Ridge, and Casey Connelly have all been flying the flag for the town over the last 12 months – and they’ve been doing themselves and Wigan justice.
No Wiganer is yet to taste defeat in their respective professional careers, and they’ve all impressed various onlookers with their exciting performances on the VIP Boxing circuit.
And one onlooker – Wigan Warriors star and three-cap England international Oliver Gildart– is a massive fan of the town’s local talent.
Gildart said: “I’m a massive boxing fan – obviously James and Adam are two lads that I follow closely. They are both two young lads like myself, doing well around Wigan, and I know
Adam is from the Leigh end, so every time I get the chance to watch them on a live stream or get down to a fight, I’ll be there.
“I’ve been very impressed - I’ve watched James a lot more closely, and he’s a great lad as well. It’s great to see another two lads from Wigan doing well at the elite level, I take my hat off to them both.
“I’ve watched the other lads on the shows that James was on, but I don’t know them on a personal level.
“I love boxing, and any chance there is a show on, I’ll be there watching it. I know a few of the rugby lads are mad into their boxing, so we’re always watching it.
“We briefly do boxing at Wigan for fitness on the pads – it’s nothing major – but I would always like to have a go at it.
“I’d love to do a charity match, it’s something I’d look forward to doing and I’ve seen a few of the rugby lads do that. I’d have to see if I’m any good first, but it’s something I’d definitely love
Gildart – who was raised in Hindley – admitted that he’d love to see a fellow Wiganer become a boxing world champion in the future.
And he believes it could quite possibly be one of the town’s current stars who steps up to the mantle.
He said: “It would be amazing – I know you get lads from Manchester like Tyson Fury, so why not?
“Why can that not happen? There’s some great talent in Wigan in all sports so there’s no doubt in my mind that someone is going to take that next step in the boxing world.
“I don’t see why one of the boxers coming through now can’t do it. Especially James and Adam as I follow them both on social media and I see how hard they train and how dedicated they are, so I hope they both go a long way in the sport.
“It’s down to them and how much they want to succeed, but I have no doubts that both lads will push as hard as they can to get as far as they can go.
“I think it would do wonders for the town and the next generation coming through. They’d have something to look up to then – obviously you have lads to look up to around the country – but it’s a bit more special if they are from Wigan.
“When I was coming through, I used to look up to the likes of Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin and that always gave me that drive to want to be like them one day so on a boxing side, if you get someone like James or Adam who are up there, or the other lads who are up there competing at that level, it’s going to bring support and more lads through.”
Moorcroft, Ridge and the other boxers are now in winter training and look set to next be in action in March.
And Gildart has urged the local community to support the town’s upcoming boxers as he believes the sport does not receive the plaudits that it deserves.
He added: “It’s kind of not been pushed as much as what I think boxing should. I think boxing is a lot tougher sport than rugby and probably doesn’t get the wraps on what it deserves.
“It takes a lot of hard work to get where them lads are, and I’d like to see if people from Wigan could push them more and support them.”