OWEN COOPER started boxing to improve at football and impress his journeyman fighter Dad – now he has ambitions to fight at open air stadiums.
The Worcester Super-Lightweight prospect impressed on his Frank Warren debut last week knocking out Daryl Pearce inside a round.
Cooper, 20, who signed a promotional contract with Queensberry earlier this year, admitted he would have been lost to football had he not wanted to shed a few pounds as a boy.
He said: “From the age of eight to 12, I was a footballer and decent. I got scouted for Aston Villa, Bristol Rovers, Cheltenham Town and Walsall.
“I was quite a chubby kid so I went to the gym to lose a bit of weight and make myself more agile. I also wanted to impress my Dad all the time when I was a kid and boxing would do that.
“As soon as I started in the gym, I fell in love with boxing. I started going every day and said to my Mum: ‘I don’t want to play football anymore. I want to be a boxer.’ She didn’t like that.
“I was with Walsall for about a year and spent time at Cheltenham, but didn’t take the opportunities to go to Aston Villa or Bristol Rovers.
“Those chances came at the back end of playing football, but I wasn’t interested anymore.”
Owen’s Dad, Steve had 35 fights as a professional and retired in March 2009. The Father and Son team now run a painting and decorating business.
Owen who is managed by Errol Johnson of Black Country Boxing says: “I know this might sound silly, but my Dad is my boxing hero. He was a good amateur, but a journeyman on the professional scene.
“My Dad was happy on the road and I want the World as a boxer.
“Even when I was a footballer I would sit down with him and we would watch his fights, but he would never let me go because he was always losing.”
Cooper’s (4-0, 1 KO) first fight for his new promoter was a whirlwind. The fight was made at short notice, but the powerhouse performance that made people take notice was tinged with sadness
He explained: “When the MC was reading out the decision I was tapping on my chest because it was so close to the first anniversary of my best friend, Marlon Vella passing away.
“The anniversary was a few days after the fight and that was all that went running through my head. Inside I was all over the place.
“Before the fight I tried not to think about it too much and let my emotions get ahead, but afterwards I felt like breaking down.
“I couldn’t have ever imagined my first fight for Queensberry going so well in the ring. I knew Pearce was tough and thought it would be a nice shutout points decision, but I went a step ahead.
“I couldn’t believe it during one of the interviews. Frank Warren came up to me and said; ‘well done, what a shot.’
“I have known about Frank and his success as a promoter since I was a young kid. To have a chat with him was unbelievable.”
Worcester might be famous for a rugby union team, a picturesque cricket ground and sauce, but Cooper wants to bring some fighting spice to the city.
He added: “We haven’t had many boxers from Worcester. Paul Busby was the last one who had some big fights and won titles.
“I am trying to make a name for Worcester. There is Worcester Warriors rugby ground and I’m not that big yet, but in the future the dream is to fight there.
“I have ambitions and you have to dream of these things. Don’t get me wrong I’d love a British title, but if I can get further then that is what I am heading for.”