Boxing: “Big” Ben brings glory to the town

Date published: 17 February 2024

Hamer amateur boxer, “Big” Ben Braddock brought glory back to the historic Rochdale boxing club, Hamer ABC, when he competed in the National Youth Cadet 80-86KG Championships in Rotherham, Yorkshire on Sunday 11 February.

Ben stepped into the blue corner of ring B to meet Leo Skinner of Mackenzies Boxing Academy in Bournemouth, Dorset. When the bell rang to start the first round, the Hamer boxer came out to land his jab, only to receive a right-hand punch to the chin. But the Hamer boxer showed true grit when he continued to step forward whilst throwing punches at his opponent. Then he suddenly landed a terrific left-handed punch to the chin, which had Skinner staggering back onto the ropes. Yet the referee allowed the action to continue without administrating a standing eight count to his opponent.

Fair play to Skinner, who instantly came back into the action to land a right hand to the head and body of his on-coming opponent. Ben continued to move forward with his punches, whilst Skinner was content in putting his weight upon his back foot and wait for his Hamer opponent to come into range, but every time he did, it was the Rochdale boxer who landed his solid left hand to the chin, which clearly hurt the Dorset boxer.

With the round in full flow, it was the power of Ben’s backhand punch that was showing a great impression upon the fans in attendance and the judges at ringside. Then Skinner began to acknowledge his supporters when he began to attack his opponent and he caught Ben with a terrific right hand to the chin, which momentarily forced the Hamer boxer onto his back foot. This instantly prompted Skinner to move forward once again, only for his Hamer opponent to bite down hard upon his mouth guard to land two more terrific left handed punches to the chin of his on-coming Dorset opponent before the bell rang to end the round.

Once in his corner, the Hamer boxer was told by his coach Steven Connellan to follow the original game plan and step in with his double jab, followed by a left-handed punch from his southpaw stance. Then move in and land his hooks to both the body and head.

The bell rang for round two and Ben instantly stepped in to land another powerful left-hand punch to the jaw, which instantly forced Skinner onto his back foot. Ben continued to step forward, whilst Skinner stepped back and waited for his Hamer opponent to come into range, so that he could land his right hand, which he occasionally did, but Ben always had an answer for him with his own very powerful left-handed punch. As the round progressed, Skinner continued to wait for Ben to come into distance, but when he did, the Hamer boxer used clever tactics to move his head out of range, before instantly coming back with his solid left-hand punch to the chin.

Skinner was slowly beginning to tire and the referee had to step in twice to inform him to keep his head up. The Dorset boxer, responded to his warning from the referee and quickly tried to take the fight back to his Hamer opponent, only to receive a swinging right hook to the side of his head. The punches from the Hamer boxer were slowly beginning to take effect upon the Dorset boxer.

When the bell rang to end the round, the Hamer coach told his boxer that he was winning the contest, but not to slow down with his punches, especially his straight left hand to the jaw, which was clearly hurting Skinner every time he connected with it. “You're one round away from being the national champion, so bite down hard on your gum-shield and continue to take the fight to your opponent,” coach Connellan told his boxer.

The bell rang for the third and last round and the Hamer boxer began to follow his coach’s instructions to a tee, when he instantly stormed forward once again to land a three-punch combination, only for Skinner to grab hold of him when he stepped in close, which brought a warning from the referee. Ben continued to land his sturdy left-hand punch to the face, which clearly hurt his opponent, who tried to knuckle down and fight back, but received even more punishing blows to the head.

As the round proceeded, Skinner suddenly landed another solid right-hand punch to the jaw of his opponent, only to receive a five-punch combination to both the body and head from the Hamer boxer. By this time both boxers were showing signs of tiredness, which began to slow the action down, and the referee gave Skinner another warning for putting his head down when Ben approached him with his clubbing blows.

Then, just before the bell rang to end the contest, Ben landed three more left-handed punches to the face.

Everyone within the crowd waited in anticipation for the judges to pick the winner, and when the referee raised Ben’s arm up into the air to gain victory by a unanimous decision to become National Youth Cadet Champion 2024, the noise within the whole room suddenly became ecstatic with cheering and applause.

Coaches Steven Connellan and Alan Bacon said: “This is an incredible performance for Ben Braddock, especially considering that he has had long layoff from the sport of boxing. What he has done to come back and become number one in England in his weight category has made this club and town very proud."

Do you have a story for us?

Let us know by emailing
All contact will be treated in confidence.

To contact the Rochdale Online news desk, email or visit our news submission page.

To get the latest news on your desktop or mobile, follow Rochdale Online on Twitter and Facebook.

While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Rochdale Online and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Rochdale Online offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer (event listings and free community websites for example), please consider supporting us financially and help Rochdale Online to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Rochdale Online