Inverness City coach is still boxing clever after 62 years in sport
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AFTER being involved in boxing for over 60 years, Laurie Redfern knows what it takes to create a champion.
The Inverness City Boxing Club founder and head coach has, after all, made 88 of them.
From Shetland to Inverness, he has guided athletes to regional titles, gold medals at international competitions and become national champions at amateur level.
At 72, he still has plenty of fight left in him, saying there is still one thing he wants to achieve with his fighters as a coach.
“I want a professional champion,” he said.
“I have loads of amateur champions, but to help one of my fighters become a professional champion would be the finale for me.
“To coach a professional champion would be the big one.
“I won’t stop, life has been a challenge and I still see it as a challenge.”
Born in Birkenhead in Merseyside, Redfern first started boxing at an after school class aged 10.
Seen as a promising youngster, he had an impressive professional career at flyweight and featherweight, making his debut in 1967 at the Anglo American Sporting Club in Manchester. Several years later, he went on to join the Royal Marines Reserves where he earned his green beret.
But towards the end of the 1970s, his coaching career was to start to shine in the unlikeliest of places – the middle of the north sea.
He said: “I got a job in Shetland working at the Sullom Voe oil and gas terminal and stayed on a camp they built for around
“There was a gymnasium, which they were looking for someone to run.
“As I was in the marines, I was put forward for the job. It was good money so I decided to go. On the camp there were some ex-boxers who wanted to come in and punch bags. I spoke to BP and they allowed me to create a boxing gym.”
Sullom Voe Amateur Boxing Club was born and under Redfern’s guidance, it wasn’t long before they landed a massive blow on the amateur boxing scene.
He took 10 fighters from Shetland to the Scottish Boxing Championships where eight athletes won titles on the club’s debut.
Redfern’s talent was noticed and he was hired by Boxing Scotland to help coach boxers compete across the world.
“Due to our success at the Scottish championships, people couldn’t believe we came from Shetland,” he said.
“Everybody was like where have these guys come from?
“Not long after, I was asked by Boxing Scotland to be northern district coach, but I went all around the world with the Scottish squad.
“I went to Australia, Canada and all over Europe. I have a lot to thank Scottish boxing for.”
Redfern left Shetland and moved to Inverness where he went on to establish Inverness City Boxing Club in 1996 at the Cameron Youth Centre in Planefield Road.
The club then relocated to Merkinch Welfare Hall in 2017.
When he first arrived in Inverness, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue in boxing, but his love of coaching was the driving force to starting up the club.
“When I arrived in Inverness, I checked the history of boxing in the city and found out the last boxing club shut down 12 years previously,” he said.
“But I heard there was a place where boxers trained in Culloden. I jumped in and took them on in sparring.
“It went really well and from there I started up Inverness City Boxing Club at the Cameron Youth Centre.
“I hired coaches who were ex-boxers. Nothing can beat an ex-boxer to train new fighters. I wanted to create a boxing club like those in Glasgow and Liverpool, and Idid that.”
Redfern went on to train several champions at Inverness City Boxing Club at amateur level.
One of his most successful fighters was Andrew Young, who won bronze for Scotland at the 2002 Common-wealth Games in Manchester.
He is also passionate about giving young kids the chance to learn the sport saying if they are to become successful they must start learning as early as possible.
“You have to have them learning as kids, I have had seniors who turned professional, but they didn’t start boxing until 20 or 21.
“If you start them young, and they stay the course, it gives them the best chance.”
He says coaching is not just about making champions, it is also about making better people.
“If you take them off the streets and teach them something else then as they grow up, they become a better person, then I’ve done my job,” he said.
Out of all his achievements to date, he says his proudest moment in boxing is his daughter Lorna becoming a national Amateur Boxing Association champion.
“When she was younger, Lorna got fed up of me going to the gym so often so she came to the gym with me,” said Redfern.
“She is my pride and joy, and seeing her become a boxing champion is the number one moment of my career.”