since 1850

Darren Sweeny

Darren Sweeny

Darren Sweeny

Darren was born in London, 1971 and moved to Birmingham at the age of four to live to with his Uncle, Aunt and Father.

Darren remembers that he had always wanted to box.  He recalls being around 7 or 8 and having a boxing match at Christmas with his brother using gloves he was given that year.  With his family looking on he lost this epic bout but went on to take up the sport fully around aged 14, busing it to his local gym under the guidance of some local friends.

He had his first amateur fight aged 15 on the 4th of March 1986,  against a gent from his own gym named ‘the bear’ who being bigger and hairier than Darren lost to the now naturalised Brummie.  He remembered the absolute exhaustion alongside the elation that came with winning his first competitive fight along with the crippling angst of his first loss.  The questions that suddenly present themselves after your first defeat leave you questioning your ability, talent, even your own sense in wanting to take this journey in the first place.  Nevertheless, as all lasting fighters do Darren placed his apprehensions to one side and continued to fight on.

After training harder and getting better in his first year he reached the British Final as an amateur in his first year after only 6 or 7 fights.  Following this he reached the British semis and Irish final, in his final year as an amateur reaching the ABA quarter finals, turning professional at 24.  After the sedated working clubs of amateur nights his first professional fight came with a different feeling of support, excitement and recognition as he took a commendable entourage of 250 local supporters.  Having only 19 Professional fights in such a short span Darren won the Midlands Area Title and the Irish National Title, his career dramatically cut short after failing a brain scan.  Although disappointed by the fates Darren persisted in his will, continuing to train in spite of his setback imagining a return perhaps one day into the ring.  It was only until a few years after his diagnosis that Darren eventually turned his eye from a return to working at Pat Benson’s Boxing Academy.

Darren has been with Pat and his coalition since the beginning of 2018, as well as training with Small Heath as an amateur.  He commented upon the comradery and companionship that comes with boxing in the local community and knowing the local fight scene in general.  The pubs and clubs around Birmingham that stuck out in his mind were the Grand Hotel and the Boundry club that Darren’s Dad ran and hosted at.  The working men’s clubs of Warley and Smethwick and the amateur shows which ran as often as two times a week are fond and fading memories now for Darren.  The actual physicality of making a real trip out to see real people in real places, he felt, had now been replaced by PPV nights in with lukewarm carling tins.   The effect that Sky and streaming have had upon the old world of a well attended, regular amateur roster have been felt by all those who knew it.

Pat Cowdell

Pat Cowdell

Photography and clippings

Photography and clippings