Rowan was born in Birmingham in 1968 and after a short Caribbean hiatus has lived in Birmingham from the age of 16.
Rowan grew up an avid martial arts competitor and followed his brother into boxing, who fought at Small Heath boxing club. He was around 18 years old when he first put on the gloves, his first fight against a seasoned 30/40 fights opponent. Rowan performed admirably in a hard fight eventually coming out on top. Unaware of his opponents record, his trainer Pat Benson had purposefully kept the 30/40 fights experience under wraps. Rowan adopted Pat Benson’s ‘Train hard fight easy’ style and took to boxing like a fish to water.
Looking to build upon a successful debut Rowan went another 11 fights without a loss, eventually falling to future European Champion Johnny Armour in the Midlands ABAs.
Rowan had an unsuccessful run in the world championships but notes his greatest success as qualifying for the Barcelona 1992 Olympics. Rowan reached the quarter finals of the games, missing out on a medal by one place. Rowan’s pride in representing team GB and becoming an Olympian remains with him to this day, he still recalls calling his then trainer at the time Jordan Trevor feeling ‘absolutely ecstatic’. It was a tremendous success in qualifying alone, Rowan being one if not the first from Small Heath to become an Olympian and after having only 40 amateur fights his success in the sport came thick and fast.
Rowan fought at flyweight however his camp wanted him going to the games at 7st 7lb. Paul Ingle
Rowan’s success came in a games where for the first time England Boxing made fighters qualify for their spot on the Olympic team instead of hand picking them. Fighting off stiff competition Rowan also had to drop down in weight as Paul Ingle had already qualified at flyweight. His ability to adjust to a change in circumstances speaks to Rowan’s natural gifts as an all round sportsmen. Going up and down in weight divisions is a huge ask for most fighters, often leaving them feeling either underpowered and or sluggish.
As an amateur Rowan won the Midlands Area belt and reached the ABA Quarter finals however he found it difficult to keep himself so low in weight. Regularly having to drop from 8st 4lbs to 7st 7lb Rowan found himself constantly cutting, thinking of his weight, watching his intake and having to shed half a stone on demand. ‘It kind of took the joy out of boxing’ Rowan commented, obsessively watching every calorie consumed and every movement on the scale. Despite his misgivings about weight demands it speaks volumes to Rowan’s professionalism and determination in the game. As previously mentioned changing weights is risky business in boxing, even moving from lightwelter to welter can expose the most seasoned pros - ask Ricky Hatton. In his professional career Rowan sought to address the issue and moved up from 7st 7lbs finding his place at a more natural 8st 4lbs.
As a professional under Frank Maloney and Norman ‘Nobby Nobs’ Rowan acquired the ‘journey man’ status on the national fight scene. Changing from amateur to professional came with a change in circumstances and a shift in purpose which did not go unnoticed in Rowan. Suddenly fighting for money instead of solely for glory attitudes that boxers adopt within the professional world are ruthless and without any misgivings.
Not a startling professional career it was his unflinching love of both the sport and his children that sustained Rowan in taking the blows and dishing them back out.