An audience of millions for the bareknuckle boxing debut of a 35 year-old Peterborough man

The gloves are off for Martin Reffell after the women in his life gave him the green light to take up the country’s fastest-growing sport.

By Matthew Bozeat
Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 8:34 am
Martin Reffell (left) and Callan Harley

Bareknuckle boxing has grown rapidly over the last five years and there will be 3,000 fans at London’s O2 Arena and millions more tuning in around the world when the 35 year-old from Orton Goldhay makes his debut on Saturday, January 22. Over 30 countries are taking the pay per view pictures live.

The show also features Callan Harley in his rematch with Mark Handley and Reffell says it was watching his fellow Peterborough fighter in action that convinced him to ditch his gloves after a brief professional boxing career.

Reffell said: “I had a gloved fight, but it wasn’t enough.I went to watch Callan and wanted the same buzz he got from fighting bareknuckle.

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“I know it’s a hard sport, but I know what I’ve got inside me and my family are backing me.

“I’ve got three girls aged between eight and 16 and my missus has two girls - so I’m the only man in the house and they do worry about me.

“I love all my girls to bits and they have decided: ‘If daddy really wants to do this, we will support him.’ My eldest (Rhileigh) is coming with me. I warned her there could be lumps and bumps and blood, but she would rather be there and see it for herself. My 12 year old (Faith) will be watching on pay-per-view, but my eight-year-old (Pyper) won’t watch it until she knows I’m okay and neither will Summer (10) or Casey (8).”

Reffell, who thanked partner Sadie for her understanding, spelled out why he believes he can make an impact in bareknuckle boxing.

He said: “This is an old man’s game. People think boxing is a young man’s game, but this is an old man’s game. Look at all the top fighters. They are all in their thirties, like me.

“I haven’t come into this to beat up kids. I’ve come into this to become a contender and prove to my girls that no matter how hard it is, if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can get there.”

Reffell faces a new opponent after a pull out and added: “Even if I lose, I’m still going to push myself and keep on fighting.

“I don’t know how I will react when I get hit, but I want to prove I’ve got what it takes to be a contender in bareknuckle boxing.”

Harley, a father of four from Paston, drew with Shrewsbury’s Mark Handley before Christmas after a thrilling contest.

They will go at it again a week on Saturday.