Karl Wheeler reckons he’s got the right man guiding his boxing career.
The Peterborough cruiserweight this week signed a three-year manager’s contract with Stephen Whitwell.
They train together in St Ives and Wheeler describes his new manager as “a good trainer and a good man.”
The 32 year-old added: “He doesn’t want to get a stable of fighters he can chuck in with anyone to make a few quid. He wants fighters who want to work hard in the gym and achieve things.”
Wheeler, who will spend his 33rd birthday in Norwich on Saturday night cheering on stablemate Matty Parr on his professional debut, says proof that Whitwell’s coaching methods work is his daughter’s success.
Shona Whitwell last week reached the quarter-finals of the world female youth and junior championships in Taiwan.
“Technically, Shona is really good,” said Wheeler, “and so is her sister, Harli. She can really punch. I’ve never known a girl who can punch so hard! That shows Steve knows what he’s doing.”
Whitwell describes Wheeler as “a young 32 year-old. He hasn’t got many miles on the clock and looking at what’s out there in the cruiserweight division, he has a chance of achieving things.”
Wheeler has also added an ex-professional fighter from Peterborough to his team.
A decade ago, Jaz Virdee and Wheeler were stablemates in Ian Pauly’s gym.
Virdee was a big ticket seller on dinner shows in the city during his nine-fight career and now he’s back in the gym after being awarded his trainer’s licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.
That means he can be in the corner when Wheeler fights and the boxer says that’s “great news.”
He added: “Jaz has been with me from day one. He is one of my best friends. He’s been training with me every day and giving me lifts to and from the gym.”
Wheeler can now drive himself to either Raw 32 on Tresham Road or Whitwell’s gym in St Ives after new sponsors Global Self Drive gave him a car.
Wheeler, also sponsored by Maximum Nutrition, Bore Hole Solutions, Apex and Barkingheads, thanked them for their backing and says he hopes to be back in the ring in “September or October” following surgery on a cruciate knee injury that’s kept him out of the ring this year.
For Wheeler, the knee injury was the latest setback in a professional career that started way back in May, 2003 with a points win over Martin Thompson in Ellesmere Port.
Wheeler revealed that along with wrist and knee injuries, he’s suffered the heartbreak of having a still born child and days before another fight, sister Milisa underwent life-saving surgery after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
Wheeler went ahead with the fight - and won.
He said: “I think a lot of people would have quit if they had been through what I have been through.
“I’ve kept fighting through when there have been bad things going on in my life.
“The bad times have made me stronger and given me that extra determination.
“I could have given up, but I haven’t. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I know I will get there one day.”