'It’s never been easy': Kieran Gething interview
Photo: Tommy Dee
Welsh area super lightweight champion Kieran Gething talks to BM about the difficulties of being born with 'club foot', his ambitions for the future and why Welsh boxers deserve more attention...
To watch Kieran Gething box wouldn't have you thinking anything out of the ordinary: the talented Welshman makes things looks easy.
Except the Welsh Area champion at super lightweight was born with a condition called congenital talipes equinovarus, more commonly known as 'club foot'.
The journey to becoming a successful professional boxer has been a long one, far from easy, and the 25-year-old began by telling Boxing Monthly how he hopes to serve as a role model for young children with the condition.
“It’s never been easy," he said. "I think that’s a given, and even now if I move a little bit funny then it’s going to hurt a lot but you’ve got to remember there are people out there going through a lot worse.
"With it being something I’ve had since I was born you do get used to it and can develop ways to minimise the impact; one of my shoes has got a platform in it to even things out and that would feel weird at first but now it’s just second nature. I’ve got this fantastic opportunity, and it is fantastic, to make something out of my useless body - not just for me but potentially for those watching, as well.”
The latest fight for the Pontypool man came against Craig Woodruff as part of the stellar MTK Global show on 1 June that saw Jay Harris become European flyweight champion. The contest was Gething’s first defence of his Welsh Area super lightweight title and, despite winning, he was frustrated with the tight scorecard (97-95) and rough house tactics of his challenger.
“I am loving life [on the MTK shows] because of the production and the glamour of it all. It is the perfect time to be a Welsh boxer with so much attention being paid to the fighters coming through but I have been quite pessimistic about my performance if I’m honest.
"The more I look back on it I do realise that I boxed exactly to plan. It threw me because it felt scrappy in the ring because he was holding and grappling, trying to rough me up, and making it into a bit of a wrestling match.
"That annoyed me because I felt it did me a disservice and made me look bad - watching back I can see that, when I could, I was able to box to the plan. I didn’t get hit with one uppercut and that’s what we felt his biggest threat was.”
The annoyance was that he was unable to make himself look good against an opponent who, really, sought to spoil the style of Gething. Having won, however, the lifelong Liverpool fan is now able to set his eyes on European glory in the future - inspired by the way that his beloved Reds won the Champions League last season.
“I’ve been in the mix for these domestic titles for a fair bit (having been set for a British title eliminator before withdrawing due to injury) and I’d have liked another crack at that - or the Celtic title - but it doesn’t seem as though doors are opening for me.
"At the moment I’m hoping for a belt with one of the governing bodies, Inter-Continental or European, so that I can get myself a ranking. I don’t fancy getting tied up into eliminators, final eliminators for the British belt because Dave Allen did that [in July 2018] and he hasn’t heard a peep from the board since.
"I’d much rather keep ticking over going down a different route and, hopefully, a few performances down the line I’ll be back in the mix for a domestic title of some sort.”
Gething's desire to challenge himself against the very best on the continent does not, therefore, stem from an unwillingness to face domestic rivals, far from it. Instead he believes this route will force him way into a situation whereby domestic clashes are unavoidable.
Gething's eyes, truthfully, lie on Philip Bowes and the Commonwealth strap but he will jump at any challenge presented to him.
“The thing is I’m not bothered about what my record looks like, I’ve already taken a couple of losses, so I don’t have that extra pressure on my shoulders; I’m more than happy to go and fight in the away corner against one of their fighters.
"I’d love to say that I’ve fought on a Matchroom show in the next 12 months and then, who knows? If I do go and pull off an upset then they might start looking at me a bit more seriously. I’ll either keep winning until they can’t ignore me or I’ll have to go and upset one of their boys. It would be a dream to say I’ve signed with Matchroom one day.”
A fan friendly fighter who "loves [being] the centre of attention", Gething boxes with an easy-on-the-eye style; his fight against Tony Dixon won ‘Welsh Area fight of the year’ last year while his bouts with Henry Janes and Woodruff are both early contenders for this calendar year.
Gething's indomitable ‘have a go’ nature can be traced all the way back to his mother's fondness for a certain ‘Golden Boy’ of the 1990s.
“My mother has never been particularly into boxing, even though she was married to a professional boxer [Gary, who retired with a record of 6-2], but she always took a shine to Oscar [De La Hoya].
"She always liked the characters of boxing and absolutely loved the smile of De La Hoya and [the fact] he was great to watch, his style was lovely, so he’s been a big influence on me as well.
"If I can emulate even a tiny bit of what he managed and people enjoy watching my personality come through in a fight then that’s what I’d be happy with. I’m not saying I’ll be a Hall of Famer but that mixture of personality and ability is what I’m aiming for.”
Unfortunately it’s not always been as straightforward for Gething to get the ball rolling, in terms of finding a style, and whilst he confesses he’s not much like De La Hoya in the ring, he was candid about just how difficult it is over those early stages of amateur boxing.
“It’s weird [trying to ‘find your style’] because you’re not sure whether to copy someone you like or try and do things your own way. Obviously the guys that have heaps of amateur success are more switched on because they’ve developed a style that works in the amateurs: especially when we had the old scoring system [for punches landed as opposed to 10 point must].
"I didn’t really understand that until I turned about 20, 21 because I was still trying to get involved in a fight, if that makes sense, and, if I look back, I probably do wish I’d taken a couple extra years to really develop before turning professional.”
MTK Global have recently hopped on board to give Gething extra support as he looks to climb the rankings; an ambitious partnership that, he’s hoping, will open more doors for him. It also given him the opportunity for some on-the-job learning as to how the whole process of management works and the Abergavenny-born pugilist now possesses a clear plan for what comes after he hangs up the gloves.
“There are lots of options but, as you know, I’ve had my life planned out for ages and in the next part I’d like to be an agent or a manager. Boxing has been such a big part of my life, I know every fighter says that, and I’d say I’d like to be a coach but I’m not sure if I’d be any good!
"I’ve been clever, though, I’ve always been soaking up information when I’ve been in meetings [with managers] and seeing how certain people work; what to do but, more importantly, what not to do. I’m learning how to develop a fighter and not to put too much emphasis on the financial side of things from the get-go.
"If it means I invest some money, or a sponsor invests some money, in a boy to get him on a show then I’m happy to take that risk if I have enough belief in his ability.”
Despite his fervent desire to fight his way to the top, all of Gething’s title bouts thus far have been for the Welsh Area belt. That national pride will never cease to be special, he proudly declared, but he can’t help but ponder what could have been if he were a London boy.
“I’m not sure if perhaps we [Welsh fighters] get the appreciation we should do because of where we’re from and I understand that, to an extent, because we’re not at the centre of the boxing world.
"We don’t often have those big TV shows put on over here and people like Gary Lockett really don’t get enough credit, I feel, because they’re not based in London but then that’s up to us to make sure we can’t be looked past when it comes to titles and big fights.”