'Relentless' Henshaw hits the big time

Shaun Brown
28/09/2015 10:22am

There are those who are born to fight. Those who have no choice but to fight and then there are individuals who have the fight forced out of them for their own good. Unbeaten cruiserweight ‘Relentless’ Russell Henshaw (5-0, 2 KOs) falls into the final category.

The 31-year-old, originally from Nottingham, wasn’t a boxing fan when he was younger. Instead, he was a keen footballer but had you asked him to name four footballers he would have struggled. Being a fan of sports didn’t interest him, taking part and being competitive did - a streak that was drummed into him by his father.

The boxing bug was a necessary remedy for a schoolboy who had fallen victim to one of education’s nastiest problems - bullying. “I got bullied at school and I didn’t dare say anything or do anything,” Henshaw told Boxing Monthly.

“I was imploding, not exploding with anger and imploding with being terrified. I didn’t want to feel that anymore so I went to gyms and enjoyed it. I’m not very clever but I can scrap. I just carried it on. I’m pretty sporty to be fair.  I love competition. Cricket, football and then I found fighting; kickboxing and boxing and that was it. I got addicted.”

Henshaw, who works full-time as a bricklayer/builder and trains and fights in the time left over, is a man who can mix honesty with humour in one sentence. “I’d fight my brother, I’d fight my mother just to see how good I am. I’d take pleasure in kicking my mum’s head in!”

A concoction of dialogue that could only be funny having heard him say it. It’s part of Henshaw’s nature. He’s not being nasty – it’s how he gets his point across. And when he does you find yourself laughing with him. Think Goodfellas when Henry tells Tommy: ‘It’s funny… the way you tell the story’ but without the terrifying intimidation of Joe Pesci’s character.

If it is part of Henshaw’s likeable character then it also represents his maturity towards a boxing career that could’ve started 10 years ago.

“At that time I wasn’t taking it really seriously,” said Henshaw. “I was still drinking and smoking and pissing about and not training.

“I lost a bit of love for it and I thought, ‘C’mon, it’s now or never’. My old amateur coach used to say ‘No regrets’. I didn’t want to get to 35 and wonder what if, could I have, would I have. So I thought let’s do it and, at that moment in life, I was a bit more settled and grown up shall we say. If I’d done it a few years ago I’d have pissed myself up the wall and not took it seriously, probably lost to people I shouldn’t have lost to and just gave it up.”

The change of attitude has brought him under the careful eye of promoter Dave Coldwell. A round-the-clock mixed bag of great attributes that can see him have his promoter’s hat on one day and his trainer’s hat the next. Coldwell has a bundle of enthusiasm for Henshaw and told BM: “He’s one of my favourite kids I’ve worked with. Such a lovely fella. Hilarious how much he loves a punch-up yet he’s the loveliest kid you could meet!”

Henshaw admits that, while he listens to everything that he is taught and is happy with the progress that he’s made, when that bill goes ding-ding: “Sometimes you just want to have a fight. I ain’t going to stand there and move around. I’m going to steam roller and try and rip the face off with every single punch."

That fighting description could well win him new followers when he has his sixth outing (opponent TBA) in Sheffield on the undercard of Kell Brook’s IBF world welterweight title defence against Diego Chaves on 24 October. His first experience of boxing’s ‘big-time’ and one that put a dent in his bank balance when he found out he would be on as he explains.

“When Dave first told me, he said, ‘I can get you on that [show] but keep it quiet, don’t announce it’. I got another text saying it’s on and it was sorted. It was amazing. I was in a petrol station and, when I got out, I ran across to tell my missus ‘It’s on, it’s on, it’s on!’

“I was in a daze. I could see all the lights, see all the music and I ended up filling my van up with petrol! I was in a daze. I was buzzing and then I realised I filled my van up with petrol (not diesel). That cost me a bit of money to get fixed. I was standing round having to calm down a bit, but never mind.”

The day of the fight may see Henshaw set off to find some alone time. A pre-fight ingredient that helps take his mind off fight day and instead sees him participating in his favourite hobby – fishing.

“You wake up and there’s that fight day feeling and you feel everything,” he told BM. “Everything’s heightened so I’ll have a wander about. The calm before the storm.”

“I love it. Peace and tranquillity,” Henshaw said of his love of fishing.“I can sit there for a long time fishing. Be out in the water on the morning before a fight. I’ll have a walk and it’ll be silent, it’s strange. I’m quite a strange creature.”

A change of pace and deduction of tension that has led to one of his other favourite pastimes, playing video games, to be banned. Button tappers beware!

“I’m not a very good loser, to put it mildly,” explained Henshaw. “Computer games were always getting battered in the house. All computer games are banned. My brother is as bad as me. I don’t like cheating and one button tappers. If someone keeps jabbing me then that’s it.”

Anyone looking for tickets to Russell Henshaw's next fight on 24 October in Sheffield should contact 07828 446487.