Oakey: Ballingall is flying the flag for Portsmouth

Michael Ballingall
Michael Ballingall
Danny Couzens beats Ossie Jervier. Picture: Natalie Mayhew, Butterfly Boxing

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Tony Oakey paid tribute to trainer Michael Ballingall for flying the flag for Portsmouth boxing.

The next generation of professional boxers from the area step into the ring tonight at South Parade Pier.

Oakey is renowned as Portsmouth’s favourite fighting son after a long and prosperous career at the top level.

He believes Ballingall deserves credit for opening a gym in the city and offering a facility for emerging talent.

And the Leigh Park Warrior reckons the trainer’s efforts warrant him finding the next Tony Oakey.

He said: ‘Michael has done a fantastic job.

‘He is doing everything he can to keep Portsmouth on the boxing map in the professional game.

‘He has made the effort to open a gym in the city and offer somewhere for boxers to base themselves.

‘That’s something I never had when I boxed.

‘It’s an old fashioned gym with good facilities.

‘It’s a work house and that’s good for amateur or professional boxers.

‘Maybe the boxers may not appreciate what it means to have that on your door step.

‘Not only that but he puts all the effort in for training and taking the boxers away for sparring.

‘He’s putting all his time and effort in for no pay.

‘Michael’s helping to put shows on in Portsmouth and is looking for the next Tony Oakey. I hope he is able to do that.’

Oakey hung up his gloves two years ago, bringing the curtain down on a long and distinguished career which saw him scale the heights as an amateur and professional.

The 36-year-old delivered memorable nights on the way to Commonwealth, British, WBU and Prizefighter success, along with collecting ABA and international honours.

He looked on as old pal Ricky Hatton officially announced his comeback yesterday.

Oakey is adamant he will not be following suit.

He said: ‘A comeback? You must be joking!

‘I’ve got enough on my plate at the moment with my five-month-old twins and family to think about coming out of retirement!’