Boxer Joe Hughes from Warmley is this week back home celebrating with his young family after winning his biggest ever title – European Super-Lightweight Champion.
What makes 28-year-old Joe’s achievement so remarkable is that he boxes with one arm as since birth he has had a form of paralysis in his right arm.
The EBU (European Boxing Union) fight last Friday was the father-of-two’s first outside of the UK. He took on Andrea Scarpa at the Teatro Obihall in Florence in the match that was screened live on Sky. He had previously tried but failed to win the title against Swede Anthony Yigit In Leicester last year.
Joe has Erb’s Palsy, a paralysis caused by injury to the upper group of the arm’s main nerves during birth. Whereas he has 100% use of his left arm, Joe has between 30% and 40% use of his right arm which is three inches shorter than the other.
Joe’s parents were told that his condition meant he would not be able to do anything physical but to improve the strength in his arm his dad took him to martials arts and boxing when he was young and Joe says his disability has helped him develop his fight-winning jab.
He fights at Paddy John’s Gym which is above Kingswood Heritage Museum in Warmley. It is run by his trainer and father-in-law Andy O’Kane. The club trains both amateurs and professionals and is attended by as many as 60 children each week.
Joe’s wife Amy is the grand-daughter of Bill Douglas, who is the great-grandson of the founders of the world-famous Douglas bikes built in Kingswood in the fist half of the 20th century. In an interesting twist, Paddy John’s Gym used to be based in Forest Road on the site of the former bike factory until it was demolished to make way for housing – and the gym is now above the museum which houses a fine selection of Douglas bikes.
Joe, who has several sponsors including CFS Bristol in Warmley and Hanham firm S&J Roofing, flew home at the weekend and his now back at home in Warmley and tells us he is looking forward to a family Christmas with Amy, two-year-old Alby and baby Jonah, who is just a month old, before seeing what 2019 brings, potentially a shot at a world title.