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Nick Towle

INTERVIEW WITH NICK TOWLE

BLOOD IS ONLY RED SWEAT

 Lived by Dave 'The Beast' Radford written by Nick Towle

Published December 2013
Blood is only Red Sweat

The blood-spattered world of Bare Knuckle Boxing is the ultimate test for the fist merchants of the modern era, and they come no more fearsome than the man they call The Beast. Mere mention of the name Dave Radford is enough to send shivers down the spines of even the most hardened Bare Knuckle warriors. The Yorkshire lion heart roared into the UK knuckle pit after a terrible accident down a shaft spelled the end of what promised to be a glittering professional career with the gloves. Not to be deterred, The Beast simply whipped the gloves off and unleashed his own brand of hell on the unforgiving world of knuckle boxing. Here, in his own words, the man who shot to the stars then crashed back down to earth tells it like it is in a brutally-candid account of his rollercoaster journey back to the Elysian Fields of the noble art… ‘ To the lions, blood is nectar ’ Mark Kram. 
 
 
Hi Nick thanks for taking the time to speak to us. 

Q/ At last you have finished the long awaited book about what would be considered a controversial subject especially by the gloved boxing community. If you could tell those that do not already know, who and what the book is all about.

A/ The book, Blood is Only Red Sweat, is Dave 'The Beast' Radford's autobiography - a warts 'n' all account of one man's journey from a highly-fancied pro gloved boxer to the unforgiving world of The Cage and the bare-knuckle world. I ghost-wrote the book but the story is just how Dave told it and we pull no punches!

In a nutshell, Dave was number 9 in the UK middleweight division in the late 1990s but then he had a terrible accident, breaking nearly all his bones. Dave's injuries were so bad he lost his professional licence and was facing a bleak future. But then the bare-knuckle fixers came calling, as well as The Cage and Mixed Martial Arts guys, and The Beast found himself a new niche which was just made for him.
 
Throughout the story we recount Dave's struggles with depression stemming from the death of his mother when he was 21, and his beloved nephew's suicide. A common theme running throughout the book is Dave's search for 'the medicine' to cure his ills and keep the dreaded Black Dog away.

James Raises His ArmThis 'medicine' comes in the form of no-holds-barred sessions down in the cellar with his mates 'Nasty Neil' Coleman and Mark 'The Bull' Oates, where they stage 'anything-goes' fights involving fists, elbows, knees and the dreaded 'Fish Hook'. James McCrory takes the title Dave needs to fight to keep the demons at bay, but, as he says, "the very thing that brings me out of the doldrums puts me right back in the hole - a big black one with no escape hatch".

The book recounts The Beast's bare-knuckle scuffles with the fearsome Leicester Bulldog, Danny Draper and the mighty James 'Gypsy Boy' McCrory in secret bars and farmers' fields covered in cow dung. It also gives an unflinching account of his many 'street' fights - he never lost a single one despite being involved in over 100 - and his Cage bouts with MMA top brass such as Norman Paraisy and Michael Bisping. The book ends with a tense and gripping account of Radford and McCrory's second tussle, when the Gypsy Boy defended his UK Shield title against the West Yorkshire man in a titanic, blood-spattered duel inside a heaving bar in Leicester. After all the trials and tribulations of his life inside and outside the ring, The Beast wanted to finish his career on a high - but would he be able to get the better of the powerful Geordie man who puts people away for fun?

Q/ Just to make sure I get plenty of plugs in if I'm not mistaken the book is now out too buy. How would anyone wanting to get their hands on a copy go about it. 

A/ The book is available to buy at £8.99 at  www.lulu.com   and on Amazon from January 14. Anyone wishing to order now on Lu Lu.com can use the following link to go directly to Blood is Only Red Sweat:  http://www.lulu.com/shop/nick-towle/blood-is-only-red-sweat/paperback/product-21315359.html 

Q/ Two years in the making. How did the book come about? Did you approach Dave or did he put a few lines in the free adds?

A/ Ha ha! No in fact I met Dave quite by accident. Two of his friends took over the running of my local pub in Doncaster and Dave came in with his partner one day.

James "The Gypsy Boy" McCroryI took one look at him and know he had a story in him. His friend, the pub landlord, had a picture behind the bar of Dave fighting Roberto Duran in his younger days. I looked at the picture of Dave fighting the 'Hands of Stone' in South Africa in his late 20s, then looked at the middle-aged Beast in the pub - and I knew he'd been in a scrap or two since then!

The thing is, he's still doing it!

I told The Beast's mate that I'd like to meet up with him to see if we could get a book project going, not knowing whether Dave would be just another ordinary fighter or whether he would have that special ingredient you need to make an autobiography.

On our first meeting it quickly became clear that this man had a story to tell - not just about his boxing career but his life in general, what with all the tragedies and quirks of fate that have shaped his life. I thought, 'how can a guy who once fought Roberto Duran be mixing it with the bare-knuckle terrors of the day, well into his 40s?'

The answer soon became clear: this was no ordinary fighter - he lived for the sport and money was of no concern to him. It's what kept him gong through the lean times: self-punishment to cure his ills.

We met up a second time and I knew we had a book in the making, and thereafter we would meet in either my local pub or his local in Hemsworth, Dave recounting his early childhood, teenage fights, scraps inside and out of the ring, and his turbulent personal life to me in fine detail - warts 'n' all. What was more, The Beast had even kept loads of the pictures from his childhood, his fights and family trips which we could use in the book. And we also had a whole host of brilliant pictures taken by freelance photographer Rob White of The Beast fighting Nigel Benn in his home town, and slugging it out with his mate Craig 'The Clobberer' Smith at his gym in Hemsworth.

Two of the shots inside the gym were just amazing: one of The Beast covered in blood after being whacked by the Clobberer's Claw Punch (this I used on the back cover), and another where we got Dave to throw a roundhouse hook towards Rob's camera, stopping short by just a couple of inches. This made for a brilliant, eye-catching front-cover picture, which looked even better once the design genius Jason Ferdinando had finished with it.

He added the shadow of a clawed beast behind Dave, along with a red background and made the letters of the title drip with blood. It worked out better than I could ever have hoped.Sunday Sport

Q/ We had the good fortune to interview Dave at B-BAD Promotions, which was also where we met you by coincidence. Some of the names Dave was coming out with very impressive I would think it was a case of what to leave out of the finished product rather than struggling to find subject matter. 

A/ Indeed it's true that Dave has met - and fought - some of the biggest names in the business, be that in the ring or the cage. Roberto Duran is the obvious example - Dave went the distance with him in an eight-rounder in South Africa in the late 90s.

Then there's the big Cage names such as Norman Paraisy, Ian Rush and Michael Bisping. In some of these bouts Dave literally jumped out of the crowd to fight at the last minute after their opponents didn't show - in fact he did that on his cage debut against Bisping.

In one cage fight, Dave recounts how one of the big cage guys smeared vaseline all his over body so he couldn't get a hold on him. Dave said it was like trying to wrestle with a "giant bar of wet soap".

He has also been in the ring with the great Nigel Benn recently, when the Beast met the Dark Destroyer in an exhibition match in front of thousands of his home fans. At first I thought we might be struggling for material but when Dave's fascinating life panned out before me I realised that this was more than just about boxing: it was about the trials and tribulations of an ordinary, working-class man who rises from tragedy and still manages to keep his dignity despite going to town with some of the most brutal men in the land. In amongst the tragic episodes are moments of hilarity and farce, like the time when Dave ran after a burglar with just a towel wrapped round his waist, only for the towel to unfurl and expose his wedding tackle right in front of his neighbours!

Q/ Being from a Journalistic back ground actually getting what you write in print rather than shall we say, the more imaginative version that makes the tabloids, must make a refreshing change. Just too clarify Nick wrote a piece for a large newspaper about The B-BAD Promotions Show we attended and we were in contact making sure that all the details were correct and was sent back and forth until things were factually spot on. When the newspaper came out I actually thought I must have been at the wrong show. I didn't know what too expect myself but I could not have been any more wrong if I tried. If I had read that newspaper article first I would never have gone within a mile of the show. It must frustrate the hell out of you where your copy is changed where as the book is more "your work" as it is supposed to be?
 
A/ Yes that's absolutely right. I too was surprised by the tone and nature of the article - but, to be honest, it didn't surprise me one bit. Having worked for newspapers for the past 14 years, I am fully aware that the number-one priority is to sell papers, and that sometimes means sensationalising the subject at hand. Some may call it bending the truth, others that it is merely journalistic licence.

Call it what you will, I think the article in the red-top tabloid wasn't a bad one - inaccuracies aside - and at least it gave some much-needed exposure to BKB, which, let's face it, hasn't had much in the way of positive publicity in the nationals.

Dave and James
 
So, not withstanding the aforementioned tabloid's attempts at turning the BKB show into something akin to 'Fight Club' - which it most clearly is not - I say fair play to them for actually having the balls to run the story and not shy away from it as the press has done for so long. That said, yes it was nice to give the unexpurgated truth about the bare-knuckle scene and how it really is. I hope that the book debunks some of the myths about BKB and its protagonists: if that was all that the book achieved then that would be an end in itself. ( In all fairness its going to be a bit of a double edge sword with the newspapers. But.... their reach is wide and having to pay for that kind of exposure would have been expensive.  Jon P )

I think it's time we brought this ancient sport back into the open, as it used to be, and allow the wider public to have the pleasure of watching warriors such as the Beast and James 'Gypsy boy' McCory - two highly-skilled exponents of their art - to show that BKB is not about bar-room bullies and mindless violence, but boxing in its purest form.

Q/ Back in July the guys over at ATG Radio interviewed Bobby Gunn and asked what he thought about BKB in Europe. He watches all the B-BAD fights so word is getting around. Andy and Clare from B-BAD are soldiering on with regular shows and what with 'Knuckle' James Quinn's film and various books including yours which is now available to buy, shameless plug for you there, have you and Dave spoken about the possibility of BKB ever becoming, for want of a better phrase, 'Main Stream'. 

Andy TopliffeA/ We most certainly have and Dave is all for it. In the book, he says he longs for the day when he will be able to fight in front of his mates in one of his local pubs at a properly-licensed BKB event, open to everyone.

But of course there's always going to be that stigma attached to BKB because, unlike, say, me and you guys at Cage Amateurs, the people who put it down have never actually been to a bare-knuckle show. I read with interest Daniel Towers' account of his maiden BKB show on the Cage Amateurs website. Dan said he was expecting one of those "windmill fests" that you see on Youtube, where gipsy fighters slug it out on lanes and cow fields to settle family feuds, where the fights seem to be over in the blink of an eye.

He said he was pleasantly surprised by what he saw at B-Bad 2 - an organised set of fights with a straw ring, central heating and hot, running water (and no cow dung in sight!). Dave - like you guys, me, Andy Topliffe and the B-Bad Boys - thinks it's high time that bare-knuckle should be brought out of its underground habitat and brought out into the open where it can be returned to its Victorian and Georgian heyday, when bare-knuckle fighters were revered in society rather than loathed; gentlemen of honour who would fight until the cows came home - literally in some cases!

 
James QuinnQ/ So has the two years made you think it's time to change career and jump in the ring? 

A/ Erm, not quite. After seeing The Beast and his pal The Clobberer going at it, I think I will stick to the safety of the ring apron thank you very much! I've always been a boxing fan and I've played other sports to a high level myself, but the bravery and fearlessness of people like Dave and McCrory - indeed anyone who steps into the ring - is almost incomprehensible to me. As Dave says, you need the heart of a lion to step into the ring. I'm a mouse armed only with a notepad! That said, I did did once step into the ring with top Manchester fighter John Murray, one of the best lightweights in the business at the time.

This was in 2006, when I was working for MEN Media in South Manchester, and my editor told me he wanted me to do three rounds with the Murray Monster and write a little article on it in the run-up to his big fight on the Oscar De la Hoya/Golden Boy Productions card in Las Vegas.

Murray was actually a lot smaller than me but when I stepped into the ring with him at his gym in Moss Side, it was like a tiger fighting a field mouse. He was just pawing me at first but then I tried a few shimmies and the old 'Towlie Shuffle' to try to impress him - BAD MOVE. He tore into me and started giving me a severe beating. I ended up with a cut lip and a bruised ego - it was the longest 10 minutes of my life!

Dave RadfordQ/ So what is next for you?

A/ My immediate next step is going down the pub for a pint, but after that we're having Dave's book signing at the Postcard pub in Holmfirth - 'Last of the Summer Wine' country. There should be over 100 people there and we're all really looking forward to it.

It's on Saturday, December 14, between 1pm and 6pm.

There will be plenty of drinks, grub and glamour girls! As far as my nascent literary career is concerned, that'll be put on hold for a while. I didn't realise just how much work goes into producing a book and getting it published. When you take into account all the many interview sessions, the draft versions, picture sequencing, editing, checking for any legal problems, the design process etc etc, it is a hell of a task. Writing fiction would be easier but you have to have a really fertile imagination for that. Besides, portraying real salt-of-the-earth characters - real human beings with flaws as well as virtues - is what really interests me.

 Make-believe is for fairyland!

So there you have it people it's going to be a decent book and what with christmas coming up and all that. Thanks again Nick and in case you have forgotten you can buy a copy at a very reasonable price from   www.lulu.com 

It's £8.99 for 204 pages which is a reasonable 4.4 pence a page or 1.25 pence for each of the days it took to complete.

For more information on B-BAD Promotions and BKB you can catch up with the guys on
Facebook or by dropping in on us at our website www.cageamateursuk.com

check out the interview we did with Dave at B-BAD 2 Dave Radford Video Interview


 
 
 

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