“My ambition was to be remembered. To be remembered as a loser? No. To be remembered for making an impression, to do things that nobody said I could do.”
This quote comes from boxer Robin Deakin, who previously had the title of “Britain’s Worst Boxer.” Deakin found popularity and began garnering international attention after his professional career was marked by a string of 51 defeats in a row.
However, that remarkable losing streak does not fully convey the narrative of a tenacious fighter who defied all difficulties to enter the professional ranks of the sport.
Deakin was born with talipes equinovarus, more commonly known as club foot. He had more than 40 procedures as a child and was unable to walk without assistance until the age of six. Deakin began boxing as a youngster in an attempt to increase his mobility.
Deakin told SPORTbible,
“I was taken down the gym at just over six years old. I used to be in my wheelchair, jabbing and stuff, and the trainers said things like ‘He could be quite good him, if he could walk’. I kept having surgery on my legs, I got a bit a stronger and began to take physio up.”
“Eventually I started walking, taking little steps. I used to just go to boxing to try and strengthen my legs. I found that it helped, with my confidence as well. I just started getting stronger and stronger. It helped a lot.”
“It gave me confidence to be myself. Rather than being a shy kid that used to get bullied. It was nice to be myself and have the confidence to do that.”
Deakin’s health gradually got better as he aged, allowing him to compete in amateur events. He won a silver medal at the Limassol Cup in Cyprus and advanced to the light welterweight semifinals of the ABA Championships.
Deakin eventually made his professional debut in 2006 after a 76 bout long amateur career. He defeated Shaun Walton at London’s York Hall. However, Deakin’s loss against Eduards Krauklis in a hurriedly scheduled second bout at Wembley Arena the following year started a remarkable string of losses.
The astonishing nine-year run ended included losses to future champions Anthony Crolla and Stephen Smith as well as countless setbacks at the hands of fellow journeymen.
Deakin gave the following reasons for continuing in his professional career despite suffering so many setbacks:
“I was addicted to pain. It sounds silly but I love things that people avoid. I love pain, I love being in the unknown territory of getting in there and something bad happening. It didn’t bother me about winning and losing.”
“Whenever I boxed the best, I turned up looking the part. Fake tan, Suzi Wong always did my kit through my pro career and made me look good. I always went in looking good but came out second!”
His career hit a low point in 2014 when the British Boxing Board of Control revoked his fighting licence out of concern for his safety. But after acquiring a German permit, he was permitted to continue competing in the sport.
By defeating Latvian fighter Deniss Kornilovs in 2015 at the same location where he had made his successful pro debut nine years earlier, his patience at last paid off.
Deakin said: “It was massive… I cried in the ring. I’m not sure if it was happiness, I think it was more a relief. It was a weight off my shoulders.”
He gave credit for the triumph to former British welterweight champion Michael Jennings. He helped Deakin prepare for the bout and even housed him when he became homeless, some
Deakin said, “Michael is one of my closest friends in boxing. I lived at Michael’s house. People don’t know this but I was actually homeless, I had nowhere to live. I lived at Michael’s house for about four months, living in his cinema room. Training every day.”
“It was mad because when I won, it went worldwide. I had Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson sharing my story about my disability. It was massive. It’s thanks to Michael and Dave for helping me out around then.”
Deakin finally decided to put down his gloves in 2018, ending his 55-fight professional boxing career with only two victories. He subsequently transitioned into the brutal sport of bare-knuckle boxing.
Deakin said, “I didn’t want to be here. I didn’t have a stable place to live, staying in hotels… which is why I took so many fights as I did so I had somewhere to stay for a couple of days.”
Deakin claims he is happy with his career accomplishments even if his last bout is a loss.
Deakin added: “I always got told that I wouldn’t be a boxer by teachers at school because of my disability. I wanted to prove to people that you can do it if you put your mind to it.”
“Win or lose I didn’t care, I just liked to fight.”