A FORMER Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School student is all set to make his professional debut as a cage fighter in July after a very successful 11-fight amateur career.
George Smith, whose parents live in Shelf, has won 10 of his contests and won two titles to be rated the UK’s Top Prospect as he turns professional.
Now based in Tameside, Greater Manchester, but sponsored by companies and businesses in Brighouse, Halifax and Huddersfield, the 23-year-old made what he calls the natural transition from judo to cage fighting at 21.
“I have been full time with judo and now cage fighting since I left school at 16 thanks to my sponsors,” said Smith, a Leeds United season ticket holder who has played football for Shelf United and rugby union for Heath.
He trained regularly with the Great Britain judo squad and has taken part in world championships in Miami and Rumania. He won a senior silver in the British Championships in Sheffield aged 21.
Based with the SBG team in Manchester, he trains every morning and most evenings. He has won two title fights in the middleweight division at 83.9kgs (185lbs) in York and the Liverpool Echo Arena before more than 5,000 spectators.
On an average bill there are between 12-15 fights. Amateur fights have three rounds of three minutes but title fights have five two minutes rounds. It will be five three minute rounds at pro level.
Smith has averaged one fight every 12 weeks as an amateur and hopes to be in the cage at least four or five times a year as a professional and picking up some reasonable purses.
He said: “I cannot thank my sponsors enough or I would be on an impossible mission right now.”
His partner Kelly watches his fights, along with his mum and dad, and Smith reckons his fitness helps him avoid serious injuries in fights.
His backers include James Howard, the managing director of Yorkshire Payments based in Brighouse and stadium sponsors for Brighouse Town AFC, Cutting Edge Carpets of Ovenden, Bed Faver of Shipley, Westgate Barbers in Huddersfield, Chiara Lighting in Halifax and Cooper-Close in Huddersfield.
Smith enters the cage to Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain and wears shorts which carry a tribute to his late coach Karl Tanswell.
Smith hasn’t time for other hobbies apart from following Leeds Utd and walking his pet whippet Elsie.
Now it is countdown time as he builds to his first fight and he can’t wait. He is pals with Farsley Celtic and ex-Brighouse Town striker Luke Parkin and Heath player Sam Pollard, plus many more from around these parts, so he should be assured a big following in the professional ranks.