A one man show for ages 5+ about love, loss, family and boxing on its way to Halifax's Square Chapel

An award-winning children's author is bringing a show inspired by his own unusual childhood to Yorkshire.
A one-man show Alfie's First Fight is on its way to Square Chapel, HalifaxA one-man show Alfie's First Fight is on its way to Square Chapel, Halifax
A one-man show Alfie's First Fight is on its way to Square Chapel, Halifax

Writer and performer Oliver Sykes, 34, grew up without a mum and was coached as an amateur boxer by his dad, who is of Romani heritage.

Growing up in poverty in rural Derbyshire, Oliver's family lived on a council estate on the breadline, receiving clothing donations from local charities, income support and free school meals.

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After his mum walked out of the family home, dad Chris quit his factory job to look after his six children, instilling a love of both boxing and reading in them.

Though Oliver's quest to make it big in the ring ended when he was assaulted as a teenager, causing permanent damage to one of his hands, his fighting spirit remained.

Graduating with a first-class degree in theatre studies, Oliver has worked as a theatre and creative project producer for over a decade, before recently turning his hand to writing.

One man show Alfie's First Fight is based on Oliver's first children's book, which won illustrated young reader at this year’s Children's Literature Festivals Book Awards. It tells the story of shy 12-year-old Alfie and is suitable for ages five and upwards.

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When Alfie's older brother Jacob goes missing moments before the Golden Gloves Championship, the biggest boxing match of his life, he puts his fears aside and goes to investigate.

On the surface, it's a simple adventure story about goodies and baddies and the drama of the boxing ring. But Alfie's First Fight is also about love, loss, family and learning how to fight for what you want.

Oliver said: "Alfie's First Fight is the kind of tale that you don't very often see on stage. It's a relatable, working class story about a loving and supportive non-traditional family who love boxing.

“Alfie's First Fight is a story about coming of age, fighting our fears and being who we always wanted to be. It will appeal to everyone who has ever felt like the underdog but has gone full throttle for the win regardless.”

He is at Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax, on Sunday October15 at 2pm.