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Sparring With Life by Jimmy Tibbs

Release date: 25th July, 2014
Publisher: Trinity Mirror Sport

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £7.99
You Save: £2 (20%)
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AS Billy Joe Saunders became boxing’s new European middleweight champion with a mighty right hook, his veteran trainer Jimmy Tibbs predicted a glowing future for the fighter from travelling stock.
“He’s only a young man, there’s plenty still to come,” said the 67-year-old East Ender. “This kid Saunders has got everything – one shot and he's taken out that Italian Blandamura.”
Fifty years ago, serious judges were saying very much the same thing about young Canning Town tearaway Tibbs, who was being groomed to be the next Billy Walker.
The son of a scrap metal merchant, he wasn’t a character you would choose to cross in the ring or out on the mean streets of his home turf.
When an uncle suffered two black eyes and lost a few teeth in a Poplar pub punch-up while defending the Tibbs family honour, boxing took a back seat and gang warfare raged.
A throat was slashed, shotguns fired, vicious beatings delivered and a car bomb planted. The dust settled with Jimmy serving a 10-year prison sentence.
However appalling those acts of violence, it is impossible not to warm to Tibbs in this riveting tale of recovery from the depths of despair to become one of British boxing’s most revered and respected trainers - a man who has sent out Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn, Barry McGuigan, Chris Pyatt and Steve Collins to battle for glory.
Tibbs can be forgiven for understandably skating over some of the more unsavoury details which led to his incarceration.
He doesn’t pull any punches elsewhere in a full and frank confessional: His lust for revenge, Saturdays brimming with booze and an addiction to dope that led to salvation as a born-again Christian.
These days, Jimmy Tibbs is clearly a man worth crossing the road to meet and greet.


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