A YOUNG boxer who had a hole in the heart as a child begins his professional boxing career in Rotherham tomorrow.
Tommy Frank (pictured), who will take to the ring at Magna, is an ambassador for Yorkshire-based national charity Heart Research UK.
With their help, he had been inspiring youngsters with congenital heart disorders that they too can go on to have success in sport.
Tommy (23), of Intake, Sheffield, turned professional in May after winning the Yorkshire amateur boxing title at flyweight.
Now he faces Slovakian boxer Leonard Rafael tomorrow night in a flyweight bout, with family and friends there to cheer him on.
Tommy had an operation to correct a hole in the heart when he was just five years old.
Instead of “wrapping him in cotton wool”, parents Christine and Kevin, encouraged him to take part in sport, and he has been going to the Sheffield Boxing Centre since he was 12.
His trainer and manager, Glyn Rhodes, who has been with Tommy since the start, will be ringside tomorrow.
Tommy’s amateur career has seen him win the Yorkshire belt a number of times, with a record that saw 23 wins and 22 defeats as he learned his sport.
Now, as he looks forward to that first pro fight with a few nerves, but a lot of excitement, he has been reflecting on his role as an ambassador for Heart Research UK.
“I am not a superstar yet, but I’m hoping that a child with heart problems can look up to me and realise there are really no limitations on how to succeed in sport,” the fighter said.
“If I can inspire one kid to better themselves then I feel I will have achieved something.”
As a youngster with a heart condition, Tommy said you would not have expected him to become a professional boxer.
“I would like to think that I am proof that you can do anything you really want to if you work hard at it,” he said.
And with his professional bow now here, Tommy said his was to become a world champion, adding: “I have got this far, so why not shoot for the stars?”
You can also follow Heart Research UK at www.heartresearch.org.uk or on Twitter @heartresearchuk and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heart-Research-UK/10733061906