FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: Dave Coldwell on three decades in boxing and why Rotherham is still where his heart is

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT: Dave Coldwell on three decades in boxing and why Rotherham is still where his heart is

By David Beddows | 29/03/2021

FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT:  Dave Coldwell on three decades in boxing and why Rotherham is still where his heart is


FORGET the bright lights of London. Rotherham will always be home for Dave Coldwell.

Boxer, trainer, manager, promoter and now Sky TV pundit as well, Coldwell has made a stamp on the sport from humble beginnings that saw him bullied as a kid and leave home before he was 16.

He's travelled the world with his fighters, rubbed shoulders with star names and fulfilled a lifetime ambition five years ago when he coached Tony Bellew to a world title.

Three decades since first pulling on a pair of gloves, Coldwell still trains his stable of fighters in Rotherham, lives in Rotherham and that won't change.

“I have been asked quite a lot of times to go down to London and set up there,” says Dave, taking time out to speak to the Advertiser after finishing the school run.

“People have told me I'd make a lot more money and be a lot bigger name if I went there.

“The reason why myself and Derek Chisora don't work together much is that Derek wanted me to go to London and work with him. I'm in Rotherham. I work here and live here. I've got my family here and my fighters here so I won't do it.

“The doors that could open for me in London are massive but I couldn't move away from here. I'm happy where I'm at.”

Coldwell took some hard knocks as a kid, arguably harder than any he took in his brief and low key boxing career that stretched to less than 20 pro fights.

“I had a bad childhood,” he says. “I was getting bullied and was having issues at home and left at 15.

“It's a stereotypical thing. You were either a bad lad or a kid who got bullied. I was the one who had the hardship.”

Things came to a head in a metalwork lesson at school when cruel classmates locked him in a storage cupboard.

“That was the one that made me think 'This is enough now. I can't go on like this. I have got to make a stand.'

“I got into boxing, went to Brendan Ingle's gym and the rest is history. It completely changed my life.”


Archive shot of Dave Coldwell with fighters including Curtis Woodhouse (far left) and Josh Wale (far right).

It's a fact in any walk of life that you learn more from failures than successes. Defeats make you stronger and wiser.

After boxing as an amateur, Coldwell stepped up to pro level and although he managed to become a Central Area flyweight champion, he won only six of his 19 pro fights before hanging up the gloves to work from the other side of the ropes.

He explained: “I spent three years developing my own gym and by the time my final boxing contract (with the Ingles) was up, the kids I had got had good potential so I carried on with the training and ended up managing fighters.

“What I didn't achieve in my own career I learned from and that is part of my success as a coach and manager. I can see things from different perspectives.

“Not everyone is the most confident fighter or has 100 per cent belief in themselves, so I know how to work with what people have got and I've had good success with it.”

Through his time in boxing Coldwell has been like a sponge, listening, studying, observing from others how to do things and how not.

In his early days he held the spit bucket in the corners of some big fighters. A humble job, yes, but a perfect place to watch and hear top cornermen at first hand.

“I learnt a lot from starting out when I would do the house seconds for Frank Warren shows,” he says. “You would just be there holding the bucket, hoping they don't spit on you!

“I'd be looking at some of the great trainers in boxing and how they deal with situations in the corner and how they get the best out of fighters.”

Coldwell is still only 45 and if he retired tomorrow he could look back on many stallar years in the sport.

“My first British champions were Kell Brook and Ryan Rhodes,” he says. 

“I had Lee McAllister win a Commonwealth Title and then Ryan won a European belt. Then there was his fight with Canelo Alvarez in Las Vegas and me going to work with Hayemaker Promotions. Things have just snowballed from there with Jamie McDonnell and his world title fights. 

“It was working with Tony Bellew that took it to another level. 

“His two fights with David Haye were huge. Because it was all over the news, people would stop you in the street and talk to you about it, people who normally didn't follow boxing.”

Tony Bellew

After toeing every corner of the fight business, Coldwell has entered another one through his job as a pundit on Sky Sports.
It's yet another one to tick off on his boxing bucket list.

“Before I started winning title fights with fighters I used to look at other coaches with fighters winning them on TV and thinking 'I would love that to be me one day'.

“Then I'd be watching people doing the punditry on Sky and say to my missus 'I'd love to do that one day.' I never thought I would be then I got a call one day from Sky asking me if I wanted to be part of the punditry team. That's how that started.

“I love boxing and they are great jobs, it's what you dream about.

“I never expected it to happen.”

Anyone thinking his successes have dulled his drive would be wrong.

“I'm still learning today. I still stay up until 2.30 and 3am in the morning studying for fights, watching them and breaking things down.
“I'm still trying to improve myself as a coach as well as improving the fighters.”

Those include skilful Cambridgeshire featherweight Jordan “The Thrill” Gill and another young and hungry campaigner Hopey Price, both tipped for big things. 

Lockdown has been hard on boxing.

Small hall shows of the type Coldwell used to promote in his early days in Rotherham have ground to a halt because of the lack of crowds. 

Early-days promotion at Magna.

Coldwell has been well occupied during the last 12 months, training his fighters and working on pay-per-view shows.

As the world slowly emerges from a depressing 12 months, so does the chance of the sport returning to full throttle before the year is out.

By then, Coldwell's gym on Masbrough Street, just a stone's throw from the old Millmoor football ground, will hopefully be back to full throttle and open for any aspiring local kid who wants to give boxing a try, just like the man himself did when he turned up at Brendan Ingle's place at Wincobank all those years ago.

Coldwell laughs when I ask if he has any more ambitions left in the sport. 

“Yes. That's why I'm up till 3am in a morning studying,” he says.

“As a coach I have won British, Commonwealth, European titles and World titles.

“Once Tony Bellow became a world champion, I had ticked every box and the pressure was off. The only pressure that is on me is the pressure I put on myself.

“What I want is one day, when I'm retired, is to have a higher in the best pound for pound rankings. That's my motivation and what I'm working towards. Until the day that happens I'll keep on grafting my b**** off.”


Coldwell's picks

Most talented 
Jordan Gill, who I'm working with now, is the best I've ever worked with. He's ranked no.5 in the world. Hopey Price is only just 21 but he is getting to that level. His potential is unbelievable. I think he will end up being the best fighter I've ever worked with by the time he's done. He's won the Junior Olympics, World Championship Silver and European Championship Gold. As a pro he has developed so well and he is one of the best prospects in the world, and he's developing at such a rate he will ending up taking Jordan's mantel as the most talented I've worked with.
Hardest worker
Curtis Woodhouse was a grafter. He came from nothing in boxing and had the pressures of the world on him but Tony Bellew outdoes him. Bellew's attitude and mindset, no matter what the problem, whether that be a broken rib or a cartilage out of place, his work ethic was unbelievable. He'd just carry on. Having said that all my fighters are hard workers otherwise I won't tolerate it.
Career high
Tony Bellow winning the World Cruiserweight Title at Goodison Park five years ago. A close second was Bellew's two wins over David Haye (above) because of all the abuse given out and him mocking Rotherham and taking the pee out of where I live and where my gym is.

Dave with Hopey Price and promoter Eddie Hearn.

Career low
The night Jerome Wilson got injured when he fought Serge Ambomo. That was the lowest of the low.
Most admired
As a youngster coming through and then meeting and admiring him, Sugar Ray Leonard was always the one. Another great fighter I've been fortunate enough to talk to is Andre Ward. I think his way of living and perception on life is fantastic.