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Lee Selby: Former world champion announces retirement from boxing, aged 35

After 27 years as an amateur and professional boxer, I know the time is right for me to hang up the gloves.

Being raised on the council estate in Barry, South Wales you learn early on about adversity. For many young people the burden of growing up in poverty takes its toll, but boxing saved me more than I ever thought possible.

I am forever grateful to my mum and dad who took me and my brothers to Rhoose Amateur Boxing Club and Craig Smyth who always supported me. I had around 90 amateur contests, but it was my brother Andrew who was the star attraction for the Selby family in the amateurs.

My professional career began to little fanfare on the small hall shows at the Newport Centre, it humbled me starting at the bottom on smaller purses and made it all that much sweeter for my team and I as we rose to the top against all the odds. I’m proud the team I started with was the same team I ended my career with, and I am grateful for the 14-year pro journey we shared together through all the highs and lows. My management team of Chris and Jamie Sanigar, the endless hours in the gym with my trainer Tony Borg and experienced cornermen Billy Reynolds and Nigel Christian. We can all look back on a job well done.

I had to do things the hard way, going the traditional route winning every possible title along the way including the Welsh, Celtic, British, Commonwealth, European and IBF World Title. I won the Lonsdale belt outright and successfully defended my world title on five occasions. Of my 32 professional contests, 22 of those bouts were either title fights or twelve round contests. I am proud to be the 12th Welshman to win a world title and my name will now forever sit in the record books alongside those great fighters. When I look back on my career, I have realised everything I set out to achieve.

I tried to be a good champion and treat people with respect. I have always demonstrated the importance of hard work and sacrifice in achieving my goals. I’ve experienced some amazing victories but also learned valuable lessons in defeat that made me the man I am today. I hope my career can be an inspiration to those boxers starting out on small shows that your dreams can become a reality. As the money started to roll in, I’m thankful my manager taught me the importance of investing and we always stuck to the motto of “buy houses, not Bentley’s”. To any young boxer out there, trust me, there’s no harder earned money than a boxer’s purse and it goes as quickly as it comes, so spend it wisely!

A special thanks goes to my family. To my mum Frankie for all her sacrifices and I’m blessed she got the opportunity to see me crowned world champion sadly before her passing in 2017. To my brother Michael, who passed away after my second pro fight, I know he was always looking down on me as I wore his nickname “Slinky” on my fight shorts. To my dad, Lee Selby Snr, who first encouraged me to put on the gloves and was by my side during every training camp. My brother Andrew, who always gave me the motivation to just try and be as good as him in the gym. My partner Meggie and our three children for their love and sacrifice as I chased my dreams to give us all a brighter future.

A special thanks to Guy Sillett for all his strength and conditioning work throughout my career also the support in recent years from Eryk Jodlowski. A big thanks to everyone at St Joseph’s Boxing Club and Bristol Boxing Gym. Thanks to my sponsors who supported me throughout my career especially Nina Estate Agents in Barry, Sharyn Donnachie at Capital Cabs, Health Hut in Newport and Everlast who were always in my corner.

My biggest thank you goes to all my fans, your support over the years has been incredible.

I exit the ring with no regrets, happy, healthy and with my family financially secure. Boxing has been my life and I am sure my involvement in the sport will continue in the years to come as I look to set new goals.

Thank you boxing.

Lee Selby