Saturday, October 24, 2015

Mark Prince Punches to Promote Peace On Our Streets

By Peter Silkov
From London

York Hall, in Bethnal Green, hosted a lively night of boxing Friday, October 23, which was headlined by Mark Prince (23-1, 18koes), who has become British boxing’s Peter Pan, by making a successful comeback to the ring in his mid-40s. This was Prince’s 4th comeback fight since he first returned to the ring on October 4, 2013, at the age of 44, following a lay off from the ring of almost 14 years. The reasons behind Marks comeback are different from those of most fighters who return to the ring after a long absence. Mark is not fighting again to chase glory or a big payday, the motivation behind his return is to bring attention to The Kiyan Prince Foundation, which he set up in memory of his son, Kiyan Prince.

Kiyan was a promising young footballer who had been signed by Queens Park Rangers, but his life, and all the promise that it held, was cruelly snuffed out in 2006, when he was stabbed to death outside of his North London School. In response to his son’s death, Mark set up The Kiyan Prince Foundation to bring awareness and education to the community about the increased level of knife crime upon our streets. Each month brings fresh stories of youths being fatally stabbed, often in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses. There are many incidences of severe injuries that never get reported. The source of this self-destructive violence amongst our youth can be found in the exploding gang culture, especially in London, and the general feelings of isolation, and alienation, amongst those within this gang culture. When there is a generation growing up with the belief that they have nothing to lose, then you have a recipe for social conflict and violence.

With the backing of the Kiyan Prince Foundation, Mark tours schools, prisons, and community centers giving talks that are designed to steer troubled youth away from crime, and educate about the devastating repercussions of knife crime for all involved.  The foundation is especially geared to try and motivate young people away from the gang culture and show them that there are other avenues and possibilities open for them in life. Mark himself came from a troubled background, until he found boxing in his early 20s and turned his life around. His ‘first’ boxing career saw him beaten just once in 20 contests, and that defeat was in a brave challenge for the WBO world light-heavyweight championship held by the very formidable Dariusz Michalczewski. In the fight, Prince was competitive right up until when he was stopped in the 8th round. Mark would have just one more fight, a 1st round victory over a year later against Kevin Mitchell in November 1999, before a severe knee injury put him into a premature retirement. 

It would be 14 years before he would fight again, motivated by the desire to bring about change with the Kiyan Prince Foundation.

Last night, Mark, who at 14 stone is a cruiserweight, gave away over a stone to a genuine heavyweight, Mathew Ellis(20-12-2, 9koes), who stepped in as a late replacement after Prince’s original opponent failed to catch his flight.

The fight itself was brief, but explosive. At 46 years of age, Prince looks as fit as he was 20 years ago, fitter than many fighters much younger than him were. The only telltale sign of his age, or perhaps his past knee injury, is his flat-footed movement around the ring. Even though he is not fleet-footed, Mark is an expert in cutting off the ring against his opponents. He has also seemingly lost none of his punching power, and with his flat-footed stance, puts an impressive amount of power behind almost every punch. With his punching power and a sound technique, it is not hard to see how Prince rose to a world title challenge in his first boxing incarnation.

Last night his power was just too much for Wayne Ellis. After a minute of both men sizing each other up with some preliminary jabs, Prince started to put the pressure onto Ellis, driving him into the ropes with a series of shots, then putting him down with a right to the body, followed by a right to the head. Ellis beat the count, but the writing was on the wall for him. Prince was on him again quickly, and two lefts to the head had him falling again to his knees, where he stayed as the referee counted him out. It was an impressive performance by Prince, despite the fact that Ellis, a one-time heavyweight prospect, has long slipped into the status of a journeyman, and came in as a last minute substitute. Yet, you can only beat who is put in front of you, and since his comeback, Mark has stopped 3 of his 4 opponents, to take his record up to 23-1 with 17 wins by knockout. Mark’s victory came in front of a packed house at Bethnal Green York Hall, and the crowd was very vocally appreciative of his performance.  After his win, Prince took the microphone and spoke to the crowd, and it was easy to see why he is such a respected, successful campaigner, and speaker against the culture of violence that is taking over our streets.

However, Mark’s comeback has not been welcomed in every quarter. The British Boxing Board of Control, the country’s governing body, which has controlled British boxing for over 100 years, has declined to license Prince, stating that it is ‘in his best interests not to box again.’ This has led to him making his comeback under the banner of the fledgling Malta Boxing Commission, which was sanctioning yesterday’s show and all the fighters on it. The MBC is currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with the BBBC over the right to stage boxing promotions in England, in a case that could eventually see an end to the BBBC’s monopoly over British boxing.

It is undeniable that the BBBC is one of the most respected boxing boards in the world and that their safety record is largely impressive. However, given his performances in his comeback, and his impressive level of fitness, it does seem to be something of a puzzle as to why the BBBC continues to refuse to allow Prince a license under their banner. At 46 years old, the obvious obstacle for Mark is his age. Yet, age itself should not be a deciding matter, especially considering that Mark is in visibly better condition than many other fighters who are licensed by the BBBC are.  There is little doubt that if he was to be licensed by the BBBC, Prince would have a much bigger platform from which to gain further support for the Kiyran Prince Foundation. The skeptical amongst us may wonder whether this might not be one of the reasons behind the BBBC ‘s lack of support for Prince, perhaps he is seen in some quarters as being a bit too political. Certainly it is a strange situation, with the sports main governing body in this country keeping their backs firmly turned against a man who given support, could be such a hugely positive role model and ambassador for main stream British boxing. 

Certainly Saturday night’s crowd at the York Hall had no such doubts about Mark Prince and the message he is trying to spread.  Unless there is a reason, other than his age, why Mark Prince should not be licensed, then Mark has more than proved himself deserving of a chance to compete on British boxing’s main stage, rather than being limited to fighting for the MBC. Despite its best intentions, the MBC still has a limited pool of fighters and a much lower profile in British boxing. Mark Prince deserves to be embraced at the highest level of British boxing. It’s frustrating that a sport that often seems to have no problem with promoting negative and divisive role models seems to be hesitant to promote such a positive role model.

Whatever happens with the BBBC, Mark Prince has vowed to continue fighting in the ring, and promoting the foundation made in his son’s name. The more he continues win, the harder it will be for the BBBC to legitimately continue to ignore him.

The main event was supported by 6 undercard contests. Most notable of these was the return of Michael Alldis (25-8, 15koes).  Alldis is a former British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion, and was having his first competitive contest in over 13 years, and at the age of 47.  Such statistics may sound daunting, but fighting at lightweight, Alldis entered the ring looking as if, like Mark Prince, he has turned back the clock, and regained the fitness of his boxing youth. Michael’s opponent, Dinars Skripkins (2-6) was willing, yet from the start, Alldis looked remarkably sharp, considering his age and absence from the ring, took control with a sharp jab and strong body shots.  Skripkins was floored in the 2nd round with a body shot, then took the full count in the 3rd round after taking another sharp shot to the body. While his opponent was limited, it was still an impressive display by Alldis.

The other fights of the night were:

At super middleweight, Manzo Smith (6-2) out-pointed Andrejs Loginov (16-41-1, 9koes) over 4 rounds. Smith stalked Loginov throughout, and was too busy and strong for his opponent, yet, Loginov showed heart by continually fighting back every time it looked as if he might be overwhelmed, and in the end lasting the distance.

Cruiserweight Daniel Mendes (2-0, 1ko) also had to be content with a 4 rounds point’s decision win in his fight with Jody Meikle (10-56-3, 2koes.)  Meikle was out-gunned from the start by the powerful looking Mendes, who is a heavy-punching southpaw.  However, Meikle showed lots of grit and put his extra experience to use as Mendes looked to load up with the big punches. It looked as if Mendes would get his knockout victory in the 4th and final round, when he dropped Meikle by the ropes with a heavy uppercut.  Yet Meikle bravely beat the count and held, moved and fiddled his way through to the end of the fight.

Lightweights Jak Johnson, who was making his debut, and Danny Costello (5-2-1, 1ko) boxed a lively 4 rounds, with both showing solid boxing ability, but Costello being the busier, came away with the points win.

Middleweight Adam Taylor made his debut against Arturs lljins (1-1) and it quickly turned into a nightmare. Taylor looking, it must be said, in less than top condition, against an opponent who looked considerably younger and fitter than him, was in trouble almost from the start of the 1st round, as lljins jumped on him with a wild combination to the body and head. Taylor fell to the canvas under this assault, but beat the count, only to be hurt again as soon as the action resumed. Taylor was soon down again by shot to the head, and while he beat the count, this time he indicated to the referee that he could not continue and the fight was ended.
In all, it was a lively and entertaining night of boxing, and the packed crowd showed why the York Hall is one of the most popular and atmospheric boxing halls in the world. For all their quarreling, the MBC and BBBC would do well to stop lining the pockets of lawyers, and recognize that the best way forward for boxing in this country will be if they could learn to operate side by side, rather than in opposite corners.  Whether this can ever really happen in a sport, such as boxing, so riven by inner politics, is another question altogether.  

If you would like to volunteer, donate, or learn more about the Kiyan Prince Foundation, click here:

Or follow Mark on Facebook:

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to
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