Team Woodall (L-R) - Head trainer Guy Laietta, Steed "The Stallion" Woodall, manager John Seip
MIAMI (February 24, 2014) -- British amateur boxing star Steed "Stallion" Woodall, in a bold trend reversal, has moved from England to pursue his professional career in the United States.
Fighters from the UK such as Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Carl Froch, Nigel Benn and Prince Naseem Hamed, to name some of the more recent notables, built themselves up at home long before establishing themselves in the US market. The 19-year-old Woodall, however, moved to Miami earlier this month from Birmingham in order to launch his professional career in the US.
Miffed at what he describes as being overlooked by coaches selecting the Great Britain National Team (England, Scotland and Wales), Woodall decided to pass on a potential opportunity to box in the 2016 Olympics, crossing the Atlantic Ocean to start his version of the British Invasion like The Beatles did 50 years ago.
"I didn't want to wait," Woodall explained why he didn't stick around for a shot at fighting in the Olympics. "I did everything I could and was asked to do by the coaches who pick the National squad. I beat the No. 2 light heavyweight in the world, (Scotland's) Scott Farmer; I was a five-time England National Champion, two-time British Champion, and a quarter-finalist in the World Youth Championships. I feel they (coaches) overlooked me because my style was more suited for the pros and not what they were really looking for. They want more typically rigid British fighters and I'm much more aggressive, always coming forward throwing punches. I fought in three weight classes as an amateur and will start out fighting as a super middleweight in the pros before going to middleweight. I'll have the power of a light heavyweight as a middleweight.
"I always wanted to come to America, visited Miami, and now I'm living here. I had to take advantage of my dream opportunity to fight in the US. It was a hard decision at 19 to leave home and the boxing club I've always been at. I gave up a lot but I have a lot of support at home, especially from my mom and grandmother, and I'm willing to sacrifice to become world champion. There's nobody hungrier in this sport. It was really hard to leave my father, who is hospitalized, but I am willing to do whatever it takes. England will always be my home but I hope America embraces me as one of its own. America is a great country to start my career and eventually I plan to fight back home as well. I've been accepted by everybody here so far."
Woodall left England wearing a winter coat and he had to strip down to a vest upon his arrival in Miami, which he describes training there as - "Like in a sauna" - and so far that's only been during the winter.
In addition to having opportunities for great sparring on a regular basis, the primary reason he's living in Miami is that's where his manager, John Seip, and new head trainer, Guy Laietta, also reside. Seip is best known for guiding Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin to the World Boxing Organization middleweight title.
"Steed is an explosive fighter with a real fan-friendly style," Seip remarked. "He was No. 5 in the world as an amateur and he's going to be an even better pro because of his exciting style. He already has a great left hook and right uppercut. Fans are going to love watching this kid fight. He's eventually going to be marketed in the United States and United Kingdom. We expect nothing less than a world title for Steed."
Woodall recently had his first sparring session, holding his own against undefeated 29-year-old Cuban light heavyweight Vilier Quinonez (7-0, 4 KOs), who had a 275-28 amateur record, highlighted by his gold-medal performance at the World Junior Championships.
Marketing-wise, Woodall is a clean cut (no tattoos), well-spoken teenager with tremendous potential appeal. Plus, he has a cool first name, Steed, named after the main character (John Steed) in the popular 1960's British spy-fi television series, The Avengers.
He's also half-Irish, which will be beneficial when he fights in Northeast cities with large Irish and Irish-American communities. His maternal side (Mulreedy) is 100-percent Irish, from Dublin, although his mother was born in England.
Woodall is following the American Dream, even though he may be doing so in the reverse manner of his fellow UK prizefighters.
Friend Steed Woodall on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SteedWoodallProfessional Boxer and follow him on Twitter @SteedWoodall.