MMA legend Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett has revealed he learned to fight at Wellingborough Amateur Boxing Club – and just missed out on making the grade at Rushden & Diamonds.
Pickett’s power punching in the cage made him a fans’ favourite and, now 40, he’s joined Jim Freeman’s bareknuckle boxing revolution.
The Wellingborough businessman reports all tickets have sold for his next pay-per-view show, at London’s O2 Indigo, on Saturday, March 30 that features Pickett’s bareknuckle debut, against Mark Handley, from Shrewsbury.
And Pickett will take support with him from the area.
“I was born in the East End and my family moved to India when I was eight years old,” he said.
“ We were there for two-and-a-half years and when we moved back, my parents didn’t want me getting into trouble in the East End, so we went to Northamptonshire.
“I lived in Weldon and all over the area. I’ve still got friends in places like Thrapston and Oundle.”
Pickett won 10 of his 11 amateur boxing fights, but as a teenager, football was his passion.
He was at Nene Park when Diamonds were in the Conference and said: “I played in the reserves. I was on the verge of the first team when Diamonds were in the Conference and I played for Raunds as well.
“I was a right-back, but I would play wherever. I played because I loved it.”
Pickett went on to be a star in MMA and said: “If I wanted, I could still fight in the UFC.
“But it would have to be a really big fight that gets my juices flowing because at my age it gets harder to get your body ready for UFC fights.
“If you want to be a good boxer, you box all the time and if you want to be a good wrestler, you concentrate on wrestling, but if you want to be good at MMA, you have to be good at everything and it’s hard.”
Pickett says bareknuckle boxing will suit him – and says the sport is in his DNA.
“When I was an MMA fighter, I used to prefer boxing and this is just like boxing in small gloves,” he said.
“I just have to make sure I connect. It’s all about accuracy – and toughness. This is a tough man’s sport. You need to be durable.
“My granddad did a bit of bareknuckle boxing to earn extra money for his family. He was a roofer by day and then at night, he would fight bareknuckle to help put food on the table. I’m doing the same.
“When I got into boxing when I was young my mum used to say: ‘You get that from your granddad.’ I saw photos of him wearing a trilby and braces and that’s why I always wear them when I fight. My granddad did what he had to do – and so am I."