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Sam Noakes’ former coach at Westree ABC Lee Owen says British lightweight champion has ‘sickening’ power and the skillset to beat the top fighters in his division

The former amateur coach of Maidstone boxer Sam Noakes has told of the new British champion’s “sickening” power.

Lee Owen worked with Noakes at Westree ABC and is thrilled to see his success in the professional ranks.

Sam Noakes stopped Lewis Sylvester in four rounds in his latest fight. Picture: Queensberry Promotions
Sam Noakes stopped Lewis Sylvester in four rounds in his latest fight. Picture: Queensberry Promotions

The 26-year-old has won all 13 fights by stoppage and holds four belts in the lightweight division.

He enhanced his reputation last month by stopping fellow unbeaten boxer Lewis Sylvester in four rounds to add British and WBO International titles to WBC International Silver and Commonwealth crowns.

Noakes, nicknamed Midge, puts on a show every time he steps into the ring and there’s talk of a world title shot in the next 12 months.

Owen knows him better than most and has described the power that has seen the former roofer make such an impression.

“He’s got a consistency with his power,” said Owen, who worked as Noakes’ main coach for the final years of his amateur career, helping him to ABA glory and Tri Nations success with England before he joined Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions stable.

“He does hit hard, very hard, but sometimes boxers have that one-punch explosive knockout, whereas with Midge, he grinds opponents down with a consistent power. It’s sickening.

“It steals their soul. It keeps coming. It’s a horrible, sickening power.

“If you got a few lads to hit a punchball as hard as they could, there probably wouldn’t be a lot in it for a single punch.

“But if you got Midge to hit the thing 100 times in a row he’d leave them all for dead because he’d keep hitting it as hard as he did the first time, and his engine is absolutely ridiculous as well.

“He’s like a bulldozer but don’t underestimate his boxing IQ because he’s a very intelligent boxer in the way he delivers pressure and gets his shots off in bunches.

“Midge works off percentages. He doesn’t throw single shots, he’ll hit you five times and if three get through, that’s great, and eventually he’ll break you down like that.

“He doesn’t waste a second. You can’t settle. You can’t breathe. You can’t escape. That’s how I think he’ll beat the top boxers - he’ll put them at a pace they’re not used to and he’ll get them in the end.

“He pushes himself further than the average boxer. He’ll go running, get through the front door and collapse on the floor. Most would only do that with a coach behind them pushing them but he can do that by himself.

“He’ll be out running and he’ll think, ‘Sod it, I’ll do a 20-miler’. He’s not normal and that’s why he is where he is.

“You know, like a Premier League footballer, they’re not normal human beings, are they?

Sam Noakes worked with Lee Owen at Westree ABC
Sam Noakes worked with Lee Owen at Westree ABC

“You could practise all you like but you’re never going to be at their level, and I truly believe Midge is an elite athlete. He’s a bit special and I think he’s proving that now.”

Noakes was taken to Westree as a 13-year-old by mum Sharon, joining older brother Sean. It was felt he would benefit from the discipline boxing offers.

Defeat in his first fight focused the mind and Noakes didn’t look back.

“He was always energetic and strong but he wasn’t totally focused at first,” said Owen.

“Beyond the mucking around, you can see in a kid’s eye when he has something. Midge had that twinkle in his eye, a love for life - he doesn’t do coming second.

“Losing that first fight left a bitter taste. He did not like that one bit because he’s a born winner and he wasn’t going boxing to lose.

“Within a few weeks, Eddie (Henderson, Westree coach) matched him against the same boy and he stopped him in the first minute.

“The British title meant a lot to all of us at the club and, to me, I’m pleased he’s achieved what his ability was capable of.

“Why can’t someone from Westree go all the way? He’s worked hard enough and all these champions come from somewhere, so why not Maidstone?

“He won the NABCs as a youth and the ABAs as a senior and boxed in the Tri Nations for England and won them as well. Frank Warren came calling and the rest is history.

“He’s a special athlete and he’s got that Ricky Hatton persona about him, hasn’t he? He’d rather be around the people he started with than everyone jumping on the bandwagon.

“The attention is good because it promotes his profile and gets him out there but, at the end of the day, he’d rather be at home with his mum having a cup of tea. He’s just a nice lad.”

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