Sheffield carved out it’s reputation as the Steel City – and it’s high-quality production line has extended into the boxing ring.
From Prince Naseem Hamed to Kell Brook and many more in between, the Yorkshire city has produced some of Britain’s biggest stars.
The production line has now churned out another precious talent, nurtured simultaneously as both a son and a fighter.
Dalton Smith and dad Grant have embarked on a remarkable journey together aiming to become the latest father-son combination to work together and achieve glory in the ring.
After forgoing a shot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and turning his back on a stand-out amateur career, Smith is rapidly rising through the ranks under the guidance of Eddie Hearn.
The 6-0 light-welterweight has been earmarked as one of Britain’s brightest prospects – and he is in line to become the next fighting pride of Sheffield.
“Growing up I have great memories,” he says.
“The Ingle Gym, they were the name of boxing, I don’t think just in Sheffield, but in the UK as well.
“Obviously the champions they brought through, some of the best around the world, and those were the memories for me when I was younger.
“I grew up watching Prince Naseem, Ryan Rhodes, Jonny Nelson then the new generation with Kell Brook.
“Sheffield’s always been a great boxing city so, for me, I want to stamp my name down as one of those big stars and hopefully I’ll do that.
“From me being a young boy, sat up watching Ricky Hatton out in Vegas and seeing the fan base he had, that’s what inspires us as young fighters.
“I want to be there one day and it’s just about staying grounded and keeping a good team around me.
“I believe I’m good enough to achieve those highs, and even though it’s a long journey I believe I’ll get there.
“The bucket list would be at Hillsborough. I’d love to fill that out, fight for a world title there if not defend, but also the ultimate goal for everyone is to fight out in Vegas.”
Inspired by Sheffield’s stars, Smith and his dad started out their journey when he was a kid as both threw themselves head first into the sport.
Whilst it has led Dalton to the professional ranks in pursuit of a world title after a glittering amateur career, Grant has already been on top of the world.
He now runs the Steel City gym full-time and was in the corner of Charlie Edwards as he become a world champion in 2018.
“Dad first took me down to the Steel City gym when I was a kid,” Smith recalls.
“He was just like me, he came into boxing with a blind eye, we didn’t know what to expect. He’d always been around boxing but never competed himself.
“He just fell in love with it at the same time I did and he found out he’d got a talent on the coaching side.
“As the years went by he just picked it up and now he’s a full-time coach as well running the Steel City Boxing gym.
“We’ve made it into a journey for both of us. It's come to the point where it's full-time boxing for me and my dad.
"I wouldn't have it any other way, because I'm in the position I've always wanted to be in and I can't thank him enough for that."
Smith is a firm believer in fate – something he believes saved his father from a near-death experience.
“It was a really tough time,” he recalls.
“It was 2007, we were at the boxing gym and sometimes my dad would go out for a run before coming back to train himself.
“He was out running, hood up, headphones in and got hit head on by a super tram. The doctors said he wouldn’t make it, and then he pulled through.
“I believed then it wasn’t his time to go, he’s here for a purpose and I believe his purpose is in boxing which is why he’s still around and changing lives for young fighters.”
Smith has been inspired by his father inside and outside the ring in terms of his ability to deal with adversity.
He added: “My dad always says pain doesn’t last forever and there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.
“Obviously he raised me and my two sisters as a single parent and I can look back at what my Dad’s been through and know we’ve got it easy.
“Sometimes we have tough days and I’ll think things are hard but my Dad has been through a lot, raising the family and keeping a roof over our heads so obviously he’s been a very big influence in every part of my life.”
A fascinating journey for the Smith family is set to continue with high hopes the 23-year-old can become Sheffield’s latest superstar.
Tune in to Mirror Fighting: One to Watch for the full interview with Smith discussing his life and journey so far and learn more about one of Britain’s top prospects.
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