Blackpool bouncer who 'hated' job becomes bare-knuckle boxing world champion at 45

Richie Leak floors Dan Podmore to become BKB heavyweight champion
Richie Leak floors Dan Podmore to become BKB heavyweight champion -Credit:BKB

A former Blackpool bouncer who "hated" his job has proved that age is no barrier after becoming a bare-knuckle boxing world champion at the age of 45.

Richie Leak, who by his own admission has a "shot" knee and "groans getting out of bed in the morning", defeated dominant heavyweight king Dan Podmore last month. He was a late call-up to the contest at BKB 37 in Wolverhampton and expected it to be the final fight of his combat career.

After being left bloodied and battered in the early stages by Podmore, Leak rallied to produce a stunning knockout in the third round, leaving the near-2,000 crowd stunned. It’s far cry from being a Blackpool doorman, a job he doesn’t miss one bit.


He told the Daily Sport: "I hated it, I can’t think of anything worse. In Blackpool, it’s all stag dos and people on holiday.

"They can act like idiots because they know they’re not coming back next week. It’s carnage half the time, you’ve always got to be on your guard.

"As I got older, I settled down. Me and my partner have been together for 17 years and we’ve got four kids. I can’t be doing stuff like that anymore."

Veteran boxer and former Blackpool bouncer Richie Leak
Veteran boxer and former Blackpool bouncer Richie Leak -Credit:BKB

Reflecting on the fight, Leak, who is now a removal man, said: "To get me out of there, he was going to have to kill me. If it was going to be my last fight, I’m going to go out on my shield.

"He was picking me off in the first round. I probably get punched more than I should do, but I’m quite durable. I know I can take a shot.

"No one’s ever stopped me in bare-knuckle, I know I can weather a storm and I caught him with some good shots. When you clock something right in bare-knuckle, it’s anyone’s game."

Having “tried to retire” in the past, Leak feels duty-bound to defend the coveted title at least once. But he said: "At the same time, I’m 45 years old.

"My knee’s shot. Everything gets harder [as you get older]. I groan getting out of bed in the morning!

"When everyone was asking after the fight, ‘what’s next?’ I just wanted to get my face stitched up and get a beer. That’s me, keeping it simple."

Richie Leak (left) lets his punches fly during his BKB bout against Dan Podmore
Richie Leak (left) lets his punches fly during his BKB bout against Dan Podmore -Credit:BKB

Having the belt feels especially sweet for Leak, nicknamed the Viking, given the calibre of fighters in BKB. "It’s the best company, the Premier League of bare-knuckle," declared Leak, who boxed successful in the unlicensed scene before switching to bare-knuckle.

"Some of the lads in there have had great amateur [gloved boxing] careers. Some of them have been in with people like Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce. They can throw, move and slip, they’re skilful.

"I was never the best technical boxer but in bare-knuckle I think it helps if you’re a bit older and you know you can take a shot. And in the heavyweights, it can stop on a dime. You just need to bust someone’s eye open and it’s all over. It just suited me better because I can really fight."

With his wispy beard and plethora or Viking tattoos, Leak is one of the most recognisable personalities in the BKB. He joked: "I had a beard because it became fashionable, now everyone 21-year-old has got them!"

Despite being in the final rounds of his career, Leak hasn’t ruled another run of bouts, admitting fighting is in his DNA.

"I’ve tried to retire about six times," he laughed. "But I’m that kind of character.

"I need a goal in life, something to focus on. It’s a big part of me.

"There’s an old saying that goes, the warriors need a war to fight."