My United: Boxing promoter Dave Coldwell

Wednesday 21 December 2022 15:34

A former pro boxer, Dave Coldwell has gone on to achieve great success as a trainer and promoter in the sport. But away from the fight game, he enjoys nothing more than following his beloved Reds.

Earlier in 2022, he sat down with the official club magazine, Inside United, to explain how his affection for United developed as a youngster.

In the chat, he talks us through his favourite memories as a Red, the similarities between boxing and football and – most intriguingly – which players he thinks might have been able to master the sport sometimes known as 'the sweet science'....
Mark Hughes was an early reference point for Dave when he was a young Red.
How and when did you become a United supporter?
My grandad died when I was five years old, but one of my big memories of him was taking me along to Old Trafford. I came back with a Man United satchel, pencil case, scarf, all that sort of get-up. And that stuck with me. So first memory of football is Old Trafford. You start getting more and more into football as you get older, and the earliest I can say I became an actual United fan, proper following them, would be from 1983. That’s what I wanted to do with my son. I would have been around four-ish when I went to Old Trafford. And the first time that my son went to Old Trafford, he was four-and-a- half. So I’ve brainwashed him into being a Man United fan!

Who were your early United favourites?
My favourite player was Mark Hughes. Bryan Robson, Gary Bailey in goal, those sort of guys. I loved Paul McGrath – he was just hard. Robbo, even to this day, he’s your midfielder you want on those tough nights. How many times he dislocated his shoulder and kept coming back – he was a proper warrior in the middle of the pitch. Back then goalkeepers weren’t revered as much as they are now but I used to love Gary Bailey. Even Mike Duxbury and people like that, Arthur Albiston. I remember Kevin Moran getting sent off in the ’85 Cup final. All these names start flooding back.
As a boxing trainer, do you see similarities between what it takes to make it in the ring and what it takes to make it on the pitch?
Massively. I actually think there’s a relationship between football and boxing. There’s a similar sort of mentality between both athletes. The same sort of drive, the same sort of passion and desire. Also on the coaching side of things, you can relate to it in both ways, it’s very similar. Both sports seem to gel really well.
Which United player can you imagine would have made decent boxers?
Roy Keane would have been all right! You love someone who’s going to give you 100%, and do everything that he’s taught, and go out there and do it. So I’d have loved to have coached Roy Keane. Someone else I think’s got that same kind of attitude is Scott McTominay. I think he’s somebody that, if you got him in a boxing gym, because he seems to have got that same sort of discipline, he’ll graft, he’ll work his socks off, and he’ll do whatever the coach wants and needs him to do.
Dave sees boxing potential in the style and swagger of Jadon Sancho.
Then with your promoter’s hat on, who would you like to promote – somebody like Cantona?
“Yeah, Cantona without a doubt. I think Sancho, because he’s got that bit of flash. He’d be a promoter’s dream. I can see him with his hands low, swaying his upper body around and being a bit more of a flash sort of fighter. Roy Keane would be like your Carl Froch, he’d go in there and he’d be nails. Whereas I think somebody like Sancho, he’d be more flash. From a promoter’s point of view – because he’s got the dress sense and things like that – I think he’d be good. Who else who would probably do well is Fred. Because he’s a tough little so-and-so. I think Fred would be all right in a boxing gym.”
Who is your ultimate all-time United hero?
“That’s a difficult one. I always loved, and still do to this day, Becks. I’m a massive Becks fan. People go on about Trent Alexander-Arnold and his deliveries, Reece James – and they’re brilliant. But just watch a video of Becks. He’s the next level. People have forgotten. We have this in boxing where one who always gets forgotten about is Roy Jones. People forget just how good he was in his day. And it’s like that with Becks. There’s not many people I get star-struck with, and I’ve met some real superstars. But I think I’d probably fall to bits if I met Becks. I’d certainly start stumbling my words, I wouldn’t be able to do a commentary job for Sky, put it that way!”
Coldwell believes United's Champions League final win in 1999 is 'the most amazing thing in football'.
And your all-time United memory?
“That’s easy. I remember I was sat on the floor with my back to the sofa watching. I’m sat there on the floor because I’m kind of in despair, because we’re losing. The clock’s ticking down and you’ve got that sick feeling in your belly. I remember it to this day, I remember the exact position I’m in. Then I’m screaming like some sort of lunatic when we equalised. I thought that was it, for me that equaliser was everything, I thought I’d wasted all my celebrations on that one. But then, for the winner to go in straight after, it was just the most unbelievable thing I’ve seen, it was brilliant. It was just a wicked feeling. That’s my standout memory. That’s the most amazing thing in football, for me.”
– Trained Tony Bellew to a cruiserweight world title
– His current stable of fighters includes Jordan Gill, Steven Cairns and Lerrone Richards
– Dave is a highly recognisable face in boxing and is an analyst on Sky’s fight coverage

This interview first appeared in the October 2022 issue of the club's official magazine, Inside United. To subscribe or buy individual issues of the magazine, click here.