It could be argued that ‘De Hood’ and Reagan Denton are one and the same thing. The Hood is a way of life that Reagan lives and Reagan’s way of life is what shaped the ‘Hood’. It wasn’t always this way; in fact before the ‘Hood’ experience, Reagan’s life style was probably too volatile to be sustainable. At some stage it will be the subject of a fascinating biography but for now, it can best be summed up as the old and the new Reagan Denton.
Let’s start with the old Reagan and go back twenty four years to Sheffield’s district of Darnall when thirteen year-old Reagan was the youngest and smallest member of the big Denton family. From time to time, there were rival family disputes but Reagan was always protected and tended to end up as a relative’s second. On the flip side however, he was a good looking lad with curly hair, exaggerated by his mother perming it. He cringes now when he talks about his curly hair but the fact was that it gave him a cherubic look that made him popular with some of the local girls and in defending the honour of one of these girls who had been called ‘a slag’ he received a good beating. When Reagan came out of school, his girlfriend told him what she had been called and asked him what he was going to do about it? If he had been given a choice, he would have done nothing because the other suitor was bigger and older than him but his mates all heard it and in order to retain his own street-cred, he was forced to confront the lad in question. The end result was the lad grabbed hold of his curly-locks and pummelled him for a few minutes and this was repeated a few days later when they met on the stairs at school. Reagan laughs about it now and confirms that his opponent of that time, is now one of his best mates but at the time, he refused to go to school and instead shaved his head and joined the Bowling Green Boxing Club on The Manor.
The 'Bowling Green' had an asbestos roof and concrete walls and the gloves were kept in a tin. During the winter, the sweat in the gloves would freeze and it took up to twenty minutes to even get them on. It wasn’t the best gym in town with just three old bags and a home-made ring but the owners were decent people and they encouraged him to train; which he duly did on a daily basis for three months. When he next met his nemesis and they squared up to each other, Reagan was the one dishing out the punishment and he realised that he had talent as a boxer. He continued with his boxing training and eventually Glyn Rhodes OBE, took him under his wing. Reagan makes it clear that meeting Glyn was the best thing that ever happened to him. He still has tremendous respect for him and classifies him as one of the straightest and the most honest men in the boxing fraternity. Despite still being an utter novice, Glyn had faith in Reagan and against everyone’s advice, entered him for the English school-boy championship. He beat four competitors to get to the final in Stoke. His fifth fight was in the final when he lost to Graham Earl who later went on to become British and Commonwealth light weight champion. This was Reagan’s fifth fight but Graham’s 45th and Glyn’s faith in Reagan was more than validated.
From there on Reagan’s life style changed completely. He went to Miami with Bomber Graham where he met Lennox Lewis and a host of celebrities. He managed to make the front page of the Daily Star when he gave Lennox Lewis’s minder a black eye and still in his teens, went with Naz (Prince Naseem) to Atlantic City and Los Vegas where they were together when Naz lost to Marco Barrera. To quote Reagan, “Naz was the best of them all and would have won easily if he had trained and kept his weight down. Anyway, after the fight, he went off with Michael Jackson to Neverland so I came back to the Manor”.
Back in Sheffield, Reagan was now a celebrity. He lived on the Manor but drove a Porsche and wore a £50,000 wrist-watch and for the first time in his life he began to drink, do drugs and generally live the high life that ultimately led to him breaking the law and being imprisoned.
On his 30trh birthday, he intended to take his girlfriend to Spain to watch a pop concert hosted by Mark Lamarr. Naz had given him two front-row VIP tickets and he was looking forward to the concert. Unfortunately, a few hours before the flight, he was arrested for breaking the conditions on an ASBO so his girlfriend went to the concert with her mate and Reagan spent the night – and the following few years, in prison.
After coming out of prison he regained his licence. His first fight without any training was against the up and coming Courtney Owen (Watch Here) who was over a stone heavier and three inches taller. The fight lasted just 77 seconds before Reagan won with a knock-out. He went on to win six more bouts and was offered a European title fight but a few kids throwing dog droppings at passing taxi’s resulted in him forming De Hood and completely changing his life.
The new Reagan has seen both sides of life and he recognises where he went wrong and he does not want others to make the same mistakes he made. He does not know why he is doing what he is doing and he is not even sure if he believes in God but he does believe he is destined to help improve the lives of his neighbours. He says it is fate and although he cannot give a logical reason for his behaviour, he simply does not care. As far as he is concerned, he is doing what he was intended to do and what's more; it’s working. He genuinely believes he was given a second chance in order to help others and this is exactly what he is now doing.
What are his aims? To get everyone on The Manor working together to create an environment where people are happy and where they care for each other. He is not a ‘do-gooder’ nor is he looking for praise or thanks. He simply sees De Hood as a way to improve the quality of life for the local community. “I don’t care what the politicians say; too many people never get a chance in life. If they did, they would take it. This applies to our people round here and I want to help give them that chance”. You can’t argue with that.
It is no coincidence that Reagan met his partner Laura at the same time as he was forming the Hood. He makes it clear that her guidance and support have been vital in getting the Hood to its current level. He admits that he is prone to rush into things without full consideration and completely disregards rules and regulations when they get in his way. Laura is the opposite. She is astute, empathic and intelligent and ensures that he follows the correct procedure and complies with convention when necessary. Together they make a balanced and formidable team.
Finally, for reasons that are not now relevant, a few years ago he turned down the chance to fight for a European title. Although he has not trained professionally since then, he KNOWS that if he was given the chance, he would win this title on behalf of De Hood. De Hood and the whole of South Yorkshire are now looking for this fight to be arranged. Let’s see what happens.
(Last updated: 24/03/2016)
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